In today’s article on CBD, we will be looking at CBD for Parkinson’s Disease and its potential to improve the quality of life for those who suffer from Parkinson’s. About 10 million people worldwide are afflicted with Parkinson’s Disease. While this number may seem relatively small, the symptoms are very debilitating and challenging to live with.
Let’s begin with a quick recap on CBD before moving onto some background information on Parkinson’s disease and the current research regarding CBD for this ailment.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol, usually abbreviated to CBD, is a one of over 100 chemical compounds called cannabinoids sourced from the Cannabis Sativa L. plant. Cannabinoids are also naturally produced in the human body and interact with neurotransmitters throughout the body and brain. This is called the endocannabinoid system. Studies have shown that cannabinoids like CBD are capable of producing many positive effects. They have been helpful in reducing pain, relieving symptoms of multiple sclerosis, insomnia and depression, and are capable of stopping certain kinds of epilepsy in their tracks.
What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease, abbreviated as PD, is a neurological disease usually affecting people from the age of 60. As a neurological disorder, it affects the nervous system in the brain and damages and inhibits the production of dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in charge of communicating with the body to perform movement. Without the proper dopamine level, those who suffer from PD experience a loss of facial expression and motor skills, have difficulty with balance, and suffer from tremors and muscle pains. PD also runs the risk of eventually developing into a form of dementia known as Parkinson’s disease dementia (PDD), which impairs memory and other cognitive functions.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease may not be noticeable right away, but it is a progressive disease so the issues it causes will develop and worsen over time. The tremors caused by PD usually affect the limbs, neck, jaw, and torso. This makes it difficult to walk and produces something called the Parkinson’s gait, which is easily identifiable by a stooped posture, shuffling feet, and an inability to swing one’s arms naturally while walking. This impairment to movement caused by PD is medically known as “dyskinesia”.
The issues with Parkinson’s disease do not stop at tremors, however. Sufferers may also experience slurred speech, trouble swallowing, hallucinations and delusions, lose of memory, inability to concentrate, anxiety, lack of energy, depression, pain, and insomnia. Needless to say, the quality of life experienced by those who suffer from Parkinson’s is greatly reduced by the symptoms. Treatment for PD can range from medication that either boosts or mimics the effect of dopamine to surgery. There is currently no cure for the disease and the medication often comes with negative side effects such as drowsiness, issues with vision, nausea, diarrhea, and more.
Now let’s take a look at the potential of CBD as an alternative treatment method for Parkinson’s disease.
CBD for Parkinson’s
As mentioned earlier, naturally occurring cannabinoids in our bodies interact with neurotransmitters in the brain and body. Many of these are found in the basal ganglia, which is a collection of brain cells responsible for controlling movement and are directly affected by Parkinson’s disease. It has been suggested that CBD maybe able to bind to these receptors and help relieve the symptoms of PD.
Both preclinical and clinical studies have been conducted on the effects of CBD for Parkinson’s disease, but there have been mixed findings thus far, suggesting that more research is needed. On the positive results side, a study on the oral intake of CBD oil to treat PD found generally positive results with fast acting alleviation of tremors. Another small study found that CBD reduced psychotic symptoms of Parkinson’s disease dementia but failed to alleviate the dyskinesia symptoms.
Professor of Neurology and Chief of the Movement Disorders Division at the University of Colorado, Maureen A. Leehey, MD, conducted a small study (seven participants) on CBD and Parkinson’s disease with very positive findings. Ultimately, both rigidity and pain were significantly reduced in the patients after taking CBD.
In a double-blind trial conducted in Brazil on the effects of CBD on Parkinson’s disease, 21 patients were divided into three groups: a 75mg of CBD per day group, a 300mg of CBD per day group, and a placebo control group. The results were assessed in the fields of motor function and general symptoms, quality of life, and potential neuroprotective elements. Although the results showed that there were no significant improvements in motor function and general symptoms or perceived neuroprotectivity, a large improvement in quality of life was found between the 300mg and placebo groups suggesting, at the very least, that CBD has high potential to alleviate day to day issues caused by PD.
To counter the findings in the research above, however, studies funded by the MJFF (Michael J. Fox Foundation) have shown that there are indeed anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of CBD, suggesting neuroprotective elements after all.
Finally, there are a few videos circulating around the Internet on YouTube, Facebook, etc. that portray CBD reducing Parkinson’s tremors very quickly in a few people. These videos might still only be considered anecdotal evidence, but the almost immediate results they portray are incredible.
While there certainly seems to be a need for additional research with a larger number of participants, the current examples of CBD for Parkinson’s are rather promising and will hopefully be the foundation for more in depth studies in the future. If you have any questions about CBD or a health related topic in general, please feel free to contact us by making use of the site chat feature on the bottom right of the screen.
Before you go, just remember:
- Parkinson’s disease impairs motor function, causes body tremors, and can even lead to dementia
- There is no cure for PD, and traditional treatment often comes with unwanted side-effects
- Research on CBD for Parkinson’s disease has turned up mixed results so far but shows potential
- Some evidence points to CBD being a fast-acting method to reduce PD tremors