Research shows a link between Huntington’s disease and a loss of cannabinoid receptors in the basal ganglia. This could be why patients report that marijuana relieves their symptoms — reducing muscle spasms and increasing their range of motion as well as relieving anxiety and mood swings. It could also delay the onset and slow progression of the disease.
Huntington’s disease is a genetic disorder that causes nerve cells in the brain to break down, affecting both the mind and the body of the patient.
The first signs of the disease are usually subtle changes in mood or mental abilities. In time, a lack of coordination and unsteadiness become apparent. As the disease progresses, it becomes more and more difficult to control the body. Jerky body movements are common, and eventually, the patient is unable to walk. The disease also affects the mind, eventually leading to dementia.
Other symptoms include muscle spasm, compulsive behavior, fidgeting, irritability, lack of restraint, paranoia, anxiety and depression.
There is no cure for Huntington’s disease, although treatment can slow the progression.
A 2015 study in the journal Neurotherapeutics found that Cannabigerol (CBG), one of the lesser known cannabinoids in marijuana, reduced the accumulation of mutant Huntington protein which may be responsible for many of the symptoms of the disease.