Study: Marijuana a Useful Adjunct Treatment for Huntington Disease Symptoms

Study: Marijuana a Useful Adjunct Treatment for Huntington Disease Symptoms

According to a new study published in the Journal of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences, using marijuana as an adjunct treatment for Huntington disease (HD) is both effective and safe. The study states that marijuana can improve neurological symptoms and should be recommended to HD patients by their physicians. The study is titled Medical marijuana effects in movement disorders, focus on Huntington Disease — A literature review.

For the study researchers examined 22 studies which assessed the efficacy of either cannabinoids or herbal marijuana for the alleviation of symptoms of HD and other related movement disorders. Researchers found that “the majority [of them] showed statistically significant results favoring the use of medical marijuana, especially for improving motor symptoms and quality of sleep.”

The study concludes by stating that “physicians consider prescribing medical marijuana as adjunctive treatment for symptomatic relief to slow the progression or reverse spasms, tremor, spasticity, chorea, dystonia, behavioral, neuropsychiatric and sleep disturbances in patients with Huntington disease.”

The study’s abstract – in its entirety – can be found below:

Purpose: We aimed to comprehensively evaluate the effects of medical marijuana on symptoms that are relevant to movement disorders with a focus on Huntington disease (HD).

Methods: A systematic review by literature search through PubMed and EBSCO electronic databases was conducted for relevant studies reported after 2002 on the effects of medical marijuana or cannabis use on tremor, spasm, spasticity, chorea, sleep quality and HD-specific rating scales. Study selection, quality assessment and data extraction was performed by three reviewers. Outcome measures were changes in psychomotor, and sleep related symptoms. The methodological quality of the included studies was evaluated. Results: A total of 22 studies were reviewed. There was strong evidence for significant improvement in the neurologic symptoms of spasms, tremors, spasticity, chorea, and quality of sleep following treatment with medical marijuana. Analysis of specific motor symptoms revealed significant improvement after treatment in tremors and rigidity. Furthermore, all pretreatment and post-treatment measures indicated a significant increase in average number of hours slept.

Conclusion: Larger scale studies are warranted to test the benefits of medical marijuana in HD patients. In the meanwhile, clinicians may consider prescribing medical marijuana as part of their strategy for better symptomatic treatment of patients with HD.

Below are the affiliated institutions which took part in this study:

  • Saint James School of Medicine.
  • KEAN University, College of Natural, Applied and Health Sciences, Union, NJ, USA. Saint James School of Medicine, Basic Medical Sciences, Park Ridge, IL USA.

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