Researchers in Germany have found more than half of Parkinson’s disease sufferers using cannabinoids to treat their condition report a beneficial clinical impact.

The team at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf conducted a nationwide survey of German Parkinson Association members to test patient perceptions of medicinal cannabis and evaluate the experiences of those already using cannabis products.

More than 8% were already using cannabinoids, with 54% of users reporting a beneficial clinical effect.

More than 40% said it helped with pain management and muscle cramps and more than 20% reported reduced stiffness, freezing, tremor, depression, anxiety and restless legs.

Patients reported inhaled cannabis products containing THC were more effective in treating stiffness than oral products containing CBD, but were slightly less well tolerated.

Patients using cannabis tended to be younger, more urban, and had greater awareness of the legal and clinical aspects of medicinal cannabis.

Around 65% of non-users were interested in using medicinal cannabis, but knowledge about different cannabinoids was limited, with only 9% aware of the differences between THC and CBD. This lack of knowledge, combined with a fear of the side effects, were cited as the main reasons for not trying it.

The study is published in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease.