Cannabis research is flooding in nowadays, with scientists investigating the herb’s potential to treat various conditions – and often coming back with promising results. For cannabis to be determined as a working treatment for a condition, the herb is usually tried on animal models first, and encouraging findings here pave the way for more extensive research. If cannabis is only tested on animals, researchers can get a gist of how the herb works and affects the endocannabinoid system, but there’s no guarantee any successes will translate to humans.
But it appears that Huntington’s Disease may be treatable with marijuana, after a world-first clinical trial produced encouraging data. It’s another notch for cannabis, which has proven a vital treatment for many patients with intractable epilepsy.
Huntington’s Disease explained
Huntington’s disease is a life-threatening genetic disorder that causes the deterioration and eventual total breakdown of nerve cells in the brain. Huntington’s is a slow developing disease, that gradually reduces a person’s physical and mental functions over time. Many Huntington’s patients are left unable to walk unaided.
With no cure for Huntington’s and a huge void in suitable treatments for the disease, some patients have gone in search of alternatives. Scientists, meanwhile, are concentrating their efforts on neuroprotective drugs to develop a drug which can stop damage to cortical and striatal neurons. Their search has led them to marijuana.
Can marijuana treat Huntington’s?
Scientists are steadily improving their understanding of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and have discovered that the progression of Huntington’s is connected to this regulatory network of neurotransmitters. Knowing that cannabidiol (CBD) is the most effective cannabinoid in modulating the ECS, researchers consider cannabis products worthy of further study as a treatment for Huntington’s.
British company GW Pharmaceuticals have joined forces with the Ramon y Cajal University Hospital’s Foundation for Biomedical Investigation to treat Huntington’s disease patients with cannabis as part of a clinical trial.
Sativex, an approved drug to treat Multiple Sclerosis was used in the clinical trial, which was carried out under double-blind, placebo-controlled standards. This cannabinoid drug contains a balance of CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), two cannabinoids with a plethora of therapeutic properties.
As the first ever clinical trial conducted in its field, there’s not too much we can glean from this study into Huntington’s and Sativex, with no conclusive findings on an improvement in motor and cognitive function following treatment. But this trial is the first step to a more thorough study into Huntington’s disease, cannabis and the ECS.
The research team behind this trial are optimistic that marijuana will, in time, be used as a Huntington’s disease treatment. The next step is for cannabis to be administered to Huntington’s patients over a longer period to determine whether improvements are genuine and if cannabis is a long-term solution. Inevitably, this will be a lengthy process, but with scientists now moving in the right direction, the world is closer to a quality treatment for Huntington’s than ever.
Do you know anybody that is successfully treating Huntington’s with marijuana? Drop us a line below.