A study has found no link between the use of cannabis and Parkinson’s Disease (PD).
The researchers, who included neurosurgeons from the University of Southampton, studied more than 2,500 people over a two-year period and found no links with PD symptoms or quality of life.
However, they did find a link between cannabis use and the risk of developing PD symptoms.
Lead author Professor Michael Shanks, from the department of neurology at Southampton, said: “Our study is the first to look at whether the use or abuse of cannabis has any link to PD, and this finding suggests that the use may have a protective effect.”
He added: “This is not something we would want to discourage people from using, but we would urge people to consider their use carefully and talk to their GP if they have any concerns.”
Cannabidiol (CBD), the active ingredient in cannabis, is the active component of the plant that gives it its unique effects.
Researchers found that people who used cannabis at least 10 times a week had lower rates of developing Parkinson’s symptoms than people who did not use cannabis at all.
The study found that cannabis use was associated with lower rates and shorter duration of PD symptoms compared to people who were not regular users.
However Professor Shanks said he was not aware of any scientific evidence suggesting the cannabis in cannabis products is harmful to people with Parkinson’s.
He said: “[But] I can’t say it doesn’t have a beneficial effect in terms of reducing the onset of symptoms, but this would have to be done by a controlled trial.”
There is a need to study the effects of cannabis on PD symptoms and quality of health.
We are certainly not saying it is safe for use by anyone, but there is a large body of evidence suggesting it could be beneficial for people with PD.
“A spokesperson for the Alzheimer’s Society said: The Alzheimer’s Association and the Parkinson’s Society strongly oppose the use and sale of cannabis, and we welcome the publication of the latest research on cannabis and PD.
We also want to emphasise that while there are no current clinical studies suggesting the use, or abuse, of cannabis in people with dementia, the findings in this study are encouraging and call for further research to be undertaken.”
We have not heard any conclusive evidence linking the use to PD symptoms, and the Alzheimer Association has never advocated for the use by those with dementia,” the spokesperson said.”
However, the Association recognises the important role that cannabis has in helping people with their symptoms and with managing their symptoms, both within their communities and at home.
“Professor Shanks is currently working on a follow-up study, which will look at the relationship between cannabis and other forms of dementia.