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Parkinson's & Marijuana

Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that is caused by the loss of the neurons that produce dopamine leading to insufficient production. Symptoms of Parkinson’s include tremors, muscular rigidity, and slow movements. The area of the brain that is affected by Parkinson’s Disease is the substantia nigra. Insufficient formation of dopamine results in a decrease in the stimulation of the brains motor cortex. The main medications presently used to treat Parkinson’s are Levodopa and Carbidopa. Levodopa converts to dopamine in the brain and Carbidopa prevents levodopa from being broken down before its entry to the brain. Observational studies and surveys appear promising for the use of medical marijuana for Parkinson’s. A recent Israeli study showed a 30% improvement in tremors, rigidity, and slowness of movements. Patients also experienced significant pain relief while using medical cannabis. The explanation for this reaction can be found in the endocannabinoid system, where brain receptors are affected. The cannabinoids, in various forms, can combine with these receptors and perhaps alter the transmission of data to the muscles that cause the physical signs of Parkinson’s. Marijuana can also have an affect on the dopamine receptors and concentration of dopamine in the brain.

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