Ever since the introduction and apparent boom of the CBD industry, it is no denying that various attempts have already been done to review its potential in treating different neurological illnesses, including Parkinson’s Disease.
To date, although there is much more to be discovered about this compound and its effect on the human body, available studies focusing on the connection of CBD and Parkinson’s Disease somehow show that cannabidiol has the potential to offer relief for the debilitating symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease.
To let you stay updated and recognize what scientists have discovered about the true connection of CBD and PD so far, we have prepared an extensive guide on what you need to know about this topic.
What is CBD?
CBD, or cannabidiol, refers to a type of chemical compound found in the cannabis plant. Essentially, it is one of the 120 molecules, called “cannabinoids,” produced uniquely by the cannabis family.
Similar to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), another type of cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant, CBD promises a lot of therapeutic effects, including pain relief, anti-inflammation, and anti-anxiety.
However, despite the similarity in terms of their therapeutic properties, what distinguishes CBD from THC is that the former is non-psychoactive, meaning it doesn’t produce the “high” sensation associated with marijuana consumption. This is because unlike THC, CBD’s chemical structure prevents it from attaching to brain receptors associated with thinking, memory, pleasure, coordination, and time perception. Because of this, it fails to stimulate cells in the brain into releasing loads of dopamine that results in euphoric or “high” feelings.
This non-psychoactive quality of CBD, which does not alter a person’s state of mind, makes it a potential alternative to enjoy the medical benefits similar to THC without experiencing the feelings of euphoria, or the “high” associated with marijuana consumption.
To date, many studies have already been done to review and confirm the therapeutic effects of CBD, especially in alleviating pain and stress when consumed. Although research on such topics remains to be limited and needs further studies, available sources positively show the compound’s promising potential in treating broad variety of illnesses, such as epilepsy, depression and anxiety, acne and other skin issues, and even neurodegenerative disorders. This has caused an instant proliferation of CBD products in the market, including CBD oil, CBD edibles, CBD topicals, and even capsules.
What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s Disease, or PD, is a type of neurodegenerative disorder that affects predominately the nerve cells in the brain called substantia nigra, which is responsible for producing dopamine. Since dopamine works as a signaling molecule, which plays a role in motor coordination, reward, and memory, the loss of dopamine neurons in the midbrain leads to the slowness of movement and resting tremor.
As the disease progresses and the brain continues to lose more and more dopamine, patients will start experiencing tremors, slowing, and stiffening of movements, which will develop over time and may even cause dementia.
Among its most common symptoms include tremors in the hands, reduced sense of coordination and balance, impaired posture, slow or rigid movements, and sleep problems. To date, scientists are not sure what exactly causes Parkinson’s disease. However, they do know that the trouble starts with the death of dopamine in the substantia nigra.
Although no one knows what triggers the death of those cells, scientists have linked low dopamine levels, low norepinephrine levels, the presence of Lewy bodies in the brain, autoimmune factors, and genetic factors as the possible causes of this disease.
Parkinson’s disease is a lifelong condition and has no available cure to date. However, varying treatment options are available to help relieve the symptoms and maintain the quality of life of patients. This includes therapies, medication, and even surgery.
CBD Oil and Parkinson’s Disease: What’s the Link?
Similar to other studies focusing on CBD’s medical potential, research on the connection of CBD oil and Parkinson’s remain to be limited and had only begun in recent decades. However, despite this, many anecdotal reports, patient surveys, and studies already suggest that CBD shows promising potential in offering relief for the debilitating symptoms of Parkinson’s.
To make it more particular, here are a few findings from recent studies done by doctors and scientists in relation to CBD oil and PD.
For years, CBD has taken the spotlight as a natural supplement for pain-management. In fact, just recently, news about the US government funding nine new research grants to study the pain-relieving effects of CBD broke out in late September. With this, it is no wonder that CBD is also now being linked to treating PD-related pain.
In fact, in one small study conducted in 2014, 22 patients with PD were evaluated before and after 30 minutes of smoking cannabis using the Unified Parkinson Disease Rating Scale, the visual analog scale, the present pain intensity scale, the Short-Form McGill Pain Questionnaire, and the Medical Cannabis Survey National Drug and Alcohol Research Center Questionnaire.
From there, researchers were able to discover that there has been a significant improvement in terms of sleep and pain scores in PD patients after consuming marijuana. No significant adverse effects of the drug were also observed in the study. However, since the research involves only 22 patients, larger, controlled studies are still needed to verify the results.
Another therapeutic benefit linked to CBD oil is its ability to ease tremors or uncontrolled muscle movements usually associated with PD.
In fact, in a study conducted in 1986, researchers from the University of Arizona Medical Center gave doses of CBD to 5 patients with dystonic movement disorders over a 6-week period.
From there, dose-related improvement in dystonia has been observed in all patients, ranging from 20% to 50%, thereby suggesting that CBD may be able to help ease muscle movements for people with Parkinson’s Disease.
As PD progresses, diagnosed patients are at risk of developing Parkinson’s disease psychosis (PDP), which is typically defined by delusions, delirium, and hallucinations. While medications are available to treat Parkinson’s psychosis, treatment options remain to be limited. With this, many people wonder whether CBD can help reduce the severity of this symptom.
In one study conducted in 2009, a group of researchers provided CBD in flexible doses (starting from 150 mg/day) to 6 outpatients diagnosed with PD and had psychosis for at least 3 months. Using the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale and the Parkinson Psychosis Questionnaire, the researchers discovered that the results of the evaluation showed a significant decrease in psychotic symptoms in patients after the treatment. No adverse effect was also observed during the study.
To date, although research concerning the therapeutic effects of CBD for persons with PD remains to be limited, available sources published in the recent years already suggest that CBD may help PD patients enjoy better life quality despite their conditions.