Over the past decade or so, medical marijuana has become more accepted across America. As more evidence surfaces for the therapeutic benefits of the drug, we see legal changes on a weekly basis!
Amongst the long list of medical conditions that cannabis has been applied to, Huntington’s Disease is arguably one of the most debilitating and complex. So is it possible that marijuana can do what other prescription drugs have failed to so far?
In this article, we are going to look at what Huntington’s Disease is, and how medical marijuana could be an effective relief for many of its most debilitating symptoms.
What Is Huntington’s Disease?
Huntington’s Disease is a fatal genetic disorder that affects around 30,000 Americans, with a further 150,000 having a high likelihood of developing the condition later down the line.
Unlike many of the conditions cannabis has been used to treat, Huntington’s is fatal with statistics showing that most sufferers live for just 15 – 25 years after diagnosis.
Known as a progressive degenerative disease, Huntington’s increases in severity over time. With an extremely long list of side effects (which increase as time passes) this is by far one of the most horrific conditions to live with.
Also, Huntington’s affects both the sufferer’s mind and body, and while there are treatments out there to relieve these symptoms, there is nothing currently that can slow down or stop the condition.
Some of the most common side effects of Huntington’s include:
- Uncontrolled Movements
- Balance Problems
- Difficulty sleeping, and insomnia
- Fatigue and loss of energy
- Overall clumsiness
- Involuntary jerking movements
- Dystonia (muscle spasms)
- Loss of speech
- Loss of mobility
These are just some of the main side effects of this disease, but there are many more not listed that attribute to the severity of this condition.
While there is nothing that can be done to avoid getting Huntington’s (as it is a defective gene that you are born with), there are many new studies being done into the potential of cannabis as a more effective and natural treatment.
What Are The Current Treatments for Huntington’s disease?
While there is no current cure for this debilitating disease, there are many pharmaceutical treatments designed to relieve some of the worst symptoms that come with Huntington’s.
Unfortunately, as it stands management techniques are the only things available to sufferers, and with medications such as Tetrabenazine (minimizes involuntary movements) and Amantadine (works to suppress spasticity) the only real pharmaceutical options available, there is very little real relief available.
Unfortunately, all the prescribed drugs for Huntington’s come with a list of side effects, along with the high risk of becoming addicted! So it makes sense that more and more people are now looking to Cannabis as a more natural solution.
Is Medical Marijuana Beneficial For Huntington’s Disease?
As a result of extensive research into cannabis and its extremely long list of benefits, there has been promising evidence into the way cannabinoids interact with our internal system. Cannabis is proven to work as an:
For instance, while THC interacts with our CB1 receptor (which is located mostly in the brain, hence the high!), CBD works alongside our endocannabinoid system to promote natural cannabinoid release which plays a part in a variety of regulatory functions!
Now, these are just TWO cannabinoids (THC and CBD) – we now know there are over 100 of them in the cannabis plant, and so the benefits are pretty endless when it comes to the future of medical marijuana! For instance, it has been evidenced that when the CB1 receptor is activated, cannabis then can alleviate specific motor symptoms associated with Huntington’s, such as tremors and involuntary movements!
One of the main side effects of Huntington’s disease is anxiety and depression. For most sufferers of HD, there is usually an onset of depression, which is quite understandable given the seriousness of the condition and the knowledge that it is a fatal disease.
Also, suicide rates are very high in patients of Huntington’s, with most anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications having side effects and addictive qualities that can present quite a challenge in terms of knowing where to turn next for treatment.
Cannabis (and in particular CBD) has been proven to provide relief among those suffering from anxiety and depression. In fact, there have been dozens of studies done into just how effective the plant is in treating this serious issue.
An animal study published in 2013, for example, showed that repeated application of CBD in mice revealed an increase in neurogenesis, which is useful for anxiety and depression. There are many strains that have specifically been bred to combat anxiety and depression, such as Jack Herer and Northern Lights, which will ease these debilitating feelings.
Moreover, there have been many other studies done on medical marijuana and its use for Huntington’s Disease specifically. A study published in 2009, for instance, showed that cannabis helped slow the progression of Huntington’s down. While there are other pharmaceuticals made to do this, Marijuana can do it better, with none of the risks of addiction associated with prescription drugs!
Due to the list above of cannabis’ qualities, there are many other ways that marijuana can help Huntington’s – from relieving nausea and restlessness, to helping with insomnia!
When it comes to Cannabis as a potential treatment for Huntington’s disease, we can’t help but be impressed by the level of its therapeutic abilities! It is still not on the list of qualifying conditions in many states where medical cannabis is legal, but we have hope for the future and we can only hope that this changes very soon!