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:
We’re unpacking each of these questions in this article and looking to the most recent science for answers.
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:
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 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.
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.
Several small studies suggest that CBD has beneficial effects for Parkinson’s, and ongoing research is working to provide more clarity.
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.
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.
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.
If you’ve shopped around for CBD products, you know it comes in all shapes and sizes: tincture bottles, gummies, pills, creams, and more.
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)
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.
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.
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