When it comes to treating Parkinson’s disease, more so with non-traditional approaches, most individuals are curious if medical cannabis for Parkinson’s symptoms may work. Additionally, they want to know what research backs it up. While the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has not sanctioned the use of medical marijuana, some states in the US and the District of Columbia have authorized the usage of medical marijuana for certain conditions which includes Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s disease is a common nerve-deteriorating age-related disorder like Alzheimer’s disease. It can be very perplexing to cope with thereby causing a concoction of motor and non-motor symptoms which affect every daily living aspect. Some of the medications doctors recommend are beneficial. However, there are still some uncertainties on what these medications can treat. Logically, people with Parkinson’s disease are fervent to look for alternative approaches to help with their symptoms. Hence, the majority opt to look into the benefits of other treatments such as medical cannabis.

Medical marijuana can be used to relieve or treat the symptoms of diseases. For instance, pain, stress and anxiety, depression, epileptic disorders, and Parkinson’s disease among others. This article seeks to discuss the relationship between cannabis and Parkinson’s disease further.

The role of cannabinoid receptors

Human bodies make natural cannabinoids which regulate their moods, appetite, sleep, and other processes. It does so by binding to receptors in the body and the brain, a process called the endocannabinoid system. The receptors are mainly found in high numbers in a brain cells circuit, the basal ganglia, which controls movement. Also, it is affected in Parkinson’s.

Cannabinoids can bind to receptors which affect brain cells including dopamine. Parkinson’s is characterized by low dopamine levels. The brains cells circuit controls the motor-functionality, and it contains cannabinoid receptors. Since marijuana cannabinoids bind to the receptors in the human brain and body, research is being conducted to determine whether they could bind to the brain cells circuit and other receptors to help the symptoms of or alter the course of Parkinson’s disease.

Marijuana cannabinoids have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which are neuroprotective. Hence, clinical trials show that they may protect brains cells through these mechanisms. Also, some clinical studies have scrutinized whether Parkinson’s and marijuana can work together. That is, if cannabis can help the mechanical and non-mechanical symptoms of Parkinson’s disease as well as involuntary movements which come about as a result of long-term use of levodopa. Generally, these trials and studies show a mixture of results where some are positive and others negative. Thus, this leaves many researchers, doctors, and patients with insufficient proof that cannabinoids and medical cannabis are effective therapy for Parkinson’s disease.

How marijuana effects on the brain

Marijuana is a plant genus which can be consumed in different ways. Some of them include, smoking, inhalation, infused edibles, topical, and sublingual uptake. Irrespective of these methods of ingestion, numerous effects can be exerted on the brain and body when consumed. The evolution of the marijuana plant did not take place for it to be used by human beings. But, since human beings are often curious about their surroundings, they came to discover these effects. Marijuana is not dissimilar from the many other plants human beings have hauled out their products. For instance, digoxin – remedy for heart disease from the foxglove plant and paclitaxel – medication for certain cancers from the Taxus plant species.

Further scientific analysis showed that the effects of the marijuana plant resulted from the truss or attachment of certain chemicals in marijuana to the cannabinoid receptors in the human body and brain through a process called the endocannabinoid system. This binding enables the endocannabinoid system to regulate various functions such as pain, appetite, mood, and memory.


Cannabis is made up of different components. The two major constituents which are popularly known are CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is the psychoactive compound which exerts euphoric sensations or mind-altering effects, thereby making many people presume that marijuana is used for recreational purposes. CBD, on the other hand, is the non-psychoactive compound which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Hence, it is considered to be medically beneficial.

Medical marijuana contains a purified combination of these two compounds in varying ratios, and they both react with the endocannabinoid system. It can be dispensed as a nasal spray, a pill, or a liquid. As aforementioned, THC and CBD are chemicals which occur naturally in the marijuana plant. However, they have not been designed to combat any symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Hence, it is perverse or arbitrary to presume that it will be the definitive solution to a person ailing with Parkinson’s disease. Extensive research ought to be conducted. However, based on what is understood about marijuana biology, you can postulate that CBD and THC may be useful for Parkinson’s disease aspects such as insomnia, dyskinesia, pain, tremor, weight loss, and stiffness among others.

Contrariwise, clinical trials are required to ascertain which particular symptoms are helped and what ratios and doses of CBD and THC work for a specific aspect. And, despite the effects of THC and CBD on the human body and brain, you can use them to cope with medical symptoms. Clinical trials and studies can help to explain further the symptoms these chemicals treat and the doses that are required. However, there are some factors which deter the ability to conduct these trials and interpret results such as the FDA regulations and time and financial constraints. Conversely, the hope of opening up further studies of medical cannabis can help change this.

Availability of medical marijuana

In the U.S., you can freely buy medical cannabis in 46 states as well as the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico. But, there are cosmic distinctions between the states regarding the regulation of Parkinson’s medical marijuana.

  • In nine of them, doctors do not recommend the use of medical marijuana and any adult can purchase it.
  • In 20 others, a doctor’s prescription is required to purchase medical marijuana products.
  • In the other 17 states, a doctor’s recommendation dispenses only CBD and minimal THC products.
  • For the remaining four states, medical cannabis is not available. Any form of its ingestion remains illicit from the perspective of the federal government.

In conclusion, marijuana can be used for both recreational and medical purposes. It contains numerous components with THC and CBD as the most common. These chemicals when consumed can have effects on the brain and the body as they react with the cannabinoid receptors in the human body. Also, extensive research has not been conducted to ascertain whether CBD and Parkinson’s can work together due to the factors which hinder the investigation. Regardless, due to its medical benefits, marijuana can be used to help treat Parkinson’s disease.