Cannabis and Parkinson's – our survey results
Earlier this year, 1,600 people with Parkinson's and 29 health and care professionals shared their views about and experiences of using cannabis-derived products.
Here's what they said.
When it comes to evidence of the benefits of cannabis-based products for people with Parkinson's, the jury is definitely out.
Although lab studies have shown some promising effects, many unanswered questions remain. These will need a lot more research, both in the lab and in clinical trials.
Between January and March 2019, we asked people with Parkinson's and health professionals to tell us about their experiences with and opinions on using cannabis-based products.
We've now analysed their answers and produced a short report sharing our key findings.
Our policy panel will discuss these findings at their November 2019 meeting and agree what we think as an organisation and our next steps.
How many people with Parkinson's use cannabis?
- 59% hadn't used cannabis-derived products before, but would consider using them to control their symptoms.
- 26% had used cannabis-derived products (16% are currently using them for their Parkinson's and 10% have used them in the past).
- 16% hadn't used cannabis-derived products and aren't interested in using them in the future.
- Overwhelmingly, people with Parkinson's would continue to use, or start using, cannabis-derived products if robust evidence became available that they're safe and effective in treating Parkinson's symptoms.
I'm on maximum levodopa, I'm too old for surgery and the pain can be severe and unmanageable now.
What products are people using?
The most common cannabis-derived product people with Parkinson's used was Cannabidiol (CBD oil). People interested in using a cannabis-derived product in the future said this is what they'd consider using.
If the side effects are less than traditional Parkinson's drugs, then I would want to try cannabis.
where do people get cannabis from?
People who currently use cannabis-derived products, and those who had previously used them, buy them from high street shops.
However, 87% of people who hadn't used cannabis-derived products said they would want a doctor or pharmacist to prescribe them.
What are the side effects?
Respondents who had used cannabis-derived products in the past said they didn't experience side effects, and that the products didn't interact with their Parkinson's medication. This was backed up by professionals.
However, people who hadn't used them said they were worried about potential side effects and interactions with Parkinson's medication.
It works better for me than conventional drugs.
Most people currently using cannabis-derived products, or those who had used them in the past, didn't get advice from professionals beforehand. Those who did are split on whether the advice was helpful.
Professionals reported that patients regularly ask them about using cannabis-derived products. 70% of professional respondents said they offer advice.
86% of professionals didn't feel confident about prescribing cannabis-based medicinal products for their patients, Many weren't sure if the prescribing guidance is fit for purpose (it doesn't specifically mention Parkinson's).
I might consider it if my consultant recommended it and there had been sufficient research into its effectiveness and possible side effects.
Share your experience
Have you had a good or bad experience with a cannabis-derived product? Or do you want to get involved in this area of our work? Contact [email protected] or 020 7963 9349 to find out more.