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What to Know About Marijuana and Parkinson’s Disease as CAM Therapy

Sarah Jividen, RN, BSN, is a freelance healthcare journalist and content marketing writer at Health Writing Solutions, LLC. She has over a decade of direct patient care experience working as a registered nurse specializing in neurotrauma, stroke, and the emergency room.

Verywell Health articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and healthcare professionals. These medical reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.

Nicholas R. Metrus, MD, is a board-certified neurologist and neuro-oncologist. He currently serves at the Glasser Brain Tumor Center in Summit, New Jersey.

People with Parkinson’s disease are becoming more interested in learning how medical marijuana and cannabidiol (CBD) can relieve symptoms associated with the disease. Medical marijuana is a type of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) that has not traditionally been used in the medical community.

But in recent years, more states have authorized the use of marijuana for both recreational and medicinal use. As a result, Parkinson’s patients are asking their physicians if medical cannabis is an effective treatment for their disease.

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease with no cure, but some studies have shown that medical marijuana helps relieve symptoms. Learn more about the benefits and considerations that come with using marijuana as a therapy for Parkinson’s disease.

What Is Medical Marijuana?

Medical marijuana is cannabis that’s prescribed by a physician to treat or provide relief for a medical condition.

There are around 400 chemicals in the cannabis plant, and more than 60 of them are referred to as “cannabinoids.” The “high” marijuana users get is primarily due to the most psychoactive cannabinoid in the plant called tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.

Cannabinol, or CBD, is the other cannabinoid, which is used in medical marijuana. CBD does not cause a “high” when taken alone and, in fact, moderates the psychoactive effects. Research is being done to determine how medical marijuana can help treat or relieve symptoms of various diseases, including Parkinson’s disease.

How Does Medical Marijuana Affect the Body?

Marijuana affects the body through neurotransmitters, which are the chemical messengers of the nervous system.

Various factors can stimulate neurotransmitter activity, initiating a set of physiological responses. In cannabis, it is mainly THC or CBD binding to endocannabinoid receptors that produce new physiological reactions in the body.

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is one of the most important neurotransmitter systems in the body. It utilizes cannabinoid receptors located throughout the central nervous system (CNS) and peripheral nervous system (PNS). Cannabis works to “turn on” endocannabinoid neurotransmitters through activity at these receptors.

The Endocannabinoid System

The endocannabinoid system is not fully understood. However, experts know that it helps to regulate various body functions such as mood, sleep, memory, appetite, and fertility. While everyone has an ECS, medical cannabis’s direct interactions with it may affect individuals differently.

There are two types of cannabinoids involved in cannabis use:

  • Endocannabinoids are chemical messengers that affect the cannabinoid receptors in humans and animals. “Endo” means produced in the body system.
  • Phytocannabinoids are chemical messengers found in cannabis and hemp plants. “Phyto” refers to plants.

Cannabis and hemp are legally classified based on THC content. Hemp is a plant that contains 0.3% or less THC. Cannabis plants contain more than 0.3% THC.

How THC and CBD Work

Cannabinoids from cannabis activate the ECS by binding to endocannabinoid receptors throughout the brain and body. The two most affected by cannabis are:

  • CB1 receptors: Found in the brain in high levels, they are responsible for marijuana’s psychoactive properties, or the “high” effect.
  • CB2 receptors: Found throughout the body, they affect pain levels and inflammation.

THC strongly activates CB1 receptors, triggering a feeling of euphoria. This activation also increases blood flow to the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is the area that controls the ability to focus, as well as our motor skills, attention, memory, and decision-making abilities.

THC also interacts with CB2 receptors, providing added analgesic (pain relieving), muscle relaxing, and antiemetic effects (helping with nausea and vomiting).

CBD activates both CB1 and CB2 receptors, although less strongly than THC. Although its CB1 and CB2 receptor activation does not produce a “high,” it has been shown to interact with additional receptors in the body and have calming and anti-inflammatory effects. For this reason, CBD has been used to treat pain, anxiety, and seizures.

Medical Marijuana as a Treatment for Parkinson’s Symptoms

Parkinson’s disease is a disorder of the central nervous system that causes tremors, slow movement, stiffness, and loss of balance. Because marijuana directly affects the central and peripheral nervous systems, scientists have studied the effect of marijuana as a treatment for Parkinson’s symptoms.

A 2020 review of 14 different studies acknowledged evidence that medical marijuana provides a reduction in anxiety, tremors, and involuntary or erratic movements. However, the researchers concluded that there is insufficient evidence to recommend medical marijuana use as part of Parkinson’s treatment.

