Parkinson’s disease is a disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. This progressive movement disorder can start in one limb or one side of the body and may worsen and spread to the other side. The first sign of Parkinson’s disease is often a tremor or involuntary shaking of a hand. Other common symptoms include stiffness or rigidity of muscles, slowness of movement, poor coordination, difficulty with speech and sleep.
One cause of Parkinson’s disease is a loss of nerve cells in a specific part of the brain. Those nerve cells, or neurons, produce chemical messengers called dopamine that help regulate movement. Dopamine is essential to movement as well as coordination, cognition, attention, motivation, and pleasure. Without enough dopamine, it becomes more difficult to start and maintain movement, learn, or sleep.
While there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, our goal is the management of symptoms and an improvement in quality of life. The effects of medical marijuana in specific parts of the brain and its interaction with dopamine and different receptors is quite complex but its use in Parkinson’s patients has been suggested to help with motor and non-motor symptoms. Patients have reported improvement of tremors, better sleep, the ability to move easier with less muscle stiffness, pain relief and reduced anxiety.
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