Whenever there are talks regarding the health benefits and therapeutic properties of weed, the spotlight is usually on certain chemicals of the plant in the form of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). There is another certain cannabinoid that is getting attention as well: tetrahydrocannobinolic acid or THCA. Just like THC and CBD, THCA has neuroprotective abilities that may be helpful for patients who have cerebral palsy (CP).
What is Cerebral Palsy?
Congenital neurological disorder, cerebral palsy remains incurable. This brain disorder affects a person’s posture, coordination, and movement. Often, it is present in toddlers by the time they are three years old. However, it can continue into adulthood and can even result in paralysis.
There are a variety of symptoms of the disorder, ranging from mild spasms to severe seizures. Other symptoms include:
- Muscle tension
- Sleep disturbance
- Impaired hearing, speech, and/or vision
There is no known cause for this disorder but among the recent theories include birth traumas such as lack of oxygen while still in the womb.
Can Cannabis Really Help Patients with the Brain Disorder?
For several years now, cannabis has been widely acclaimed for its positive effects as a part of homeopathic treatments for pediatric epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. When it comes to cerebral palsy, new research offers promising data about how cannabis can lend a helping hand toward treating the brain condition.
There are already a number of scientific studies and surveys that showed how cannabis had provided relief for people living with cerebral palsy. In one survey, it recorded that medical marijuana is the best treatment method for alleviating pain for adults with CP. Meanwhile, a case study noted that there is a significant improvement in symptoms for a middle-aged man after he has included medical marijuana in his treatment.
The patient had extreme symptoms to the point where he would scream while having seizures, which would typically happen at least twice every night. As part of his cerebral palsy treatment, he added smoking cannabis to his bedtime routine. Miraculously, this particular patient no longer experienced those once-regular screaming seizures. He also suffered from daily daytime seizures, but after using marijuana, he just had one seizure within an 18 month period.
The positive effect is not only for adults. Quite recently, cannabis oil was discovered to considerably improve the condition of younger patients with cerebral palsy. Wolfson Medical Center in Israel used the oil for the children with CP, and it helped improve the sleep quality of the patients, as well as their bowel control, overall mood, motor function, and pain.
Why Cannabis May Be Effective Against Cerebral Palsy
THC, THCA, and CBD, as mentioned, all offer neuroprotective effects for the young and old patients. These three, along with the other cannabinoids in cannabis, play an important role in helping the patients manage their symptoms. With such benefits, cannabis can contribute to improving the quality of life of those with cerebral palsy.
The chemicals in cannabis have properties that make them effective in relieving pain. They can help reduce spasms, epileptic episodes, and inflammation. Aside from these benefits, cannabinoids are also valuable when it comes to controlling seizures.
Cannabis vs. Prescription Drugs
There have been studies that showed how the conventional medications for cerebral palsy as well as for multiple sclerosis can be hard for the body to adjust to. There could be many unwanted side effects that may prove to be with unfortunate results in the end. CP actually shares some traits with multiple sclerosis or MS, which is a nervous system disorder. MS patients also suffer from muscle rigidity, impaired coordination, and pain.
MS and CP also share something similar: it is possible to treat them using marijuana. Because of this choice in treatment, there are some people with loved ones with either MS or CP who may have been wondering how cannabis compares to prescription drugs for the two disorders.
According to research and surveys, medical marijuana is as effective as other remedies. In fact, there are proponents of cannabis who believe that it is more effective than other methods of treatment, especially for cerebral palsy. Even better, cannabis does not have severe side effects unlike with many prescription drugs.
Marijuana does have side effects when taken for treating some diseases. However, these side effects are often limited to:
- Dry mouth
- Sore throat
For others, the worst of all side effects they encounter is simply a temporary anxious feeling which would usually go away in just a few hours. Some people do not even experience this effect at all. The three mentioned side effects, even including the anxiety feeling, pale in comparison with some of the drug-related side effects. For instance, the Neurontin drug (gabapentin), which is used as an anticonvulsant for cerebral palsy as well as for multiple sclerosis typically cause the following drug-associated problems:
- Increased suicidal thoughts
- Multi-organ hypersensitivity
- The third one listed above is an allergic reaction that can potentially be life-threatening.
- Using Cannabis for Cerebral Palsy
Unfortunately for patients or for those with loved ones who suffer from cerebral palsy, cannabis is still underutilized as a method of treatment for the condition. It remains underused even after multiple studies showed that it has the ability to effective lessen pain due to stiffness of the muscles because of CP. In fact, a report published in the journal Rehabilitation noted that only four out of 83 people or less than 5% of the study’s sample ever used cannabis for pain management.
However, here is some good news. Massachusetts, as well as other states in the USA, is continuing to expand and create their programs for medical marijuana. This may be an indication that cannabis is destined to increase in popularity, especially for treating pain caused by cerebral palsy.
It is a safe and effective alternative treatment to common drugs, especially for pain. It can even be used by those who may be suffering from speech defects and impediments since cannabis can help relax the muscles in the face effectively.