CBD Oil For Dystonia

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A team of researchers discovered cannabis oil high in THC to be effective in alleviating muscle spasms and related pain in patients living with dystonia. Patients with dystonia who smoked medical cannabis vs those who consumed cannabis oil extract were more likely to report dystonia symptom improvement.

Study Shows That Medical Cannabis Helps Alleviate Symptoms of Dystonia

Most of the world is aware that cannabis is wildly effective against various types of inflammation and pain. Now, cannabis has been found to help those with muscle contraction and movement issues—particularly those who have dystonia.

Dystonia is described as “a movement disorder in which your muscles contract involuntarily, causing repetitive or twisting movements” by the Mayo Clinic. This condition can be in the form of focal dystonia (affects one part of the body), segmental dusyonial (affects two or more adjacent parts), or general dystonia (affects all parts of the body).

Dystonia presents in people in various ways and could be triggered by a specific action or as a result of being worn down by stress, fatigue, or anxiety. Symptoms of dystonia include contractions, pain, spasms (specifically blepharospasms), slurred speech or tight voice, etc. The extent and severity of the symptoms depend on the type of dystonia and the area which it is affecting.

A Look Into Dystonia Patients and Cannabis

Research findings presented at the International Congress of Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorder Society Virtual Congress 2021 showed that adults with dystonia who consumed cannabis were experiencing improvements in their pain and symptoms. The team of researchers’ objective was to assess the effect of medical cannabis on patients with dystonia since it was suggested as a treatment for involuntary contractions of muscles in several case reports and case series.

The Neurology Advisor explains that previous research found that cannabis can be effective in treating involuntary muscle contractions and reducing pain in patients. These benefits are possible because the plant is able to activate the cannabinoid receptors in the basal ganglia—a group of structures in the base of the brain that is involved in coordination—which then releases GABA neurotransmitters that block impulses between nerve cells in the brain.

The researchers were able to assess the impact of medical cannabis on patients with dystonia since they had obtained an Israeli Ministry of Health-approved medical cannabis license to do so. The team was able to obtain such a license because the Israeli ministry has been allowing cannabis to be used for the treatment of movement disorders and related pain since 2013.

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The study was able to get 23 patients with dystonia on their approved medical cannabis license from the ministry, each of which were being contacted via telephone by researchers from Tel Aviv University. In order to understand and assess the participants’ demographics, medical cannabis use, and effects of treatment, the researchers directed them to answer questions with a 5-point Likert scale.

The 23 participants included 12 men and 11 women with a mean age of 52.7 years old. The researchers found that nine participants had general dystonia, six had focal dystonia, five had segmental dystonia, two had hemidystonia and one had multifocal dystonia. Six participants had dystonia as a result of Parkinson’s disease, four from monogenic variants and 13 were unknown.

Cannabis Improves Quality of Life for Dystonia Patients

The participants reported having been using cannabis for an average of 2.5±1.0 years, give or take. They were consuming cannabis with doses of 22.6±20.1 grams per month with daily consumption frequently around 3.3±4.3 times per day. The medical cannabis being used was composed of 10.6%±6.6% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and 8.0%±5.7% cannabidiol (CBD), with participants having reported the use of cannabis oil extract, smoking dried cannabis, or both.

The participants self-reported the medical efficacy of cannabis for dystonia, using the 5-point Likert Scale, as 3.5/5. They reported cannabis effectiveness for pain as 3.7/5 and improvements in quality of life as 3.6/5. The researchers found that strains with higher THC as well as cannabis flower (in comparison to oil) contributed to bigger improvements in the condition.

The researchers also assessed the negative effects of cannabis use among the dystonia patients, discovering that the worst and most common adverse side effect was dry mouth with a 65% prevalence. The others were significantly less prevalent, with worsening mood in only three people and anxiety with hallucinations in only one person. While the adverse effects of cannabis are minimal and not common, all patients should be aware of any existing risk of consuming the substance.

