Introduction to Using CBD Oil for Parkinson’s Disease

Cannabis plants contain many compounds. The two most abundant compounds are cannabinoids known as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabidioal (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is a psychoactive cannabinoid and causes euphoric effects, also known as a “high” sensation. CBD, on the other hand, does not have these euphoric effects. CBD is also the compound that is most often used for its therapeutic benefit for a variety of reasons. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) CBD has, thus far, not exhibited any indication of abuse or dependence potential. CBD is also generally well tolerated with minimal side effects. The WHO also states that, to date, there is no evidence of any public-related safety-issues associated with the use of cannabidiol.

Studies are underway to help explain the science and provide support for how CBD interacts with the body. Broadly, it is understood that CBD works primarily in conjunction with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which helps regulate physiological processes such as hormones, inflammation, stress, pain and more. This system is primarily located in the brain and immune system. As humans, our bodies also naturally produce cannabinoids that are referred to as endocannabinoids (as opposed to the cannabinoids produced with plants that are referred to as phytocannabinoids). These endocannabinoids also interact with our ECS system. Since these endocannabinoids interact with the brain, it is hypothesized that CBD, as an additional cannabinoid affecting the ECS system, can play a role in managing symptoms associated with neurologic diseases such as Parkinson’s disease.  

Treating Parkinson’s Disease With CBD Oil

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects neurons in a specific area of the brain called substantia nigra. Due to the deterioration of this part of the brain, muscular movements are negatively impacted. The hallmark symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include tremors, muscle rigidity or stiffness and postural instability. Most often, Parkinson’s disease is accompanied by involuntary muscle movements and inability to control these movements. As the disease progresses, people with Parkinson’s disease may also have mental and behavioral changes, sleep problems, depression, memory difficulties, and fatigue. Recent studies have indicated that there is a positive correlation between CBD and the management of symptoms brought about by Parkinson’s disease.

A recent open-label observational study looked at patients who have established Parkinson’s disease, and determined that there was a correlation between smoking cannabis and witnessing reductions in pain, tremors, rigidity and bradykinesia.1 Another open-label study that looked at CBD products demonstrated that CBD in addition to the usual therapy, reduced the psychosis symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.2 This study also showed that there were no significant adverse effects associated with CBD throughout the course of the study. Additionally, a case series cited that patients with Parkinson’s disease who were treated with CBD had prompt and substantial reduction in the frequency of REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) related events.3 Lastly, a double-blind trial on effects of CBD in patients who have Parkinson’s disease but don’t suffer from dementia, found that daily CBD use significantly improved the scores of well-being and quality of life for the patients.4 Conclusively, this data suggests that there are correlating benefits between CBD use and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease such as tremors, pain, bradykinesia and overall quality of life. 

How to Use CBD Oil for Parkinson’s Disease

At this time, there is no universal or official FDA recommendation on the appropriate dosage of CBD that one should take to see improvements with symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Everything should be considered on a case by case basis. The amount of CBD one takes depends on many variables including body weight, body chemistry, the condition that is being treated, and the concentration of CBD in the product that is being used. It is important to follow the label instructions by the manufacturer to determine exactly how many drops to take. Most often, individuals start with a small dose and gradually increase the dose until they have achieved desired results. Doses are typically taken anywhere from 4 to 6 hours apart, however, you may consult with your doctor to ensure that this is appropriate for your needs. The studies mentioned above utilized a daily dose of 300 mg of CBD. However, as mentioned, it is recommended to start with a low dose and gradually increase until the desired result is achieved.

Although CBD is considered safe and generally well tolerated, it may cause adverse reactions in some individuals. Side effects that have been reported with the use of CBD include fatigue, diarrhea, changes in appetite and weight, jitteriness, and drowsiness. In addition, CBD can negatively interact with some medications. Before starting the use of CBD, it is important to discuss this with your doctor to ensure your safety.

Conclusion

CBD oil has gained much interest as a safe and natural remedy that seems to interact well with the body’s endocannabinoid system while providing relief for various ailments. It has become an appealing option for patients of Parkinson’s disease who are looking for options that don’t involve the use of drugs or involve the mind-altering effects of THC. Several studies have demonstrated that CBD oil positively impacted various symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. These studies, however, were conducted in small groups and as such, additional research is required to further validate these findings.

If you are thinking of using CBD, it is important to know that CBD products are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Always use caution and research the various CBD oil products to see which one is right for you. Also, remember to consult your doctor before starting the use of any CBD products.

 

References:

  1. Lotan, Itay et al. “Cannabis (medical marijuana) treatment for motor and non-motor symptoms of Parkinson disease: an open-label observational study.” Clinical neuropharmacology 37,2 (2014): 41-4. March 2014. Accessed Oct. 6, 2020.
  2. Zuardi, A W et al. “Cannabidiol for the treatment of psychosis in Parkinson’s disease.” Journal of psychopharmacology (Oxford, England) 23,8 (2009): 979-83. 18 Sept. 2008. Accessed Oct. 6, 2020.
  3. Chagas, M H N et al. “Cannabidiol can improve complex sleep-related behaviours associated with rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder in Parkinson’s disease patients: a case series.” Journal of clinical pharmacy and therapeutics 39,5 (2014): 564-6. 21 May 2014. Accessed Oct. 6, 2020.
  4. Chagas, Marcos Hortes N et al. “Effects of cannabidiol in the treatment of patients with Parkinson’s disease: an exploratory double-blind trial.” Journal of psychopharmacology (Oxford, England) 28,11 (2014): 1088-98. 18 Sept. 2014. Accessed Oct. 6, 2020.