Analysis: Parkinson’s Disease Patients Report Improvements, Decreased Reliance on Opioids Following Cannabis Therapy

Buffalo, NY: Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients exhibit symptom improvements following the use of cannabis extracts containing a one-to-one ratio of THC and CBD, according to data published in the journal Clinical Neuropharmacology

Researchers affiliated with the University of Buffalo, School of Pharmacy assessed clinical outcomes in a cohort of 69 PD patients authorized to use cannabis tinctures. 

They reported: “Eight-seven percent of patients were noted to exhibit an improvement in any PD symptom after starting MC [medical cannabis]. Symptoms with the highest incidence of improvement included cramping/dystonia, pain, spasticity, lack of appetite, dyskinesia, 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. The MC was well-tolerated with no severe AEs [adverse events].”

The study’s authors concluded, “MC may improve motor and nonmotor symptoms in patients with PD and may allow for reduction of concomitant opioid medication use. Large, placebo-controlled, randomized studies of MC use in patients with PD are required.”

Survey data published in 2021 estimated that nearly one-quarter of patients living with PD have consumed cannabis within the past six months. A 2017 study reported that the daily use of medical cannabis products was associated with sustained improvements in PD-related symptoms. Other studies, however, have shown inconsistent results. Longitudinal data reports that the long-term use of cannabis by patients with Parkinson’s disease is “safe and does not exacerbate neuropsychiatric symptoms.”

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