Dystonia and Cannabis, studies and treatments
Does the name Dystonia ring a bell to you? probably if you’re not one of the many affected, no, but it’s probably the third most common movement disorder in the world. The symptoms of this neurological disease are an unusual muscular tension and involuntary muscle contractions that produce great pain. In this article we cover everything we know about Dystonia, Cannabis and its treatments.
Although grouped under a single name, Dystonia is a group of neurological diseases that have in common its symptoms, abnormal muscle tension, contractions and even involuntary twists.
All of these diseases that cause these symptoms are known to have their origin in the central nervous system, probably in the basal ganglia, although this has not yet been fully confirmed.
In the most severe cases of Dystonia, the effects on the brain can be clearly seen, leading researchers to conclude that it is a chemical dysfunction type, which is encouraging for developing effective treatments.
There are several types of Dystonia documented, the first one is ITD, idiopathic torsional Dystonia. It usually begins at a very early age, appearing in one limb, and then passes to another part of the body and spreads. The vast majority of cases have a hereditary genetic origin, although there are some spontaneous onset cases.
Then we have the X-dystonies, that curiously tend to affect mostly young men in the Philippines, appear moderately at a young age and get worst over the years, often it is linked to Parkinson’s disease.
Responsive Dopa dystonia, also appear in early ages or adolescence, in this case mostly in Japan, although cases have been reported in the USA and Europe. They take their name from the treatment with Dihydroxyphenylalanine, which it has a positive effect on treatments, leading to complete remission in some cases.
On the other hand we have focal Dystonia, which is much more concrete and affects only a one part of the body, there are 5 types. Writer’s cramp, as its name indicates, affects when the person is written and remits when it stops. Blepharospasm, where the eyes close tightly involuntarily for minutes or hours. Cervical, where involuntary neck and head movements and twists occur. Buccal, which affects the vocal cords and modifies voice, breathing and pronunciation. And the hemifacial, where certain muscles of the face contract.
Finally, secondary dystoniae exist, which are usually produced by blows or a small lack of oxygen at birth. Although it can also be associated with diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
Dystonia and marijuana studies
In 2002 a case study was published in the well known research paper The Journal of Pain, in which a case study of a middle-aged patient was tested. This patient indicated in the pain scale that he suffered a 9 (which is considered as very high because the ceiling is 10), after consuming Cannabis in a smoked form, the same patient indicated on the same scale a 0, which is the same as a total absence of pain. After consuming Cannabis smoked he did not need any other medication in 48 hours, the researchers had made multiple tests of another types with this subject and concluded:”No other intervention treatment to date has resulted in such an improvement of the patient”. Here you can see the complete study.
In the same year, another major study on Dystonia and Cannabis reported in European Journal of Pharmacology its title is Effects of pharmacological manipulations of cannabinoid receptors on severe dystonia in a genetic model of paroxysmal dyskinesia. Different cannabinoids were tested on mice affected by various Dystoniae. The results were encouraging, showing probably explained improvement since cannabinoids produce a modulating effect of the different systems of neurotransmitters located in the basal ganglia. Link to the study.
Chronologically the next study on Dystonia and Cannabis was in 2004, in this case in Germany. A group of medical researchers from Hannover conducted a single-dose, placebo-controlled study with a middle-aged professional musician. 5mg of THC were administered orally to the patient, after 2 hours the patient was able to play a piano piece, which he had not been possible to perform before the treatment. The study can be reached here.
Also in 2004 another study was published in Movement Disorders magazine, researchers from Argentina found a significant clinical improvement in a 25-year-old subject. In this case the administration was by inhalation. The study can be viewed at the following link.
Dystonia is classified as a rare disease, yet it affects more people than it seems. There are many ongoing research and support groups for those affected, here you can find official useful information about this condition.
On the other hand, research on the treatment of Dystonia and Cannabis seems revealing, but since it is still a controlled by the authorities plant, no further progress is being made in this respect. From Experiencia Natural we always tell you everything we know about marijuana and its beneficial effects for illnesses, however we always recommend to consult with a medical specialist before start any treatment. The information published in this blog should never be taken as medical advice or prescription.