Published on: 04/13/17
Does CBD for Parkinson’s really help? Many of us have seen the incredible videos of Parkinson's patients before and after taking cannabis products. The moment in which their tremors go from debilitating to essentially non-existent. It seems like a miracle!
However, when it comes to CBD for Parkinson's there is still much to be discovered.
Scientists are still on the hunt for cannabis compounds that hold the key to slowing this disease while managing its symptoms. And right now, CBD for Parkinson's is at the front of the pack. Why? In this article we will uncover:
- Why CBD for Parkinson's is gaining scientific traction
- How Parkinson's, CBD and the endocannabinoid system are connected
- The results of CBD for Parkinson's in clinical trials
Footage courtesy of Ride with Larry
What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease is classed as a neurodegenerative disease of the central nervous system. It affects roughly 6 million people worldwide and is characterized by its rhythmic, jerky movements of the hands, legs, neck, and face.
Genetic predisposition, exposure to pesticides and serious head injuries are all said to be possible causes, however, this is yet to be medically confirmed.
The disease causes a decrease in dopamine production, which causes symptoms such as:
- Slowness of movement
Currently, Parkinson's disease is incurable, and treatment options rely heavily on medicines that target dopamine depletion. However, as more neuronal damage occurs, the drug becomes ineffective and can actually worsen symptoms.
Therefore, finding alternative treatments is integral to improving Parkinson's patients’ quality of life.
Patients Turn to Cannabis
While cannabis might seem like a medical wildcard, it has been said to have been used to aid in the symptoms of Parkinson's disease as far back as the 19th Century,
Back then, very little was known about the chemical compounds in the cannabis plant.
It has really only been in the last twenty years that scientists have begun to understand how cannabis affects the body. This is in most part due to the discovery of the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
The ECS has been seen to have neuroprotective actions, making cannabinoid medicine a promising therapeutic route.
The Endocannabinoid System and Parkinson’s Disease
The Endocannabinoid System is in control of a myriad of physiological functions and maintains balance in the body. The ECS is comprised of a network of cells and their receptors called CB1 and CB2 receptors.
What’s more, the part of the brain affected by Parkinson's disease has an abundance of CB1 receptors and cell activity.
This heightened activity of CB1 receptors is what has prompted scientist to start researching cannabinoids in the treatment of Parkinson's disease.
Cannabinoids as Neuroprotectants
While current medications for Parkinson's address dopamine depletion, current cannabinoid research focuses on cannabis’ neuroprotective, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
While THC has been found to actually worsen motor symptoms associated with Parkinson's disease, other cannabinoids such as CBD and THCV have been of real interest.
How much do we know about CBD for Parkinson’s?
CBD is generally a tricky cannabinoid to understand as it has poor binding affinity with our endocannabinoid receptors. But it holds great promise as a treatment for Parkinson's due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
CBD has been seen to scavenge free radicals that cause oxidative stress, commonly believed to be a precursor to Parkinson’s. Unlike other cannabinoids though, CBD does this independently of any endocannabinoid signaling.
CBD isn’t the only Cannabinoid!
Reducing inflammation is fundamental in the fight to slow down the progression of Parkinson's disease. For this reason, scientists have turned their attention to the lesser known cannabinoid, THCV.
THCV has the unique ability to activate the CB2 receptors, which suppresses inflammation. And like CBD, THCV is a powerful antioxidant as well.
A study carried out at the Complutense University in Madrid found that administering THCV to animal models with Parkinson's lessened:
- Motor inhibition
- Reduced brain cell damage from toxins
- Protected certain neurons
Researchers found that “THCV has a promising pharmacological profile for delaying disease progression in PD and also for ameliorating parkinsonian symptoms.”
So far, no clinical studies using THCV for Parkinson's have been carried out. However, many researchers say that THCV used alone or with CBD, could be a valuable therapy in the future. These trials really couldn’t come sooner.
While preclinical studies on animal models show promise, so far they have failed to convince the medical community. This is due to a lack of credible research, which has been mostly observational.
In saying that, current studies have been quite positive. One survey carried out by the international Parkinson’s and Movements Disorder Society stated:
Of the 25% of Parkinson's patients who used cannabis, 46% reported some benefits to their condition.
Another smaller non-placebo study by Tel Aviv University found that 30 minutes after smoking cannabis, improvements were found in:
- Bradykinesia (slowness of movement)
Clinical Trials of CBD for Parkinson’s
Until recently, there were very few human studies into CBD for Parkinson's. And of the studies done, many fail to be of a high enough standard for the medical community.
In fact, the most complete clinical study looking at CBD oil for Parkinson's is yet to be done.
This study by Maureen Leehey MD from the University of Colorado School of Medicine will use GW Pharma CBD extract Epidiolex. This will test CBD for Parkinson's safety and tolerability.
A second stage crossover, double-blind, randomized controlled trial (RCT) should follow, testing whether CBD for Parkinson's not only helps tremors but also:
- Daytime sleepiness
- Restless legs syndrome
- REM sleep behavior disorder.
Which CBD Oil Is Best For Parkinson’s?
Unfortunately, due to FDA regulations, we cannot give out advice on CBD for Parkinson’s, however, we can help guide you towards the best quality CBD oil you can get.
When looking for CBD products, only purchase CBD oils that:
- Are extracted from organic hemp,
- Use state-of-the-art supercritical CO2 extraction methods
- Are from companies that provide 3rd party lab reports
This ensures that the CBD oil you buy is:
- Cannabinoid rich
- Terpene rich
- Heavy metal free
While it’s still early days in the field of researching CBD oil for Parkinson’s, early results look promising. And as more clinical trials take place, perhaps science will catch up with what many patients have already experienced firsthand.
Disclaimer: Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Endoca and its staff. This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or cure. Endoca CBD products have not been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).