Updated on December 16, 2022. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Shatha Atiya.
Cerebral palsy is a crippling disorder that affects a person’s ability to move and maintain balance. The word cerebral points to a brain-related condition, and palsy points to a weakness or problem with the muscles. It prevents people from leading a productive life, often forcing them to rely on family for care.
Although there is no definitive answer yet as to whether medical marijuana can help patients with cerebral palsy (CP), many are hopeful that it may provide some relief. Cannabis is thought to help with pain control and reduce the frequency of seizures and spastic movements.
Although many patients and doctors alike are open to the possibility of using marijuana to treat CP symptoms, there is an emphasis on the need for more high-quality research in this area.
Cerebral Palsy Symptoms
There are several different types of cerebral palsy which can be characterized by abnormal muscle reflexes, weak motor coordination and development, and lack of muscle tone. Some individuals may also experience joint or bone deformities that make it difficult for them to move around and interact with the world. While there is no cure for cerebral palsy, early diagnosis and specialized treatment can help those affected manage their symptoms more effectively, improving their overall quality of life.
Common symptoms associated with cerebral palsy include:
- Involuntary movements
- Unsteady gait
- Decreased muscle mass
- Problems with balance
- Chronic pain
- Difficulty with speech
The above is a summarized list of symptoms, but every person with cerebral palsy may present several other symptoms. CP affects the entire body and not just one isolated part.
The hope of using medical marijuana for cerebral palsy as a treatment is to address these issues and restore some mobility for the sufferers.
Current Cerebral Palsy Treatments
There are several traditional treatments available for people living with cerebral palsy. Some of the most common ones target specific symptoms that a person may be experiencing, while others focus on remedying a broader set of traits.
These can include medications such as muscle relaxants, baclofen pumps, surgical interventions, and assistive technologies such as orthotic devices and prosthetics. Other possible treatments may include physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and cognitive behavior therapy.
Ultimately, the right treatment approach will depend on the individual’s needs and preferences, as well as any other medical conditions they may possess. Regardless of which approach is used, however, it is important to keep in mind that cerebral palsy is a lifelong condition, and managing its symptoms requires constant care and surveillance.
The current medications available focus on treating tight muscles. They may also improve general functioning and help combat spasticity complications. The drug prescribed depends on what symptoms the person is experiencing. There are claims that the best medical marijuana for cerebral palsy offers the same benefits as many mainstream drugs.
A more invasive treatment includes Botox injections. It’s useful for relaxing muscle spasticity in one concentrated area of the body. A doctor injects the liquid into the muscle, nerve, or both. The treatment is repeated every three months. Unfortunately, the side effects of Botox treatments can include bruising, swelling, mild flu, and pain.
Certain therapies can help people suffering from CP. These include occupational, speech, and recreational therapy, all aim to improve speech and motor skills while promoting a healthier sense of well-being. Many people believe that using medical marijuana for cerebral palsy in conjunction with therapy will enhance the results.
For people suffering from severe muscle tightness and bone abnormalities, an operation is at times a viable option. Orthopedic surgeons can cut the nerves to relax muscles and reduce pain. However, the procedure is risky and can, in some cases, cause numbness.
Cerebral Palsy Alternative Treatments
A number of alternative treatments are available that can help patients manage the symptoms associated with cerebral palsy and improve the quality of life for those affected by the condition.
Some of these treatments include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, acupuncture, and meditation. And with the continued legalization of cannabis for medicinal purposes, treatments with medical marijuana are also gaining popularity.
While each of these approaches works in slightly different ways, they all share the goal of helping individuals with the condition gain more control over their bodies and better adapt to their environment. Whether through strengthening the body or relieving stress, alternative treatments for cerebral palsy offer hope to those who live with this debilitating condition.
Marijuana and Cerebral Palsy
A study published in the American Journal of Physical Medical Rehabilitation shows that medical marijuana has the potential for treating pain in patients with cerebral palsy. The study found that cannabis gave the patients the most relief from pain.
Even though that sounds promising, the fact is that less than 5% of the respondents used marijuana for pain relief. While more research is needed to confirm these findings, the study provides hope that cannabis may be an effective treatment for pain in patients suffering from CP.
Another study reported positive results when a patient suffering from epilepsy and CP showed definite improvement through medical marijuana use.
If further studies confirm these findings, it could lead to increased access to medical marijuana for this population and help improve their quality of life.
Medical Marijuana Methods
For individuals and their loved ones who are pursuing the route of natural therapy, there are various ways of using medical marijuana for cerebral palsy. Each suggested method depends on the patient’s preference and ability to use the technique.
Some common ways of administering marijuana include:
Getting the best medical marijuana in the form of edibles is an easy option for patients and their families. Often they are found in the form of cookies, brownies, or gummy bears. Edibles are a convenient way to consume cannabis. However, since they’re ingested and have to be absorbed by the digestive system, they can take a while to kick in.
You can easily purchase medical marijuana seeds from a reputable supplier and grow a couple of plants at home. Once the crops mature, you can use them to make your edibles.
Smoking and vaping
The inhaling of cannabis is the quickest way of getting the benefits to kick in. However, not all people enjoy smoking and it can be harmful to the lungs. Furthermore, smoking marijuana can leave an unpleasant odor that some people are very sensitive to.
Vaping does less harm but can be more expensive than smoking. Keep in mind that the devices require charging to be used.
Tinctures are alcohol-based blends used by placing a few drops under the tongue. You can also add the mixture to food such as soups, juices, mashed potatoes, and other dishes. If a patient has difficulty using other methods, this is a more convenient way to easily ingest medical marijuana for cerebral palsy.
Another way of getting medical marijuana is purchasing it in the form of infused sprays. They come in various flavors and are a discreet way to get the herb into the bloodstream. You need one or two sprays on the tongue for fast-acting effects.
Medical Marijuana — Newest Treatment for Cerebral Palsy
There’s no doubt that the medical community needs to do more research on the potential of medical marijuana as a treatment for cerebral palsy. Still, a few published reports indicate that the herb has enormous potential as a treatment for the symptoms presented by CP.
States where cannabis is legal for medicinal use
Arizona | Arkansas | Connecticut | Delaware | Hawaii | Louisiana | Maine | Maryland | Michigan | Minnesota | Missouri | Montana | New Jersey | New Mexico | New York | Ohio | Oklahoma | Pennsylvania | Rhode Island | West Virginia
States with low-THC medical marijuana laws
Jennifer Galagher, a pharmacist at SeedSupreme Seedbank, with 5+ years in the pharmacy field regarding cannabis. Galagher constantly upgrades her knowledge and skills in the cannabis industry. Her constant thirst for knowledge allows her to stay up to date with all the latest research and discoveries in the cannabis field.