Dystonia is a neurological movement disorder syndrome in which involuntary repetitive muscle contractions and spasms result in abnormal fixed postures or twisting. It can affect only one muscle, a group of muscles or even the entire body. It is believed to affect 1 % of the world’s population and it has been found to be more prevalent in women. In general, the cause is unknown. However, what is known is that it is often related to a problem with the basal ganglia (the area of the brain in control of initiating muscle contractions). It has also been found to be a sign of other illnesses such as Parkinson’s and Wilson’s disease.
Symptoms often associated with Dystonia
- Cramping in the foot/ feet
- Speech difficulties
- Uncontrollable blinking
- Involuntary pulling of the neck
- A “dragging leg”
Muscle fatigue and stress from constant spontaneous movements can be one of the things that prompt the other symptoms to become worse. Strong pain killers (like opioids) and muscle relaxers provides some relief. Pain experienced can vary from nothing to severe, all depending on the personal tolerance and/or the source of the problem. In addition, current treatments focus on blocking nerve communications with the muscles. Unfortunately, all prescriptions come with negative side effects and possible addiction and dependency.
Research about medical cannabis and dystonia
After extensive research it has been found that Cannabidiol (CBD) is one safe alternative, due to its powerful analgesic mechanism, extremely low risk for addiction and virtually no adverse effects. Thus, CBD has anti-inflammatory, anxiolytic, antioxidant and neuroprotective properties, among others.
Another disease that disrupts signals between the brain and the rest of the body is Multiple Sclerosis (MS). CBD has been shown to improve some symptoms in this neurological problem, such as decreases muscle spasms.
Literature continues to include more case reports and surveys of CBD´s benefits. According to a case reported, a patient with dystonia secondary to Wilson’s disease, obtained marked improvement in response to the inhalation of Cannabis. Another published paper review found that the use of Cannabidiol showed a dose-response relationship, in order to see changes in dystonia.
Although studies in this area are difficult to do, there is a clear role for cannabis products in symptom management for this neurologic condition.