Michael of Healdsburg, CA has Parkinson’s Disease.  He’s gone the route of regular exercise, physical therapy, and prescription medications.  But, over time their benefits lessened and became less and less reliable.  So, now he’s wondering if medical marijuana could help with his Parkinson’s Disease.  Here’s what he writes…


Dr. Patel,

Thank you for the work that you do.  I took a look at your YouTube videos and saw that you don’t have one on Parkinson’s Disease.  So, I figured I’d go ahead and ask you about it.

I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease at the ripe-old age of 60.  It was incredibly jarring news for both my family and myself.  Now, that several years of passed, I’m learning to deal with it.  Although, I have to say that with the symptoms being progressive, each passing day becomes more and more challenging.

At first, the symptoms would come and go.  But, now they’re a regular unwelcome guest in my life, especially when I’m stressed out or tired.

Old man Parkinson’s (Disease) has managed to seep his way into every aspect of life.

My hands tremor when they’re sitting on my lap or on the desk.  The tremors started in one hand, but eventually they made their way to both my hands.  Sometimes, I find that my thumb and index finger look like they’re “rolling” something between them.  My doctor told me this is called a “pill rolling” tremor.

And, it probably comes as no surprise that I end up typing extra characters on the keyboard.  The number of typing errors I make has grown exponentially over the years.

When I put pen to paper, I can’t even write my own name.

Never did I think that I’d struggle with unscrewing the cap of a bottle.  It’s like my fingers aren’t obeying my brain’s commands to won’t do what I want them to do.

It’s the same when I try to turn over in the bed or get out of a chair.  It’s like my arms and legs just won’t move fast enough.

Walking feels like I have shackles around my ankles.  There’s a heaviness in my legs, unlike any other I’ve ever experienced before.  Each step feels like my feet are stuck to the floor.  And, it takes an incredible amount of effort to get them moving again.  In fact, I wouldn’t say that I even walk anymore.  Really, I’m shuffling to get around.

And I can only get so far.  Walking for extended periods of time causes pain.

When it comes to sleep, I haven’t had a wink in years.  I’m awoken in the middle of the night from cramps in my calves and feet.  They start as regular-cramps that turn into mega-cramps.  My muscles twist into positions they shouldn’t.  And, cause an excruciating amount of pain.  And, there’s nothing I can do to stop it.

Overall, my bad days are really bad.  And, unfortunately, I’ve had to drop my work down to 3 days per week.

You know when the doctor finally told me I had Parkinson’s Disease, my initial reaction, once the shock wore off, was relief.  At least I knew what to do, and what my choices were, and that I could go on with my life.

I have five grandchildren who I absolutely adore. They are my inspiration.  So I did everything I could to stay as healthy as possible after the diagnosis.  I held on to the hope of playing tag and kickball with them.

So I exercised regularly.

I went for physical therapy per my doctor’s recommendations.

I even started taking Carbidopa/Levodopa.

The symptoms were well-controlled with Levodopa/Carbidopa at first.  But, with time, the benefits of the medications, the exercise, and physical therapy lessened and became less reliable.

Plus, the Carbidopa/Levodopa came with it’s own set of problems.  It caused twitching and twisting.  And, it caused uncontrolled repetitive movements of my tongue, my lips, my face, my arms and my legs.

I feel like I’m hitting dead-ends.  I’m well aware that symptoms from Parkinson’s Disease are progressive.  I know it won’t get better and in fact will probably get worse.  But, I’m just looking to do all that I can that’s within my capacity, if not for me then for my grandchildren.

So, I’m turning to you for an answer to the question – do you think medical marijuana can help with my Parkinson’s Disease?

Again, thank you for the work that you do.

In kind regards,

Michael

Healdsburg, CA

 

 

Michael,

So you’re in a tough predicament.  But, I do admire the approach you’re taking.  You understand that the Parkinson’s Disease is a part of the story but not your whole story.

Now, to answer your question, I’ll dive into the research 1st, then I’ll detail the results I’ve seen in the patients with Parkinson’s Disease that I’ve treated.

Let’s get started.


MEDICAL MARIJUANA FOR PARKINSON’S DISEASE:  THE RESEARCH

I’m going to summarize a study done back in 2004 in the Czech Republic.

The researchers surveyed 339 patients with Parkinson’s Disease.  They specifically asked

  • How often they used cannabis.
  • How frequently and regularly they used cannabis.
  • How long they’d been using cannabis.

And, finally they asked

  • What specific effects the cannabis had on their symptoms.

Now the interesting thing is that most of these patients started taking cannabis because of the information they got from the media.  None of them had any experience with using cannabis recreationally before using it for their Parkinson’s Disease symptoms.

Also, it’s important to know that these patients continued to use their prescription medications while using the cannabis.

In terms of results,

  • 45.9% of the patients reported mild to substantial relief of their symptoms,
  • 30.6% reported improvement in their resting tremors,
  • 44.7% reported alleviation of their bradykinesia,

Bradykinesia is slowed movement of both fine and gross motor control.

So, for example, when it comes to fine motor control, tasks like writing may take a patient with Parkinson’s Disease much longer to complete than someone who doesn’t have Parkinson’s Disease.

  • 37.7% reported alleviation of their muscle rigidity,

Rigidity is otherwise known as muscle stiffness, another characteristic symptom of Parkinson’s Disease.  It’s when the muscles resist movement.

So, for example, patients with Parkinson’s Disease will display jerky movements rather than the fluid movements a person without Parkinson’s Disease would have.

  • 14.1% reported improvement of their dyskinesias

Dyskinesia is when parts of the body move involuntarily in an uncontrolled way.

Dyskinesia can appear like fidgeting, writhing, wriggling, head bobbing or body swaying.


MEDICAL MARIJUANA FOR PARKINSON’S DISEASE:  THE RESULTS

When it comes to Parkinson’s Disease, medical marijuana is by no means a cure, but my patients have found that it helps in a couple different ways.

  1. My patients have reported an overall reduction in pain with the use of medical marijuana.  Typically, the pain drops from severe to mild.  Or, in other words, from an unbearable to a more manageable level of pain.
  2. My patients have also reported that medical marijuana is a useful additional therapy for Parkinson’s Disease, especially when it’s difficult to control their symptoms with the standard prescription medications.  Some of my patients have been able to reduce the dosages of the prescription medications they’re taking.  Of course, medical Marijuana should never be thought of as a replacement for the therapies for Parkinson’s disease.
  3. And finally, patients have reported that medical marijuana affects their tremors.

What I’ve observed in patients with Parkinson’s Disease is that their tremors, after a few weeks or maybe days, fade away to be replaced with muscle rigidity or stiffness.  And once they slowly fade away, the tremors comes back in another part of the body.  It’s like a never ending cycle.

And, what I’ve found is that medical marijuana helps with with a reduction in tremors.  More specifically, some of my patients have reported a reduction in how often they have the tremors.  Others have reported a reduction in how long the tremors last.  And, there are those that have reported a reduction in the severity of tremors.  So, they don’t necessarily progress from a tremor to muscle rigidity or stiffness.

Michael, I hope this information helps.   And, I wish you the best!

With Gratitude,

Dr. Patel

 

Would you like my help?  Head on over to the GET HELP page, I’ll step-by-step walk you through how to safely use medical marijuana to help manage the symptoms of your Parkinson’s Disease.

 


MEDICAL MARIJUANA FOR PARKINSON’S DISEASE: RESEARCH REFERENCED