A 2017 study with patients who used medical marijuana over three months to manage Parkinson’s symptoms found that the treatment improved their symptoms and did not cause major adverse effects.

Other research has shown that medical marijuana may be able to help with some Parkinson’s disease symptoms, including:

    (decreased movement ability)
  • Sleep problems
  • Pain

Cannabis use for patients with Parkinson’s has also been shown to help improve mood, memory, and fatigue.

Talk to Your Physician

The use of medical marijuana remains controversial, and there is no official guidance on its use at present. Though there are studies suggesting potential benefits of medical marijuana for Parkinson’s disease, patients should discuss their treatment options with their physicians and whether medical marijuana is appropriate for them.

Possible Benefits

Medical marijuana use can provide additional benefits for patients with Parkinson’s, including symptom relief for:

  • Anxiety
  • Pain
  • Poor sleep
  • Nausea

Possible Side Effects

As with any medication, there are potential side effects of medical marijuana. Negative effects of medical marijuana use for Parkinson’s can include:

  • Cognitive impairment, such as issues with attention, focus, and memory
  • Increased appetite and weight gain
  • Depression
  • Lung damage (if smoking)
  • Increased heart rate
  • Dependence or potential withdrawal symptoms

Drug Interactions

There may also be potential negative interactions that medical marijuana may have with other medications. Check with your physician before taking a medical marijuana product.

How to Use Cannabis for Parkinson’s

There are many ways to use medical marijuana. If you are considering using medical marijuana to treat Parkinson’s symptoms, speak with your physician about the best products and applications for your specific case.

Forms of medical marijuana include:

  • Tinctures
  • Capsules
  • Lozenges
  • Dermal patches
  • Dermal sprays
  • Edibles
  • Vaporizing
  • Smoking

Dosage

There is no universal marijuana or CBD dosage. Studies are being done to determine how patients respond to the effects of marijuana differently. Longer clinical trials with more patient involvement are needed to establish dosage parameters, so speak to your physician about the right dosing options for you.

Legality

Medical marijuana is legal in 36 states and four territories as of May 2021. There are some restrictions regarding THC content in many states.

Recreational marijuana is legal in 18 states, two territories, and the District of Columbia as of July 2021.

Although CBD does not produce a psychedelic effect, it is not legal in all 50 states, even if it’s sourced from hemp containing less than 0.3% THC. The reason is that each state has its own Controlled Substances Act (CSA) that considers CBD to be marijuana in some states.

Considerations Before Buying Marijuana Products

Marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug, meaning that it is a drug with a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use. For that reason, it is still illegal to use in much of the country.

If you are considering using marijuana for medical purposes, there are a few things you need to consider, such as:

  • THC and CBD content levels
  • Published and accessible Certificates of Analysis (CoA), which certify the test results of the product from the manufacturer
  • Organic vs. not
  • Where it’s sourced
  • Methods of consumption

A Word From Verywell

Living with Parkinson’s disease can be challenging and stressful. While there are treatments available to help you manage your symptoms, you may want to discuss the possibility of medical marijuana as part of your treatment plan. Before taking any medication for symptom management, discuss your options with your physician, and whether medical marijuana is appropriate for your disease case.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Every state has its own rules and regulations for getting a medical marijuana card. If you live in areas where medical marijuana is legal, you may want to consider the following options:

  • Talk to your primary care physician
  • Find a certified medical marijuana professional in your state
  • Register with your state department if required in your state

Some studies show that CBD can help with tremors and other Parkinson’s disease symptoms. However, more studies are needed. Speak with your physician if you are considering medical cannabis for tremor relief.

Many companies produce CBD oil, and there are no studies available that favor one brand over another. If you are taking CBD oil, it is essential that you follow your physician’s prescription. CBD oil is most commonly taken as a sublingual drop (under the tongue). CBD oil is an alternative for patients who don’t like taking medication in a pill form.

The THC in medical marijuana stimulates neurons that signal the release of dopamine neurotransmitters at higher levels than usual.

What Dosage of CBD Should You Take?

Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology.

Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.

John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE is board-certified in addiction medicine and preventative medicine. He is the medical director at Alcohol Recovery Medicine. For over 20 years Dr. Umhau was a senior clinical investigator at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Verywell / Madelyn Goodnight

CBD is available in a number of different formulations including creams, tablets, oils, and gummies. These can vary in terms of their ingredients as well as dosages, and there is not a great deal of research available on what dose might be beneficial or safe to treat certain conditions.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is the second most abundant cannabinoid found in marijuana. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD does not have psychoactive effects. Interest in the use of CBD for health purposes has grown tremendously in the last few years.

