Last Updated on May 31, 2022 by Maxwell Harris
Cannabidiol (CBD) is extracted from the hemp plant (Cannabis sativa) and has medicinal anticonvulsant, anti-nausea, anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety effects. It can also have antipsychotic effects, such effects are currently being intensively researched. Parkinson’s patients may benefit as CBD administration can help alleviate their symptoms.
Popularity of cannabis and CBD
In the last decade, cannabis has become increasingly popular and eventually released for medical purposes in some states. There are good reasons for this, the medical effects are undisputed. Yet cannabis for health applications is strictly controlled in most states and therefore has very low levels of THC (which is responsible for intoxication and addiction). Consistent use and medical trials have shown that the use of cannabis or just CBD has nowhere near the side effects of many conventional medications.
Of course, some people also consume it purely for relaxation, which is also nothing to object to, for example, in case of sleep problems. Possession of small amounts is allowed in some states. An international debate is raging about the complete release of cannabis, which is considered by addiction experts to be nowhere near as dangerous as alcohol. Proponents of a release point to the large number of medical applications for which intensive research has been conducted for about 20 years.
The cannabidiol (CBD) contained probably has a much broader potential in terms of its medical effects than we currently know. One of the medically indicated applications of cannabis is the treatment of symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
About Parkinson’s disease
Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative and progressive disorder of the CNS (central nervous system). The greatest impairments occur with respect to motor activity; tremors, for example, are typical in people who suffer from it. The disease progresses more and more, first symptoms appear after the diagnosis only in a very small extent. They then gradually increase show up on motor and non-motor levels. Among others, the following should be mentioned:
- disturbance of the sense of smell (already very early)
- mild irritability and mild depression (relatively early)
- disturbance of REM sleep
- very strong restlessness during sleep
- muscle tremor
- irregular steps
- slower movements
- muscle rigidity
- often bent posture
The disease is idiopathic, so the exact cause is unknown. Genetic factors and also environmental influences or a lifelong, increased stress load are assumed to be triggering factors. The most probable cause is a combination of several such factors. The genetic causes are disputed, and some researchers deny them. However, it has been proven that in 15% of all Parkinson’s patients there is a first-degree relative who also has the disease. Purely biological-chemical environmental influences that favor the disease could be the country life and thereby the contact with pesticides as well as head injuries (typical for example in boxers).
Parkinson’s disease and CBD
CBD does not cure Parkinson’s disease, but it can significantly alleviate symptoms. There are studies on this from Brazil, for example, where a team of researchers administered daily CBD doses to Parkinson’s patients and found that the patients’ well-being improved considerably. The increased quality of life, not only of the sufferers but also of their relatives, is worth trying, according to South American doctors.
In a highly publicized trial, 21 patients had taken CBD in gelatin capsules for six weeks, with three groups: the first received 300 mg per day, the second 75 mg, and the third a placebo. The greatest improvement was clearly seen with the highest dose, while the placebo patients experienced no improvement at all. Of course, the treatment only had an effect on the symptoms, but these are so severe, especially in Parkinson’s disease, that this trial must be considered a great success.
It is also possible – research into this is still ongoing – that the progression of the disease could be slowed down.