While at least one study has suggested that cannabinoid therapy could help treat symptoms of Huntington’s Disease, the first-ever clinical trial investigating the efficacy of cannabis extracts in treating the disease was less than positive.
Huntington’s, the debilitating, scary neurodegenerative disorder that claimed the lives of both musician Woody Guthrie and renowned NBC journalist Charles Sabine, destroys neurons in the basal ganglia – the area of the brain which controls movement, cognition, and normal psychiatric functioning.
In addition to the psychomotor symptoms, sufferers frequently experience depression that causes many to commit suicide. There is no known cure for the disease, although medications can help manage it.
The double-blind, placebo-controlled study, completed at the Ramon y Cajal University Hospital’s Foundation for Biomedical Investigation in Madrid, was commissioned by the makers of the prescription cannabinoid spray Sativex.
It showed that while cannabinoids are safe to administer to Huntington’s Disease sufferers, there was no statistical difference in motor or cognitive deficits after treatment with the drug.
Marijuana can alleviate some symptoms
That being said, as Medical Jane points out, while cannabinoids might not help with the mental and motor symptoms, medical marijuana could help alleviate other symptoms, like pain caused by dystonia, sleepdisturbance, depression, and anxiety.
The authors of the Ramon y Cajal University Hospital’s Foundation study recommended further investigation of cannabinoid therapy for Huntington’s Disease, using higher doses for more prolonged periods of time.