CBD is believed to have a range of positive physical and mental health effects. Because of this, it has become increasingly popular as a way to alleviate everything from anxiety to sleep disorders.

In order to determine if CBD is right for you, it is important to consider its potential benefits, side effects, and available research on safe dosages.

Possible Benefits

CBD is just one of hundreds of different compounds found in the cannabis plant. While cannabis has been used in holistic medicine for many years, only recently have researchers begun to explore some of the medicinal purposes for CBD and other cannabinoids.

While further research is still needed, there is some evidence that CBD may have some beneficial mental health effects. These include:

  • Alleviating depression: Some research also indicates that CBD may be useful as a treatment for depression. Studies suggest that the cannabinoid might have an influence on how the brain responds to serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in mood. People with depression sometimes have a low level of serotonin, so CBD may help the brain use available serotonin more effectively.
  • Improving sleep: While the reasons are not entirely understood and require further research, CBD also appears to have potential as a treatment for sleep problems. For example, one study found that people who took CBD also reported improvements in the quality of their sleep.
  • Reducing anxiety: Anxiety is one of the most common types of mental health conditions, affecting almost 20% of American adults each year. Research suggests that CBD may help alleviate acute symptoms of a number of anxiety-related conditions including generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and social anxiety disorder.

In addition to the mental health benefits, CBD may also have therapeutic benefits for a range of other conditions. The World Health Organization suggests that CBD may have beneficial effects in the treatment of:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Arthritis
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Infection
  • Inflammation
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Nausea
  • Pain
  • Psychosis

It is important to remember that these benefits have not yet been conclusively proven. More research is needed to determine the role that CBD might play in the treatment of different disorders and health conditions.

Research

There have been a number of studies that suggest that CBD may have a number of different physical and mental health uses. However, more research is still needed to better understand the substance’s potential applications and possible long-term side effects.

A 2019 comprehensive review published in The Lancet Psychiatry looked at previously published studies. The review ultimately concluded that there was little evidence to support the use of CBD for mental health purposes and suggested that more research is needed in order to substantiate its use to treat symptoms of conditions such as anxiety, depression, and insomnia.

It is important to remember that this doesn’t mean that CBD isn’t effective. Many of the studies that were included in the review were small, had few participants, and were not randomized controlled trials.

This suggests that more research involving more participants and well-designed studies is needed in order to better understand if, how, and why CBD works.

While its effectiveness is still up for debate, one 2017 review found that it was a relatively safe option.   While it is important to remember that there is still a great deal we don’t yet know about CBD and its effects, it is something that you might opt to try to see if you experience any benefits.

How Much Should You Take?

The dosages used in research studies vary and there is no consensus on how much should be used for specific conditions. If you do decide to try CBD, it is also important to note that there is no universally agreed upon dose. Research also suggests that people may respond differently to various dosages, so the amount that is right for your needs might vary.

CBD Dosages

Some dosages that have been used in research studies for different conditions include:

  • Anxiety: 300 to 600 mg
  • Bowel disease: 10 mg per day
  • Cancer-related pain: 50 to 600 mg per day
  • Parkinson’s disease: 75 to 300 mg per day
  • Poor sleep: 25 mg per day
  • Psychosis: 600 mg per day

One 2020 review of studies found that participants showed improvements in anxiety levels after single doses of CBD ranging from 300 to 600 mg.   Such results indicate that the CBD may hold promise as a treatment to alleviate symptoms of acute anxiety.

It is important to remember that you should always talk to your doctor before using CBD if you have symptoms of a serious mental or physical health condition. CBD could potentially worsen symptoms or interact with other medications you are taking.

Looking at the dosage information for the CBD product that has been FDA approved can also be helpful. For Epidiolex, an FDA-approved cannabis-derived medication used to treat seizures in people with certain types of epilepsy, the starting dosage is 5 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. This dose can later be increased to 5 mg per kilogram of body weight twice a day.

Other CBD products are not FDA regulated and do not have officially recommended dosages. This can make it difficult to determine how much you might need, but there are some things you can consider that might help.

