Marijuana Treatment for Parkinson's Highlighted in Robin Williams's Death

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — As the world mourns the death of beloved comedian and actor Robin Williams, it has emerged this week that the actor's suspected suicide may have been triggered by the fact that he was also suffering from undisclosed Parkinson's.

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Parkinson's disease (PD), the second most common physical, neurological movement disorder after Alzheimer's, is usually diagnosed after age 50. Symptoms of the condition include dyskinesia (slowness or jerkiness of movement), extreme muscle rigidity, slurred speech, depression and extreme and chronic pain.

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Medical marijuana is often used to treat all of these symptoms in many conditions.

However, in the March/April edition of the scientific journal Clinical Neuropharmacology this year, investigators at Tel Aviv University, one of the leading research centers in the world on medical cannabis, also announced that Parkinson's can be dramatically improved by smoking pot.

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Researchers reported that smoked administration of the drug created "significant" improvement in the symptoms suffered by research subjects including dramatically decreased rigidity, tremor and pain and increased ability to properly rest. Patients also reported that the effects lasted for as long as three hours. No adverse effects were reported.

The study, like much of the research conducted in Israel on the topic, was groundbreaking although in Israel Parkinson's is a condition already approved for medical use of marijuana. The nation's medical program has grown dramatically in the last several years and now numbers approximately 20,000 patients nationwide who suffer a multitude of chronic conditions. The Israeli Ministry of Health began authorizing the medical use of cannabis almost 20 years ago and formalized national regulations regarding the same in 2012.