Cannabidiol (cbd) For Parkinson's Disease - Does It Work?
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is one of the most common neurodegenerative disorders. While it’s not curable, prescription medications may help ease its symptoms, but can you take CBD for Parkinson’s disease?
Pharmacological treatment of Parkinson’s can often lead to side effects like dry mouth, drowsiness, blurred vision, and loss of appetite.
It’s no wonder the use of CBD for Parkinson’s disease has increased tremendously over the past few years.
This article looks at how CBD oil can help ease Parkinson’s disease symptoms, according to current research.
What Is CBD?
CBD products only contain trace amounts of THC, up to 0.3%. Although this amount cannot trigger a euphoric high, it contributes to the entourage effect, a mechanism by which cannabis plant compounds act synergistically to produce more potent therapeutic effects.
Most studies on the medical use of cannabis Sativa have looked at its prevalent cannabinoids – cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
THC is the primary natural compound that gives people a euphoric ‘high.’
CBD does not produce the psychoactive effects of THC and is not addictive. It has garnered a lot of national attention in recent years due to its medicinal properties.
Preliminary evidence indicates that CBD can help alleviate chronic pain, reduce inflammation, and provide neuroprotective effects.
What Is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative brain disorder in which parts of the brain (substantia nigra) are destroyed progressively over many years. This disorder causes a drop in dopamine levels.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter produced naturally by your brain.
Your nervous system utilizes it to communicate signals between nerve cells, helping control important bodily functions such as movement, motivation, mood, memory, and attention.
High or low dopamine levels are associated with common neurodegenerative diseases such as restless leg syndrome, ADHD, and Parkinson’s disease.
Symptoms Of Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s symptoms start slow and are barely noticeable. For instance, most people first experience a tremor in just one hand.
While tremors are quite common, PD is also marked by other symptoms such as slow and imprecise movement, muscle stiffness, and loss of balance.
These symptoms are mostly experienced by middle-aged and older adults.
During the early stages of Parkinson’s disease, your act of writing may become slower, and letters may become smaller. You may also notice your speech become softer or slurred.
Your friends or family may also note a lack of facial expressions or that your leg or arm does not move normally.
Progression Of Parkinson’s Symptoms
As the disease progresses, these symptoms worsen and can interfere with daily living. People with late-stage Parkinson’s disease report;
- Trouble walking and talking
- Sleep disturbances
- Severe tremors
- Urinary difficulties
This disease can also cause Parkinson’s disease dementia (PDD) which interferes with a patient’s cognitive function, leading to;
- Trouble concentrating
- Compromised reasoning skills
Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease
For now, there is yet to be a cure for Parkinson’s disease.
However, supportive therapy and dopaminergic treatments can help treat PD symptoms and improve quality of life.
Medicines help treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s by boosting dopamine levels in the brain, relieving non-motor symptoms, and enhancing the effects of other neurotransmitters that carry messages between brain cells.
Side Effects Of Dopaminergic Treatment
Unfortunately, dopaminergic has been associated with severe side effects like drug interactions and elevating non-motor symptoms.
For instance, antidepressants work by increasing serotonin (a neurotransmitter that regulates mood) levels and decreasing dopamine levels.
Dopaminergic increase the activities of neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain and can make medicines used to treat non motor symptoms less effective.
In addition, the efficacy of prescription drugs tends to decrease over time – a patient may need to consume high doses to experience the same relief.
This often causes adverse effects like loss of appetite, blurred vision, nausea, drowsiness, vomiting, and diarrhea, to say nothing of the risk of a fatal overdose.
Hence, many people feel that alternative medicine such as medical use of cannabis for Parkinson’s may help them cope better with this neurological disorder.
CBD Oil & The Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease
Preclinical studies have found that CBD possesses anti-inflammatory, anti-compulsive, antidepressant, anxiolytic, and antioxidant properties.
Many clinical trials have demonstrated CBD’s potency in treating numerous medical conditions.
Research into the efficacy of CBD treatment for Parkinson’s disease is still in its early stages.
However, there is some evidence that CBD may have positive effects, especially on non-motor symptoms like;
- Sleep problems
5 Potential Benefits Of CBD For Parkinson’s
Many people with Parkinson’s struggle to get quality sleep.
Ongoing research indicates that chemical changes in the brain may disrupt sleep-wake cycles and cause patients to get inadequate and non-restorative sleep.
Not everyone with Parkinson’s disease experiences tremors.
However, it is the most common symptom in people with this disorder.
Tremor results from low dopamine levels in the brain, leading to uncontrolled muscle movements like stiffness and shaking.
Unfortunately, traditional medicines for PD can lead to medicine-triggered tremors. And continued use of the same medication may worsen this symptom.
The good news is that an earlier, smaller study suggests that CBD can help ease unintended muscle movements, potentially treating tremors.
During another recent study, the researchers gave people with Parkinson’s disease CBD doses before a simulated public speaking test.
The researchers noted that while 300mg of CBD significantly lowered the tremor and anxiety induced by the public speaking test, the control group that took a placebo experienced little to no effects.
Pain is not an uncommon symptom in people with Parkinson’s disease. Although this nonmotor symptom is often overlooked, pioneering research shows that 40-80% of people with this disorder report pain.
Patients mostly experience musculoskeletal pain due to decreased mobility, rigidity, postural changes, and sometimes falls.
