Parkinson's disease is a degenerative disorder, which affects the central nervous system by destroying dopamine-producing cells in an area of the brain known as the substantia nigra. Motor functions are the first to be affected, and as the disease progresses, cognitive decline, dementia and depression can occur.
The loss of dopamine-producing neurons is the main mechanism of Parkinson's disease.
Dyskinesia is a common symptom of Parkinson's disease (PD). The term refers to the involuntary movements of the muscles produced in nervous diseases.
The cannabinoid receptors of the central nervous system are grouped in an area of the substantia nigra known as the reticulated part, an area that basically participates in the signaling of dopamine towards the striatum of the basal ganglia, the main region responsible for the regulation of motor activity.
Cannabinoid receptors are also present in large numbers in the same basal ganglia. Therefore, the natural transmission of endocannabinoids is believed to play a role in these fundamental and related processes.
Abnormal apoptosis of dopamine-producing neurons in the compact part (the other major subdivision of the substantia nigra) is believed to be the main mechanism of Parkinson's disease. It is not known precisely how this phenomenon occurs, but it has been repeatedly shown that treatment with dopamine agonist receptors can have beneficial effects, since they compensate for the loss of neurons by stimulating the remaining ones to produce extra dopamine.
The endocannabinoid system is known to be involved in the regulation of the natural processes of apoptosis, a form of controlled cell death, which is an essential part of normal metabolic function. In some cases, cannabinoids have been shown to induce apoptosis (for example, in various forms of cancer), but there is also evidence that they can exert a protective effect and reduce excessive rates of apoptosis in certain diseases.
The apoptosis of neurons in the substantia nigra is responsible for the reduction of dopamine levels in PD.
People with Parkinson's often have problems related to sleep, which can negatively affect the immune system and reduce the ability of patients to fight against the progression of their disease.
It is a known fact that cannabis induces sleep, and has been used for this purpose since ancient times in various cultures. On the other hand, one of the main symptoms of cannabis withdrawal in dependent users is insomnia.
Up to 40% of individuals affected by PD present with symptoms of depression, which can negatively affect the progression of the disease in various ways. It is believed that there is a genetic component in the probability that people with Parkinson's suffer from depression, and that polymorphisms of the CNR1 gene, which encodes the expression of CB1 receptors, may play an essential role.