Parkinson’s disease and the Endocannabinoid system

The occurrence of Parkinson’s disease in conversations I have lately made me feel like I should put down some information on it on my blog relating to Parkinson’s disease and the Endocannabinoid system. .

Who is affected by Parkinson’s?

Parkinson’s affects 1% of the elderly population. That is quite a significant amount! Age seems to be the most significant factor. A very low percentage of people develop Parkinson’s below the age of 65 years. There are some who believe it is in the genes, i.e. inherited but there is no conclusive evidence that this is the only cause. Conclusive cause is still a mystery. I believe we know exactly what the cause is but that’s just my opinion.

What is Parkinson’s?

Parkinson’s affects the way you move. It happens when there is a problem with certain brain cells. The most interesting thing is that these cells produce Dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical used by the body to send signals to the parts of your brain that controls movement. It causes your muscles to move smoothly and to “follow your instruction”. These nerve cells break down and this is then called Parkinson’s. Once this starts happening you start losing control of not only the way you move but also the way your body follows your instruction.

Can Parkinson’s be cured?

The most debilitating part about Parkinson’s is that it doesn’t go away. It progressively gets worse over time. It happens fairly slowly over many years.

Interestingly, although there are studies that propose to treat Parkinson’s there is hardly any clinically proven new therapies for its cure. Increasing evidence suggests that cannabinoids have a strong influence in the “movement” part of the brain called the basal ganglia. Without getting too technical it basically forms a significant part of the interaction between specific chemicals found in the brain that are responsible for movement.

The difficulty with treating Parkinson’s is because it is difficult to get enough synthetic drug elements to have good tissue penetration, especially in passing the blood brain barrier, without reaching toxic levels.

“Cannabinoid receptors in the brain appear to be intimately involved in the motor control. Cannabinoid CB1 receptors are densely located in the basal ganglia (BG), a forebrain system that integrates cortical information to coordinate motor activity regulating signals. In fact, the administration of plant-derived, synthetic or endogenous cannabinoids produces several effects on motor function. These effects are paralleled to changes in the levels of different neurotransmitters in the BG, including GABA, dopamine and glutamate, all of which are important players in movement control.

Cannabinoid receptors also participate in the etiopathology of movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease (PD) or Huntington’s disease (HD). In fact, both CB receptors and endocannabinoid levels are altered in the BG of patients with PD and HD and animal models of these diseases. The benefit of cannabinoids in PD or HD is not limited to the symptomatic amelioration, since several publications have revealed interesting neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory effects of these drugs. It has been suggested that cannabinoid modulation may constitute an important component in new therapeutic approaches to the treatment of motor disturbances.”

https://www.intechopen.com/books/cannabinoids-in-health-and-disease/cannabinoids-and-motor-control-of-the-basal-ganglia-therapeutic-potential-in-movement-disorders

It was also found in a study, and of course patented, that cannabinoids are antioxidants and are very useful in treating many oxidation associated diseases. Cannabinoids can function as neuroprotectants and can be used in treating diseases caused by oxidative stress. Very interestingly any of the cannabinoids can be used for this and not particularly THC (which is the psychoactive cannabinoid – the one that causes you to get high).

Here is an abstract from a study done to register a Patent Number US 6630507 B1 with relation to Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants.

Have a look at what was found in this study.

“Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia. Nonpsychoactive cannabinoids, such as cannabidoil, are particularly advantageous to use because they avoid toxicity that is encountered with psychoactive cannabinoids at high doses useful in the method of the present invention. A particular disclosed class of cannabinoids useful as neuroprotective antioxidants is formula (I) wherein the R group is independently selected from the group consisting of H, CH3, and COCH3.” Meduca is a full plant extract and contains a vast quantity of such nonpsychoactive cannabainoids.

If you haven’t already done so, you can enjoy in depth technical info by clicking here.

Here is more info on studies done in 2015: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4404240/

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