Cerebral palsy is a debilitating congenital neurological disorder that happens either due to brain injury, or irregular brain development while in the womb, or during or soon after childbirth. The disorder has a lifetime effect on balance, body movement, motor function and muscle coordination, with symptoms arising from infancy.
Furthermore, several unhelpful symptoms can result from cerebral palsy. These include vision and hearing difficulties, muscle pain and spasticity, loss of control over bowel and bladder function and seizures. There are few safe treatments for cerebral palsy, and those that do exist are often expensive and only treat certain symptoms. However, medical cannabis could be about to change how scientists and doctors look at treatments for the condition.
Why cannabis might help
A survey showed that medical cannabis a more effective pain management tool for adults coping with cerebral palsy than any other medication. Meanwhile, a case study on a middle-aged male with the neurological disorder concluded that cannabis could offer a meaningful improvement to symptoms.
The patient studied experienced two to three intense nightly seizures, which were referred to as “screaming seizures.” However, smoking marijuana just before bed cleared up the patient’s night-time seizures and reduced his daytime seizures from daily to just one in a year and a half.
The Wolfson Medical Center in Israel recently found that cannabis oil was very beneficial for children with cerebral palsy. The study was reported on in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
According to Luba Blumkin, a child neurologist who led the study, the researchers used “several evaluation indexes” to provide an in-depth look at the effectiveness of cannabis therapy. The study focussed on the changes marijuana made to motor function, muscle spasticity and dystonia. Pain levels, sleep patterns, mood, constipation and overall quality of life was also assessed.
The investigation administered two types of cannabis oil to the child patients, with CBD to THC ratios of 6:1 and 20:1. The treatment made significant improvement to the children’s bowel control, mood, motor function, sleep quality and pain.
Several cannabinoids may be beneficial for cerebral palsy patients
THC, CBD and THCa (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid) have all displayed neuroprotective properties in studies, a trait which can certainly slow the onset of cerebral palsy symptoms and allow patients to live a better quality of life. The anti-inflammatory, anti-eplipetic and anti-spasmodic effects offered by various cannabinoids makes the herb a potent pain management medicine, without the addictiveness of opioids.
So far, just Connecticut has specifically focused on the medicinal value of cannabis as a treatment for cerebral palsy, having it as a qualifying condition for their medical cannabis program. However, cerebral palsy is often covered by umbrella-like qualifying conditions that some states have, such as “intractable pain treatment.”
The research from Israel and other parts of the world should give cerebral palsy patients hope heading into the future. In the US, at least, it shouldn’t be long before every state’s medical marijuana program includes the condition.
While not necessarily a standalone treatment, cannabis can be a “good supplement” in a cerebral palsy treatment plan, according to Lihi Bar-Lev Scleider, research manager for the aforementioned Israeli study. Furthermore, with cannabis so far showing no side effects, even with regular use, it could be that the herb is one of the safest treatments available.