October 03, 2022

CBD For Parkinson’s Disease: Could Cannabidiol Help?

The cannabis compound CBD has been popping up in Parkinson’s disease (PD) therapy and prevention conversations, propelled by success stories from people with Parkinson’s and emerging scientific findings.

As a non-habit-forming natural solution that doesn’t cause a high, it’s easy to see why people with PD and those at risk for it are curious about CBD.

If you’re living with or at risk for Parkinson’s disease, you may be wondering:

  • What evidence is there about CBD helping with PD symptoms?
  • Can CBD help to prevent Parkinson’s?
  • How does one go about using CBD for Parkinson’s disease?

We’re unpacking each of these questions in this article and looking to the most recent science for answers.

Why Look To CBD For Parkinson’s Treatment & Prevention?

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder. PD occurs when nerve cells in the brain are damaged, causing dopamine levels to drop.

As with most neurological disorders, there’s no cure for Parkinson’s disease. Treatment focuses on managing PD symptoms, which include:

  • Tremors
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Slow movement
  • Confusion and dementia
  • Poor balance
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Bladder control issues
  • Difficulty speaking

Every case of PD is unique. Doctors may recommend a variety of treatments including medications, surgery, and supportive therapies — like physical therapy, exercise, and dietary changes — to find the right combination of treatments to successfully manage symptoms.

CBD’s place in PD treatment would fall into the supportive therapy category, helping to reduce the need for medications and surgery and manage the side effects of medications — ultimately improving the quality of life for people with Parkinson’s disease.

On the prevention front, CBD has neuroprotective properties that may prevent the nerve cell damage that causes PD.(1) This could also be beneficial for those with Parkinson’s if those properties also prevent further damage.

With the “why” unpacked, let’s look at the most recent ream of findings from CBD and Parkinson’s studies.

The Benefits Of CBD For Parkinson’s: Science & Surveys

The legalization of hemp-derived CBD in 2018 gave scientists better access to the cannabis compound to study its therapeutic benefits for health conditions such as Parkinson’s disease (PD).

But good research takes time, so at the time this article has been published in 2022, we’re just now starting to stack up a foundation of facts about CBD for Parkinson’s disease.

Some haven’t been up for playing the waiting game, so they’ve tried CBD on their terms or joined medical trials.

Here’s what we know about CBD’s benefits for Parkinson’s from the culmination of these efforts.

CBD & Parkinson’s: Anecdotal Evidence

The actor Michael J. Fox is an outspoken advocate of CBD as an option for Parkinson’s therapy and has reported that it’s a part of his PD treatment plan.

Fox Insight is an online study conducted by the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.(2) The study gathers survey responses from people with Parkinson’s disease, asking questions about their experience with cannabis products.

Of over 1,800 respondents, more than half said they use CBD products (versus higher-THC products). Less pain and anxiety and better sleep were among the most commonly reported benefits. Some were able to reduce their use of medications.

As with any self-reported findings, these results could be influenced by the placebo effect and other variables. On that note, let’s see what the hard science has turned up.

CBD & Parkinson’s: Research

Several small studies suggest that CBD has beneficial effects for Parkinson’s, and ongoing research is working to provide more clarity.

  • Research in animals suggests that CBD could be helpful in preventing Parkinson’s disease.(1) This hypothesis hasn’t been tested in humans.
  • A 2020 study used Epidiolex, the only FDA-approved CBD drug. All 10 of the participants who completed the study saw an improvement in motor function, sleep, and mood.(3) However, three participants dropped out due to side effects. CBD also elevated liver enzymes in some participants, which is believed to be due to the high dosage they were given.
  • A clinical trial and double-blind study (the gold standard for research) conducted by the University of Colorado measuring the effects of CBD on motor symptoms in Parkinson’s disease recently concluded.(4) Once the results are published, it’s expected to provide comprehensive conclusions about CBD and PD, including CBD’s impact on the liver at specific dosages and how it might mitigate symptoms.
  • Another clinical trial is being conducted at King’s College London to see if CBD can help psychosis symptoms in people with Parkinson’s.(5) CBD is particularly of interest for psychosis symptoms because current treatments carry a risk of adverse effects.

As you can see, there’s a lot of hope for CBD’s ability to make life better for people with PD. Stay tuned for updates as the outcomes roll in.

Possible CBD Side Effects

One of the attractive things about CBD for Parkinson’s is that it carries a low risk of adverse effects. But CBD can cause drowsiness, dry mouth, diarrhea, and changes in sleep and appetite.

