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Huntington’s Disease and Cannabis

Huntington’s disease (HD, Huntington’s chorea) is a hereditary condition that makes nerve cells in the brain degenerate over time. While Huntington’s disease is a genetic condition, it usually takes years before the symptoms become visible. This disease leads to movement difficulties as well as cognitive and psychiatric disorders. It’s also accompanied by symptoms that can gradually worsen the patient’s functional abilities over time. This means Huntington’s disease sufferers will need help with all of their daily activities.

Cannabis for Huntington’s Disease Treatment

There is currently no cure for Huntington’s disease. Sufferers usually take treatments to manage the symptoms of the disease. Since Huntington’s is a progressive condition that worsens over time, it means the medications for the disease will change over time. Most of the current drugs for Huntington instead increase the side effect rather than decrease it. Patients also undergo different types of therapies to gain relief from the symptoms of HD.

The recent surge in medical marijuana gives hope for many patients with severe conditions. Medical marijuana can allow Huntington sufferers to live a normal life by reducing anxiety. Since the disease is fatal, most of its sufferers usually undergo a lot of anxiety and stress. Medical marijuana is free of the side effects that come with normal prescription medications.
Medical marijuana can ease discomfort, minimize nausea, increase appetite and stimulate sleep in Huntington patients.

Cannabis offers pain-relieving properties for some symptoms and it also slows down the progression of the disease. CBD, the primary therapeutic compound of the cannabis plant offers neuroprotective properties, and this helps to prevent neurons from being damaged in the brain and spinal cord.

Another cannabis compound, THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid), the non-psychoactive form of THC, can lessen inflammation and act as a neuroprotectant. THCA is a highly underestimated cannabinoid and scientists are still to conduct detailed studies on the benefits of the compound. THCA is a pure form of THC and when it’s heated, it converts to THC.

Research on Marijuana and Huntington’s Disease

Research on cannabis compounds and their effect on Huntington’s disease is still limited due to its being a schedule 1 drug. However, a recent study on the impacts of cannabis on Huntington sufferers showed that participants experienced relief from symptoms which were difficult to treat with prescription pills.

Another study on animals showed more promise. According to the study, a mutant species of hamsters suffering from dystonia, another prototype of Huntington, received a synthetic cannabis compound that interacts with similar receptors as THC. The hamsters experienced symptoms of dystonia that included slow, rapid, and jerky movements, which is similar to the symptoms of Huntington. The result of this study showed that the hamsters experienced a reduction in symptoms after being administered with the synthetic cannabinoid.

Bottom line

Studies on cannabis and Huntington’s disease are showing a lot of promise on hamsters but cannabinoids haven’t been proven on humans with Huntington’s disease. However, medical cannabis can still provide relief for some symptoms and enhance the quality of life.