According to a study by Israeli researchers, smoking cannabis improves Parkinson’s disease symptoms, including the reduction of pain and increase of patients’ motor functions. The study was published online ahead of print in the European Journal of Pain.
The team, comprised of researchers from Beilinson Hospital and Tel Aviv University, investigated the effects of cannabis use 30 minutes after consumption and again after long-term use on 20 patients diagnosed with the disease. Motor function was assessed using the Unified PD Rating scale by two raters, with one blinded. Pain was evaluated using the Pain Rating Index and the Visual Analogue Scale of the McGill Pain Questionnaire and thermal quantitative sensory testing, which determines sensation thresholds for warm and cold temperatures, was performed on 18 patients.
Cannabis inhalation showed to reduce both pain and decreased motor symptoms after both the 30-minute trial and in the long-term (a median of 14 weeks) in all patients, although two patients were excluded from the long-term results because they consumed the drug via vaporizer rather than combustion.
“Cannabis improved motor scores and pain symptoms in PD patients, together with a dissociate effect on heat and cold pain thresholds,” the authors concluded. “Peripheral and central pathways are probably modulated by cannabis.”
This is the second such study in Israel using cannabis as a therapy for Parkinson’s. A 2014 study published in the journal Clinical Neuropharmacology had similar findings using the same clinical assessment methods and the 30-minute threshold. In addition to decreased tremors, rigidity, slowness of movement and pain, patients reported a significant improvement in sleep.