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The researchers concluded by stating:

“MC [medical cannabis] seems to mitigate dystonic muscle activity and related pain. Psychiatric side effects of MC treatment have to be monitored especially following treatment initiation. Larger cohort should be further investigated to determine MC efficacy, mechanism of action, optimal doses and the best THC/CBD ratio for the treatment of dystonia.”

As with most topics related to cannabis, more research and better understanding are still needed. However, cannabis has proven time and time again that it is effective in alleviating pain and improving quality of life—in this case, for patients living with dystonia. If you’re interested in using medical cannabis to treat dystonia, make sure to consult with a medical marijuana doctor to avoid any adverse interactions between pharmaceuticals and cannabis.

Medical Cannabis Improves Dystonia Symptoms and Alleviates Pain

The following article is part of conference coverage from the International Congress of Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders (MDS) Virtual Annual Meeting. Neurology Advisor’s staff will be reporting breaking news associated with research conducted by leading experts in neurology. Check back for the latest news from the MDS 2021 Virtual Annual Meeting.

Consumption of medical cannabis in adults with dystonia improves symptoms and alleviates related pain, according to study findings presented at the International Congress of Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Society (MDS) Virtual Congress 2021, held from September 17 to 22, 2021.

Previous research has found medical cannabis may help treat involuntary muscle contractions and reduce related pain in patients with dystonia by the activation of cannabinoid receptors in the basal ganglia that release γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA). This could potentially reduce severity and improve quality of life for patients with dystonia. From 2013, the Israeli Ministry of Health (MOH) has accepted the use of medical cannabis for symptomatic treatment in patients with movement disorders and related pain.

The current study aimed to assess the effect of medical cannabis on dystonia muscle activity and related pain in patients with an MOH-approved medical cannabis license.

Patients with dystonia (n=23) with an approved medical cannabis license from the MOH were contacted via telephone by researchers from the Tel Aviv University, Israel. Using a 5-point Likert scale, participants’ demographics, medical cannabis use, and treatment effects were assessed.

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A total of 11 women and 12 men, with a mean age of 52.7 years, were included in the analysis. Dystonia etiologies were generalized (n=9), focal (n=6), segmental (n=5), hemidystonia (n=2), or multifocal (n=1) caused by Parkinson disease (n=6), monogenic variants (n=4), or unknown (n=13).

Participants indicated that they had been using medical cannabis for an average of 2.5±1.0 years. Medical cannabis was consumed at a mean dose of 22.6±20.1 grams per month and at a frequency of 3.3±4.3 times per day. The medical cannabis was composed of 10.6%±6.6% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and 8.0%±5.7% cannabidiol. Participants also indicated that they used cannabis oil extract (47.8%), smoked dried buds (43.5%), or both (8.7%).

The subjective, self-reported efficacy of medical cannabis for dystonia was 3.3/5, pain was 3.7/5, and quality of life was 3.6/5. The majority of participants (70%) also reported an improvement in sleep.

Participants who experienced more improvements to their dystonia reported using a higher THC dose than those who showed little improvement, with a positive correlation between THC dose and dystonia symptom improvement (R 2 =0.012).

Participants who smoked medical cannabis vs those who consumed the oil were more likely to report dystonia symptom improvement.

Adverse effects included dry mouth (65%), worsening mood (n=3), anxiety (n=2), anxiety with hallucinations (n=1), and suicidal ideation (n=1). Three participants stopped receiving treatment with medical cannabis due to inefficacy or adverse effects.

Study limitations included its small size and the inclusion of patients with differing dystonia symptoms, using uncontrolled dosing and administration methods. Therefore, these findings should be validated in a larger, controlled study.

“[Medical cannabis] seems to improve symptoms of dystonia and related pain. Higher daily dose of THC and smoking rather than sublingual oil are significantly more efficacious,” the researchers concluded.

Reference

Anis S, Faust-Socher A, Sverdlov D, et al. A real-life study of medical cannabis effect on adults with dystonia. Presented at: MDS Virtual Congress 2021; September 17-22, 2021. Poster 93.

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