Pilot study: Can cannabis help Parkinson’s disease?

With the news surrounding the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s (TGA) final decision to down-schedule certain low dose cannabidiol (CBD) preparations from Schedule 4 (Prescription Medicine) to Schedule 3 (Pharmacist Only Medicine), allowing TGA-approved low-dose CBD-containing products to be supplied OTC by a pharmacist, without a prescription, a new pilot study is being conducted to investigate how cannabis may benefit those with Parkinson’s disease.

Dr Andrea Bugarcic and Dr Janet Schloss from the National Centre for Naturopathic Medicine at Southern Cross University are leading the study and urge all patients who may be eligible, to participate in the survey, which will run until the end of February 2021.

“This survey is not just about knowing if cannabis is used by this population but also where they are sourcing it from and any ratio specifications to understand what is working in the context of positive patient outcomes,” says Dr Bugarcic.

“Black-market cannabis preparations are not standardised, and legal-access products are only standardised to CBD and THC – understanding the CBD:THC ratios may be important in understanding what preparation is alleviating different non-motor and motor symptoms experienced by Parkinson’s disease patients.”

Dr Schloss, an experienced medicinal cannabis researcher, says that the survey aims to dispel common misconceptions and steer cannabis users away from potentially dangerous recommendations online.

“Cannabis is not currently prescribed for Australian patients with Parkinson’s disease; however, it is extremely important to look at what people are currently doing, their attitudes and conduct a clinical trial so we know what does work and what doesn’t,” says Dr Schloss.

While research has been done on the topic of cannabis use in neurodegenerative diseases in other countries, this aspect of self-management by Parkinson’s disease patients in Australia has not yet been explored.

To participate in the survey or to find out more information, visit: bit.ly/cannabisPDsurvey

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