Degenerative diseases – In addition to motor effects, Parkinson’s patients also struggle with non-motor symptoms (NMS) such as dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system, olfactory disorders or perception disorders. Cannabis could alleviate these symptoms.
Researchers at the Innsbruck University Clinic for Neurology have shown that a cannabinoid can reduce the non-motor effects. For the first time, a randomized controlled study was published in the journal “Annals of Neurology”.
The NMS are harbingers: “They can anticipate the typical motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease by years or even decades,” said Klaus Seppi, the corresponding author of the study, explaining the problem in a communiqué from the Medical University of Innsbruck on Thursday. The resulting stress would generally increase as the disease progressed, but the treatment options available so far were limited or inadequate.
“The potential therapeutic effect of cannabinoids on motor skills and NMS in Parkinson’s disease is an important topic and is often addressed by patients in the treatment room,” reported study author Marina Peball. For the study, nabilone – a cannabinoid that is approved against chemotherapy-induced nausea – was used.
Hemp active ingredient helps against anxiety and promotes sleep
“In our study, we randomized and double-blind and placebo-controlled the effect of nabilone on the controlled treatment of NMS in Parkinson’s disease in a large number of patients,” said Seppi.
For this purpose, a withdrawal design was used after all patients in the study were placed on nabilone. The preparation is a synthetic analogue of tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive component of cannabis, with similar pharmacological properties.
The study showed that the overall NMS exposure was improved by the cannabinoid. According to the authors of the study, this was reflected in a “reduction in anxiety and sleep disorders”. These results could serve as the basis for a larger controlled study that would eventually lead to approval.