Fox Foundation Offering Guide to the Use of Medical Marijuana – Parkinson’s News Today

The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) is offering a free guide to medical marijuana and Parkinson’s disease (PD) in response to a survey conducted by Fox Insights, which found that more than 70% of patients used cannabis at medical purposes.

Nearly one in three respondents (31.8%) also said they had not spoken with their health care providers about such use.

The nine-page downloadable guide covers issues such as how to speak with a doctor about cannabis – the plant from which marijuana is derived – what is known about its potential safety and effectiveness, and the accessibility of medical marijuana.

As of March, 37 states and the District of Columbia are allowing the use of medical cannabis, it says.

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The guide was written by Rachel Dolhun, MD, movement disorder specialist and senior vice president of medical communications for MJFF. She also hosts the organization’s “Ask the MD” educational video series.

“A lot of people are wondering about medical marijuana for Parkinson’s disease,” the MJFF says in its announcement. “Research has not yet proven benefits or safety. And doctors don’t have strong evidence to guide recommendations on what to use or how. Still, many people are interested in trying this therapy.

Dolhun, in an accompanying video, noted that “several small trials have examined whether marijuana and cannabinoids can help motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease such as tremors, slowness and stiffness, and non-motor symptoms such as sleep changes, mood problems or hallucinations”.

But, she added, “the results of all of these trials are mixed. Some show benefits and some don’t.

A total of 1,881 patients with Parkinson’s disease responded to the University of Colorado survey between January and June 2020. It was undertaken to gain “real world” knowledge about cannabis use to help physicians to advise patients and support future clinical trials.

Some 73% reported using cannabis strictly for medical purposes, 7.3% for recreational purposes and 19.7% reported using cannabis for medical and recreational purposes.

More than half of the respondents reported some relief from the symptoms of the disease, in particular better sleep and less restlessness, anxiety and pain. Common side effects included dry mouth, dizziness, cognitive problems, increased appetite or weight gain, fatigue, and balance issues.

Cannabis research, the guide explains, is hampered by federal regulations and studies to date that are too small to be widely applied, fail to compare marijuana to current disease treatments, and lack the standardized doses needed to compare results between trials, Dolhun said.

The guide notes that studies involving “a small number of participants” are unlikely to represent “the whole population with Parkinson’s” or show results that can “apply to the majority”. They also frequently lack a placebo group, “making it difficult to determine what the true benefit of cannabis may be and what the placebo effect may be.”

In the video, Dolhun advises patients to speak with their doctor about the potential benefits and risks of marijuana, as well as possible drug interactions.

“Ultimately, marijuana and cannabinoids may be potential therapies for Parkinson’s disease, but more work is needed to assess their safety and effectiveness,” she says.

In addition to its guide, the foundation offers an archived webinar discussing medical marijuana and other alternative treatments.

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