Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that occurs when parts of the brain stop making dopamine, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, behavior, sleep and cognition. Patients usually have a hard time controlling movement—tremors and limb rigidity are the most visible symptoms of this disease, but because dopamine regulates many facets of behavior, less visible symptoms like depression, anxiety and difficulty thinking are also common.
There’s no cure for Parkinson’s disease, and traditional management methods involve surgery and medications to both relieve symptoms and supply the body with dopamine. In addition to these methods, some patients are now using marijuana to help manage their symptoms. Based on interviews with patients and those who work with them, we’ve compiled some of the best cannabis products for Parkinson’s disease.
MoonMan’s Mistress was founded by Liz Rudner, a holistic nutrition expert and Jamel Ramiro, a personal trainer who specializes in movement. “We really see ourselves as a health and wellness brand that just happens to be in the cannabis space,” Liz explains. The duo’s nutrient-dense, paleocentric edibles are a good fit for Parkinson’s patients who often suffer from malabsorption, she adds.
Liz works closely with Parkinson’s disease patients, helping them hone in on “the rhythm of their body,” while Jamel devises workouts that help them improve their balance and core stability. Their clients use their cookies to relieve pain, help them sleep and as a part of a healthy diet to reduce inflammation. Some favorites include their Cosmic Cacao Peppermint Cookie and CBD-rich Chocolate Chip Solar Flare Cookie, though Liz says that each of her clients has different preferences and needs.
Transdermal patches are a discreet option for pain relief—they release small amounts of medication into the bloodstream over a long period of time. “Transdermal patches differ from topical creams in that the medicine goes through all seven epidermal layers of skin and enters directly into the bloodstream. Transdermal patches deliver systematic rather than localized relief,” says a Mary’s Medicinals representative.
Mary’s Medicinals offers a variety of patches in CBD, THC, CBN, THCA and CBD-THC combinations. Patches, which can be worn as you go about your day, don’t normally impart any kind of high, even if the patch has THC. However, everyone is different so if you’re sensitive to THC, it might be a good idea to do a test run at home, use THC patches at night, or stick with a CBD- or THCA-only patch.
This tincture blends THCA and CBDA, acids high in antioxidants and terpene content. The key ingredient here is THCA, often overshadowed by CBD and THC. THCA has shown great medicinal promise in lab research. It’s known to have anti-inflammatory properties and help with nausea. In a study involving mice cells, THCA protected brain cells that make dopamine from neurotoxins—a finding that’s good news for Parkinson’s patients, although more research needs to be done.
THCA is usually found in raw cannabis leaves. However, Rosette makes a tincture with the phytocannabinoid. THCA will not cause consumners to feel high like THC can, so this is a good option for daytime use. Jan Lavelle, a Parkinson’s patient who consumes THCA advises to take a dropperful three times a day, saying that it takes a while to build up in your system—in other words, you may not feel the effects right away. “You really have to commit to it,” she says.
With a variety of consumption options and a good selection of CBD-to-THC ratios, Care By Design products are a great option for the cannabis newbie. Users can experiment with different tinctures, sprays and ratios to see what suits their needs.
Jan, who uses these products, suggests that folks with Parkinson’s disease looking to try CBD start with three ratios: 18:1, 8:1, and 4:1. She advises new users to start with the highest CBD-to-THC ratio for three days and to move to the next highest, if they don’t feel anything. Jan herself does three, half-dropperfuls a day of an 8:1 ratio. Like THCA, CBD takes a while to build up in your system—Jan says it took about a month before she noticed any effects.
Salves are different from transdermal patches—they don’t get into the bloodstream, so they don’t typically have psychoactive effects, even if they have THC. This salve from Sweet Releaf is a great option for chronic pain and muscle cramps often experienced by those with Parkinson’s disease, plus it can be used any time of day.
Many of the products listed are only available in California, although we do our best to mention similar products that might be available in other locations. Are you a Parkinson’s patient who uses cannabis for symptom relief? If so, let the HelloMD community know what you use in the comments section below.
Photo credit: Jared Sluyter