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Cannabis (Medical Marijuana) Treatment for Motor and Non–Motor Symptoms of Parkinson Disease: An Open-Label Observational Study

Lotan, Itay MD; Treves, Therese A. MD; Roditi, Yaniv MD; Djaldetti, Ruth MD

doi: 10.1097/WNF.0000000000000016
Original Article

Objective The use of cannabis as a therapeutic agent for various medical conditions has been well documented. However, clinical trials in patients with Parkinson disease (PD) have yielded conflicting results. The aim of the present open-label observational study was to assess the clinical effect of cannabis on motor and non–motor symptoms of PD.

Methods Twenty-two patients with PD attending the motor disorder clinic of a tertiary medical center in 2011 to 2012 were evaluated at baseline and 30 minutes after smoking cannabis using the following battery: Unified Parkinson Disease Rating Scale, visual analog scale, present pain intensity scale, Short-Form McGill Pain Questionnaire, as well as Medical Cannabis Survey National Drug and Alcohol Research Center Questionnaire.

Results Mean (SD) total score on the motor Unified Parkinson Disease Rating Scale score improved significantly from 33.1 (13.8) at baseline to 23.2 (10.5) after cannabis consumption (t = 5.9; P < 0.001). Analysis of specific motor symptoms revealed significant improvement after treatment in tremor (P < 0.001), rigidity (P = 0.004), and bradykinesia (P < 0.001).

Conclusions There was also significant improvement of sleep and pain scores. No significant adverse effects of the drug were observed. The study suggests that cannabis might have a place in the therapeutic armamentarium of PD. Larger, controlled studies are needed to verify the results.

Department of Neurology, Rabin Medical Center, Beilinson Hospital, Petach Tikva; and Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel.

Conflicts of Interest and Source of Funding: The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Itay Lotan, MD, Department of Neurology, Rabin Medical Center, Beilinson Campus, Petach Tikva 49100, Israel; E-mail: itayl@clalit.org.il

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.