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13th January 2021

CBD for Parkinson's Disease: The Current Research

In this blog, we take a look at Parkinson’s disease and how CBD might affect the management of this condition.

What is Parkinson’s disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder where parts of the brain become progressively damaged over a long period.

It is caused by the loss of nerve cells in the brain which causes a reduced amount of dopamine to be produced. This is significant because dopamine is vital for regulating the movement of the body. Experts generally believe that the nerve cell loss is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, but the exact cause is unclear.

The main symptoms include involuntary shaking, slow movement and stiff and inflexible muscles. However, those with Parkinson’s can experience a whole range of additional symptoms, including depression and anxiety, memory problems, sleep issues, loss of smell and balance problems.

Some people with Parkinson’s disease - 60% as an estimate according to Parkinson’s UK - will also experience psychosis symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions.

There is an established treatment for Parkinson’s disease - Levodopa - which addresses the motor symptoms by increasing the level of dopamine in the brain. However, this medicine does not manage the other adjacent symptoms of Parkinson’s mentioned previously, and people who suffer from the condition may look for other methods of managing these.

Can you use CBD for Parkinson’s?

Initial research suggests that CBD shows some promise in the treatment and/or prevention of movement disorders. A 2018 review article outlines how cannabidiol offers neuroprotective effects which might be beneficial in relation to Parkinson’s disease, although more research needs to be done.

This review article, as well as another 2020 article, also discuss how the symptoms of Parkinson’s go beyond just the effects on motor movement. Other possible symptoms include depression, anxiety, psychosis and pain, for example, and therefore an approach to managing the disease needs to be multifaceted.

A small series of studies conducted by researchers in Brazil looked at CBD for treating particular symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease - psychotic symptoms and REM sleep behaviour disorder - as well as how it affected overall quality of life for those without psychiatric symptoms. The studies found that, although CBD did not impact on motor movements, it did reduce psychotic symptoms, reduce REM sleep behaviour disorder and have a positive effect on the quality of life for those with Parkinson’s.

Aside from the scientific research, there is also anecdotal evidence that CBD may work for Parkinson’s because a number of people use it. A 2019 survey by Parkinson’s UK revealed the following:

  • 59% of respondents hadn't used cannabis-derived products before, but would consider using them to control their symptoms.
  • 26% had used cannabis-derived products (16% are currently using them for their Parkinson's and 10% have used them in the past).
  • The most common cannabis-derived product used was CBD oil.

On the whole, those with Parkinson’s would start using or continue to use cannabis-derived products, particularly CBD oil, if substantial evidence shows that they are safe and effective in treating symptoms. 

Overall, it seems that CBD may show promise for those with Parkinson’s disease, especially when it comes to managing symptoms such as psychosis, anxiety and sleep issues.

How do you use CBD for Parkinson’s?

There are a variety of CBD formats available that you might consider for Parkinson’s. CBD oils and tinctures are some of the most popular due to them being fast-acting and easily absorbed into the bloodstream when taken sublingually (underneath the tongue).

However, since many with Parkinson’s experience tremors, this may make it difficult to accurately administer an oil in this way. In that case, you might consider a CBD capsule which contains a measured amount of CBD and is relatively easy to transport and to swallow.

We hope this article on CBD for Parkinson’s disease has been useful. As always, it is recommended that you speak to your doctor before introducing new dietary supplements like CBD, especially if you are already taking medication.

If you want to take a look at the CBD products available, you can browse our range.

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