In recent years, there has been an increasing demand for the potentially positive effects of medicinal cannabis on various symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, such as tremor, dyskinesias, sleep, tension and hallucinations. Scientific research into the effects on Parkinson’s is very limited, usually performed in small groups, and currently provides insufficient evidence of a beneficial effect on one of the possible domains of functioning in Parkinson’s disease. In addition, there are also clear risks.

History

The young Irish doctor William O’Shaughnessy introduced the medical use of cannabis in Europe around 1840. He saw how Indian medicine made use of cannabis. In the early 20th century, cannabis medicines were unprecedentedly popular. After 1930, cannabis became increasingly ill as a result of association with hard drugs. This was later expressed in UN conventions (1961, 1971 and 1988). In recent decades, cannabis has proven to be effective as a symptom reliever in diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis (in particular spasm reduction), cancer (in particular to improve appetite and reduce nausea), chronic pain, Aids, and Gilles de la Tourette syndrome. Medicinal Cannabis (MC) has been available to patients in our country since 2003. This medicine is produced under the supervision of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS) and can be obtained at a pharmacy’s prescription. Nevertheless, Medicinal Cannabis is not on the list of registered medicines.

Mechanism of action of cannabis

The active substances from the cannabis plant are related to substances that man makes himself (endo cannabinoids). Both the endo-cannabinoids and the various cannabinoids made from cannabis (now more than 60 different components have been described) are affecting the cannabinoid receptors in the body. It is important to know that the different pharmacologically active components differ in the extent to which they contain ∆-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

This is because these 2 components affect cannabinoid receptors in the body in a different way and therefore have an opposite effect. The cannabinoid receptors can be divided into 2 types. Type 1 (CB1) receptors are especially common in specific parts of the brain. The CB1 receptors are important for aspects such as pain, nausea, appetite, exercise, and thinking or perception.

Type 2 (CB2) receptors are mainly found in the rest of the body and are important for the immune system. The receptors can be set ‘on’ and ‘off’. THC is an agonist (turns on the receptors) of both the CB1 and CB2 receptors. In particular, the ‘activation’ of the CB1 receptors in the brain gives the psychoactive effect: becoming high. CBD, on the other hand, is an antagonist of the CB1 and CB2 receptors, and can therefore invalidate the psychoactive effects of THC. Then there are the Canabis Oil products that can also offer a great many effects now.

Varieties based on granulate

The effect of medicinal cannabis therefore depends on the THC and CBD ratio in the product. The more THC it contains, the greater the chance of psycho-active effects (eg getting high). The endless examples provides an overview of which varieties (based on granules) are available for patients with a prescription.

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