Survey: Parkinson’s Disease Patients Report Improved Symptoms, Decreased Prescription Drug Use Following Cannabis Initiation

Aurora, CO: Patients with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) report improved symptom management and reduced prescription drug use following the use of cannabis, according to survey data published in the journal Movement Disorders Clinical Practice.

A team of investigators with the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus surveyed 1,881 PD patients regarding their use of cannabis products.

Respondents most commonly reported improvements in sleep, pain, anxiety, and agitation following their use of either CBD or whole-plant cannabis products. Those subjects who primarily used high-potency THC products also reported improvements in nausea, appetite, depression and tremor, but were also more likely to report worsening symptoms of bradykinesia (slowness of movement). Consistent with prior studies, many respondents reported either decreasing or discontinuing their use of certain prescription drugs – particularly those prescribed for pain and anxiety.

“These survey results offer a broad overview of real‐world cannabis use patterns and experience among a large group of people living with PD and provide initial results regarding the differential symptomatic effects of higher THC versus higher CBD products,” authors concluded. “In summary, people with PD report that cannabis subjectively improves some PD‐related symptoms, with higher THC products conferring more frequent benefits than higher CBD products. … Next steps should include more rigorous, controlled studies, informed by the results herein, to more objectively study the effects of varying types of cannabis on PD symptoms, as well the impact of the different methods of ingestion and specific doses.”

Human trials from Israel and Brazil have documented improvements in PD patients’ symptoms and quality of life following their use of either inhaled cannabis or oral CBD extracts.

Full text of the study, “Higher risk, higher reward? Self-reported effects of real-world cannabis use in Parkinson’s Disease,” appears in Movement Disorders Clinical Practice. Additional information on cannabis and Parkinson’s disease is available from NORML.