Study: Patients with Parkinson’s Disease Report Symptom Relief, Use Fewer Opioids Following Cannabis Treatment

Buffalo, NY: Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients exhibit improved symptoms and reductions in their use of prescription opioids following their use of medical cannabis, according to data published in the journal Clinical Neuropharmacology.

Researchers with the University of Buffalo School of Pharmacy assessed the use of cannabis products in a cohort of 69 PD patients. All of the study’s participants possessed an authorization from their doctor to access state-licensed medical cannabis products. Most subjects consumed cannabis in the form of a tincture containing a 1 to 1 ratio of THC and CBD.

Investigators reported: “Eight-seven percent of patients exhibit[ed] an improvement in PD symptoms after starting MC [medical cannabis]. Symptoms with the highest incidence of improvement included cramping/dystonia, pain, spasticity, lack of appetite, dyskinesia [involuntary movements], and tremor. After starting MC, 56 percent of opioid users were able to decrease or discontinue opioid use with an average daily morphine milligram equivalent change from 31 at baseline to 22 at the last follow-up visit. MC was well-tolerated with no severe AEs [adverse events] reported and low rate of MC discontinuation due to AEs.”

Nearly 25 percent of US patients with Parkinson’s disease report being active cannabis consumers, according to survey data compiled by the Parkinson’s Foundation. Separate survey data compiled last year by researchers with the University of Colorado reports that PD patients who use either CBD or whole-plant cannabis products frequently acknowledge improvements in their sleep, pain, anxiety, and agitation.

Dozens of studies involving patients with chronic pain and other conditions find that subjects typically decrease or cease their use of prescription opioid medications following the initiation of cannabis therapy. 

Full text of the study, “Medical cannabis in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease,” appears in Clinical Neuropharmacology. Additional information on the use of cannabis for Parkinson’s disease is available from NORML’s publicationClinical Applications for Cannabis and Cannabinoids.