CBD is commonly used to treat chronic pain. Some studies suggest that CBD alone may effectively relieve nerve pain and back pain by reducing inflammation and interacting with neurotransmitters.
According to another study that involved 22 participants with PD, medical marijuana or cannabis can help relieve pain. However, it’s important to note that medical marijuana contains both CBD and THC.
4. Quality of Life
Patients with Parkinson’s disease often face many challenges to their quality of life (QoL).
Fatigue, depression, cognitive impairment, postural changes, and disability greatly impact the QoL in PD patients.
Researchers suggest that the potential benefits of CBD for Parkinson’s disease can translate to improved quality of life.
A study found that PD patients with no psychiatric symptoms experienced an improved QoL when taking CBD.
This study involved a small group of participants. Hence, further research is necessary to evaluate these findings.
People with Parkinson’s disease can experience psychosis, especially in the later stages.
Affecting up to 50% of PD patients, these symptoms are more severe as people tend to lose touch with reality.
Symptoms of psychosis include vivid dreams, minor illusions, non-disturbing visual hallucinations, delusions, and delirium.
While antipsychotic medications can help treat these symptoms, CBD might be worth a try.
A small study done in 2009 tested the effects of CBD on PD patients with psychotic symptoms.
The researchers found that CBD reduced the severity of this symptom without the risk of potential side effects.
Can CBD Oil Prevent Parkinson’s Disease?
An animal study has pointed to the beneficial effects of CBD as prevention for Parkinson’s disease.
This study indicates that CBD oil may help prevent PD, but it cannot be an effective treatment option after the disease has begun.
Comparably, human studies that investigated whether CBD can play a role in preventing Parkinson’s disease did not produce significant results.
Scientists are still trying to understand why CBD seems to protect animals’ brains but not necessarily a humans brain.
CBD Efficacy For Parkinsons
Most clinical studies investigating the efficacy of CBD for Parkinson’s only administer the compound after a participant is diagnosed with the disease.
It’s important to note that by the time a patient starts showing PD symptoms, nearly 60% of the dopamine receptor neurons in their brain have already deteriorated.
Experts cannot accurately predict who will develop Parkinson’s disease and who will be more resistant to it.
Since the cause of PD is unknown, there are no specific prevention techniques.
However, lifestyle changes like staying active, exercising, and taking natural antioxidants may help lower your risk of developing Parkinson’s.
It is still unclear if everyone can benefit from CBD prevention measures.
CBD for Parkinson’s Disease with The FDA
Currently, the FDA has not approved any cannabis products for diagnosing, mitigating, preventing, or treating Parkinson’s disease.
The only CBD-based medication approved by the FDA is epidiolex to treat two rare and severe forms of epilepsy in children.
A group of researchers from the University of Colorado is investigating the potential benefits of epidiolex for the tremors triggered by Parkinson’s disease.
This small study, involving only 10 participants, is still in its second phase.
Hence, larger studies are still needed to evaluate the ultimate findings of this study.
How to Use CBD for Parkinson’s Disease?
There are various forms of CBD, each of which has its pros and cons. Some forms tend to be more effective than others, depending on the symptoms a CBD user wants to relieve.
Here are the 4 best ways to consume CBD for Parkinson’s disease:
1. Sublingual CBD
These include CBD oils and tinctures, which are consumed sublingually by placing a few oil drops under the tongue.
This method has superior bioavailability and a fast onset of highly potent effects. That’s because the CBD is absorbed directly through the mucus membrane under the tongue into the bloodstream.
The calming effects of CBD will kick in after about 15-30 minutes and may last for 6 hours.
2. Topical CBD
CBD topicals include
You apply a generous amount of the topical on your skin to experience localized relief.
CBD interacts with the cannabinoid receptors in the deeper layers of your skin to reduce inflammation, produce soothing effects, and alleviate pain in a targeted area.
CBD topical effects can take several hours to kick in.
3. CBD Capsules And Pills
CBD capsules are easy to use as they come with a premeasured dose of CBD oil.
All you need to do is consume the number of pills recommended by your physician to experience relief.
This consumption method has a lower bioavailability and delayed onset of effects as the CBD must first pass through the digestive system and liver before being absorbed into the bloodstream.
4. CBD Edibles
CBD gummies are a popular consumption method. You can also infuse CBD in edibles like lollipops, mints, and cookies to enjoy its potent effects.
Like capsules, CBD gummies must first pass through the gut and liver before reaching the bloodstream.
Hence, the onset of their effects is felt after about 40-120 minutes. These effects can last up to 10 hours.
Possible Risks and Side Effects of CBD Oil
Many clinical trials show that CBD is quite safe and well-tolerated by the body.
However, some mild side effects and drug interactions can occur.
The most common side effects of CBD include:
- Dry mouth
- Changes in appetite
CBD can interact with some prescription drugs.
Hence, patients should seek medical advice from their doctors before using CBD.
CBD For Parkinson’s - The Bottom Line
Preliminary studies suggest that use of cannabidiol may benefit people with Parkinson’s disease. Unlike conventional treatment options, CBD does not have time restrictions.
In addition, CBD only produces negligible to no side effects. In fact, this cannabinoid can help ease the side effects of traditional PD treatments.
It’s important to note that studies into CBD for Parkinson’s only began a few decades ago.
Although current results are promising, further studies are still needed before doctors, and the FDA can approve CBD for Parkinson’s.