Huntington’s Disease and Medical Cannabis
According to recent studies, medicinal cannabis can provide assistance to people who suffer from the symptoms of Huntington’s disease.
Understanding Huntington’s Disease
Huntington’s disease (HD) is an incurable, hereditary brain disorder that causes the progressive degeneration of the brain. As the disease progresses, it diminishes a person’s ability to talk, walk, and reason. People with this disorder may experience involuntary twitching movements. The disease not only impacts a person’s ability to reason, but those who suffer from it will also experience changes in their personality. Around 250,000 Americans are affected by this disease, or pose a significant risk of inheriting the disorder. People with the adult-onset form of the disease live for about 15 to 20 years after the development of its signs and symptoms.
Symptoms of Huntington’s Disease
Huntington’s disease develops in stages. Some of the disease’s early symptoms include:
- Diminishing motor skills and stiffness
- Increasing signs of depression and irritability
- Poor coordination that makes the person seems clumsy
- Uncontrollable, minor involuntary movements
- Issues with problem-solving and reasoning
The symptoms that occur in the advanced stages of this disease begin to take their toll on everyday life. At this stage, the symptoms include increased difficulty with speaking and swallowing. The person may notice that they are falling without cause, and beginning to drop things. These symptoms are easy to recognize.
In the final stages of Huntington’s disease, the will become completely reliant on the assistance of others. They are no longer able to speak, walk, or control their bodily functions.
The symptoms of Huntington’s in children and teens present themselves differently. Their symptoms progress more rapidly, impact speech, and cause difficulty in walking. They may also have trouble learning new skills and retaining previously learned information.
Medical Cannabis as Part of a Huntington’s Disease Treatment Plan
Currently, there is no cure for Huntington’s disease. However, there is scientific evidence that cannabis is an effective treatment option. In 2011, an animal study published in Britain revealed that cannabinoid receptors may affect the pathogenesis of the disease.
New evidence reveals that cannabinoids may potentially work as neuroprotectants by improving the functioning of mitochondria and reducing the cellular debris that is caused by inflammation. These revelations mean that cannabis may serve as a useful treatment of Huntington’s disease.