Movement disorders and neuro-degenerative diseases are among the conditions cannabis is particularly well suited to treat. Cannabis has muscle relaxant and anti-convulsant properties.
In 1890, Dr. J. Russell Reynolds said,“Cannabis is the most useful agent I know for treating the nervous centers (system).”
Muscular spasticity affects millions of people in the United States. It afflicts people who have had strokes, people with MS, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), cerebral palsy, para and quadriplegia, spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s Disease, and Huntington’s. Currently there is little help for these problems. Phenobarbital and diazepam (Valium) are commonly prescribed. Many patients develop a tolerance to these drugs and need to take increasing amounts with some becoming addicted to these medications.
Cannabis can treat movement disorders such as tremors or spasticity because cannabis has analgesic, antispasticity, anti-tremor and antiataxia properties.
A neurological study found herbal cannabis provided relief from muscle spasms and ataxia (loss of coordination). They also found that ingesting marijuana improved muscle control and reduced pain significantly. They also discovered an endogenous cannabinoid system in the human body. This system is intricately involved in normal movement of the body. Cannabinoid receptors are densely located in the basal ganglia (part of brain that controls movement). Most movement disorders are caused by a dysfunction in this part of the brain.
Cannabis’ properties fight the effects of stroke, as well as brain trauma, spinal cord injuries, and multiple sclerosis. Cannabinoids act as neuroprotective agents to slow the progression of diseases such as: Huntington’s, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease (effects 52% of people over the age of 85).
Recent studies have found a strong association between cannabinoids and dopamine. Cannabinoid receptors switch between blocking and enhancing dopamine “signaling”. Their neuroprotectiveness is a result of their ability to inhibit reactive oxygen and glutamate and tumor necrosis factor.