Drug interactions are also a risk for people taking medications, so it’s essential to let your doctor know if you’re thinking about trying CBD products along with your PD treatment plan.

Using CBD Oil For Parkinson’s Disease

Although we have a lot to learn when it comes to CBD and Parkinson’s, we know enough about how CBD works to have an educated starting point.

If you’re using medical cannabis, your healthcare provider may even have recommendations for your CBD products and regimen. No green card? No worries. The info below is for those obtaining CBD oil on their own.

The Best CBD Oil For Parkinson’s Disease

If you’ve shopped around for CBD products, you know it comes in all shapes and sizes: tincture bottles, gummies, pills, creams, and more.

  • CBD oil drops (aka tinctures) are measured using the provided dropper, then held under the tongue before swallowing. This method may be easier for those who have difficulty chewing or swallowing.
  • CBD gummies, candies, and other edibles contain a pre-measured dose of CBD, so no fiddling around with a dropper or worrying about dosage measurements.
  • CBD pills and capsules also deliver a specific dose with each pill. If you have trouble swallowing but want to use the pill form, find one that’s easy to swallow such as CBD softgels.
  • Topicals such as CBD-infused creams and lotions don’t deliver CBD to your bloodstream, but they can soothe pain and stiffness where they’re applied.
  • Vaping and smoking CBD flower is an option, but inhalants can cause coughing and be detrimental to respiratory health.

Ultimately, the best form of CBD is the one that meets your physical needs and gets you the results you’re after.

Whether you know you’re at risk for PD or not, it’s important to only use CBD products made from organically-cultivated hemp. Hemp that isn’t organic may contain high levels of industrial agricultural chemicals such as pesticides. Exposure to these chemicals may increase the risk of Parkinson’s.(6)

Recommended CBD Dosage For Parkinson’s Disease

We don’t have enough information to be able to recommend a specific dosage of CBD oil for Parkinson’s. That said, research studies use dosages of 100 to 600 mg per day.(7)

If you’re taking CBD for the first time, you wouldn’t want to go jumping into that 600 mg deep end. Start with a low dose and gradually increase to give your body a chance to acclimate.

And if you want consistent results, consistency in your dosage is also important. Daily use keeps the properties of CBD active in your body.

According To Anecdotes & Analyses: Does CBD Work For Parkinson’s?

With science exploring CBD’s potential to help people with Parkinson’s, we’re on the brink of having a clear understanding of how the cannabinoid best fits in a PD therapy toolkit.

Meanwhile, those living with PD are already exploring the benefits of CBD for Parkinson’s tremors, pain management, sleep support, anxiety reduction, and more.

Since measuring the efficacy of Parkinson’s prevention methods is difficult, we likely won’t have a final word on that for some time, if we ever do. But with CBD being easily available, it’s accessible to those aiming to be proactive about PD prevention.

Thinking about using CBD to manage or prevent Parkinson’s? Find the right form of CBD for your needs, and make sure it’s derived from hemp that was organically grown.

[INSERT SHOP CBD MADE WITH ORGANIC HEMP BUTTON?]

References

  1. Peres, FF, et al. (2018). Cannabidiol as a Promising Strategy to Treat and Prevent Movement Disorders?. Frontiers in pharmacology. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2018.00482
  2. (2021). Fox Insight Survey Sheds Light on Cannabis Use and Parkinson's. Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. https://www.michaeljfox.org/news/fox-insight-survey-sheds-light-cannabis-use-and-parkinsons
  3. Leehey, MA, et al. (2020). Safety and Tolerability of Cannabidiol in Parkinson Disease: An Open Label, Dose-Escalation Study. Cannabis and cannabinoid research. https://doi.org/10.1089/can.2019.0068
  4. University of Colorado, Denver. (2022). A Study of Tolerability and Efficacy of Cannabidiol on Motor Symptoms in Parkinson's Disease. U.S. National Library of Medicine.  https://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03582137
  5. (2022). Can cannabidiol (CBD) treat Parkinson’s symptoms? Parkinson’s UK. https://www.parkinsons.org.uk/get-involved/can-cannabidiol-cbd-treat-parkinsons-symptoms
  6. (2022). The Relationship Between Pesticides and Parkinson’s. American Parkinson Disease Association. https://www.apdaparkinson.org/article/the-relationship-between-pesticides-and-parkinsons
  7. Millar, SA, et al. (2019). A systematic review of cannabidiol dosing in clinical populations. British journal of clinical pharmacology. https://doi.org/10.1111/bcp.14038


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