A group of scientists from Austria has succeeded in showing that a cannabinoid can mitigate non-motor Parkinson’s symptoms, such as perceptual disorders and other dysfunctions of the autonomic nervous system, which could become a powerful ally against this disease.
This is the “first randomized controlled study to examine the efficacy and safety of a cannabinoid in the treatment of non-motor symptoms in patients with Parkinson’s disease,” the University Neurology Clinic in Innsbruck (Austria) reported on Thursday in a statement.
The result of the research was published in the specialized journal Annals of Neurology.
Normally Parkinson’s is associated with tremors or muscle stiffness, but the truth is that “many patients suffer non-motor symptoms: they have depression, anxiety, problems sleeping. They are very common,” explains neurologist Klaus Seppi, one of the the study authors.
“We have a lot of evidence that motor symptoms are treatable, but for non-motor symptoms there are hardly any treatments”, warns the researcher, who also remembers that these can appear years before mobility problems develop.
The study was carried out using a synthetic cannabinoid, nabilone, with pharmacological properties similar to the psychoactive component of cannabis.
“We decided to use nabilone because the company that produces it also supplies the placebo, but we could also have used other compounds”, clarifies the scientist, who clarifies that it was his own Parkinson’s patients who inspired the study, as they asked him to prescribe marijuana.
According to the statement, “95% of neurologists from the National Parkinson Research Foundation Center of Excellence who participated in an online cannabis survey had patients who requested marijuana prescriptions from them.”
The researchers are hopeful that their work can serve as the basis for future studies, and that this will help endorse cannabis as a treatment for Parkinson’s.
“The problem is that it is very difficult to motivate pharmaceutical companies to carry out a trial”, since nabilone is very easy to produce and there is “a lot of supply”, warns Seppi.
The scientist assures that he maintains correspondence with some companies to prepare a larger essay, since the one that has been published is “completely academic, and conducting a phase III (of essays) only with the University media would be impossible,” he says .