  • Assess your sensitivity to CBD: Your individual ability to tolerate CBD can also play a role in determining how much you need. If you are very sensitive to the effects of CBD, you should take a small dose. Some people may find that they are not as affected by the substance, so they may need to take a larger dose to notice any beneficial effects.
  • Consider individual factors: When you are trying to decide how much CBD to take, there are a number of factors you should consider. These include the formulation and concentration of the capsule, oil drops, or gummies you are taking, the symptoms you are treating, and your age, sex, weight, and overall health. Generally, people with heavier bodies need to take a little more to achieve the same effects. Men may need a larger dose, while older people may need less.
  • Consider the symptoms you’re treating: The symptoms you are trying to alleviate can also play a role in the CBD dosage you need to take to see results. In one study, participants who took 25mg of CBD each day had improved sleep quality, although the results were not consistent.   However, you might find that you need a lower or higher dose if you are treating another type of condition.
  • Try a dosage calculator: Researchers note that while the variety of dosing strategies and formulations make it difficult to determine efficacy, there are a number of online “dose-calculators” available online (such as mydosage.com) that are designed to help people choose the correct dose.   The accuracy of such calculators is difficult to assess, but it may be a good place to start.
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Before you try CBD, discuss your plan with your doctor. They may be able to recommend a dose and help you better understand any potential risks, complications, side effects, or interactions you might experience.

Start With a Low Dose

Unless your doctor recommends a specific dose, start by taking 10 to 20 mg a day. Take this for a week to ensure that it is well-tolerated and that you don’t experience any unwanted effects or an allergic reaction.

If this dose does not have the desired effect, try increasing in increments of 5mg each week until the desired amount is reached.

In studies, amounts vary from as low as 20 milligrams per day to up to 1,500 milligrams (mg) per day. The World Health Organization reports that dosages in clinical research studies typically range between 100 and 800 milligrams per day.  

Is It Possible to Take Too Much?

So what is the maximum amount of CBD you should take? Researchers have found that 600 mg per day appears to be safe, but one study suggested that doses of up to 1,500 mg a day are safe and tolerated well.

However, it’s important to remember that research is still in its infancy and experts do not yet fully understand the potential long-term impacts of CBD usage. For that reason, you should always discuss your CBD use with your doctor.

Starting at a lower dose and working your way up to the amount you need may be the best ways to avoid taking too much.

How to Take CBD

The amount of CBD found in a product may depend on different factors, including the formulation and method of administration. CBD products are available in a number of different forms including oils, capsules, tablets, nasal sprays, and gummies.

One of the most popular ways to take CBD is as an oil. Such products are made by combining CBD with some type of carrier oil, such as coconut oil. Some more recently developed products include dietary supplements, foods, beverages, lotions, salves, and cosmetics.

The type of CBD product you choose may depend on what you are trying to treat. If you are looking for general mood improvements, a dietary supplement might be a good option.

If you are targeting specific symptoms of a condition, taking an oil, capsule, or gummy might be a better way to obtain a higher, more concentrated dose.

Topical applications may produce localized effects, but they are unlike to have any mental health benefits.

What Kind Should You Take?

It’s also important to remember that many products don’t contain just CBD on its own. There are three types of CBD available:

  • Isolate contains CBD and only CBD.
  • Broad-spectrum contains CBD and other cannabinoids, but not THC.
  • Full-spectrum contains CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids.

It may be helpful to take a broad-spectrum product since research suggests that CBD’s effects may be most beneficial when taken in conjunction with other cannabinoids, a phenomenon known as the entourage effect. CBD may also help mitigate some of the effects of THC.

Side Effects

While CBD is generally well-tolerated, this does not mean that you won’t experience any side effects.

Some of the most common side effects that people experience when taking CBD include:

  • Appetite changes
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Stomach upset
  • Weight changes

Some recent research has generated concerns over the safety and potential long term effects of CBD. One study involved giving mice an equivalent of the maximum dose of the CBD medication Epidiolex, which is used to treat certain forms of epilepsy. The results indicated an increased risk for liver damage as well as concerns over its interaction with other medications.  

Safety

It is also important to remember that CBD products are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Some manufacturers make unproven claims about the uses and efficacy of their products. There is also concern about the quality and safety of the products themselves.

One report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicated that a number of people experienced negative unwanted side effects due to CBD products that contained synthetic CBD, although the products were not labeled as containing such ingredients.

Mislabeling appears to be a fairly common problem with CBD products. In one study, 70% of the CBD products that were sold online contained significantly more of the psychoactive ingredient THC than the label indicated.

Federal law prohibits the sale of products that contain more than 0.3% THC. States laws also vary, so you should always check with your state before buying CBD products online.

A Word From Verywell

If you do decide to take CBD to alleviate an acute or chronic condition, remember that the amount that you take will depend on a variety of factors. Finding the right dosage often takes some experimentation and adjustments. Starting with a low dose and then gradually increasing the amount you take until you achieve the desired effects is the best approach.

CBD for Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that progressively causes neurons to die. One function of neurons is to create a neurotransmitter called dopamine, a chemical messenger responsible for sending messages between neural cells in the brain. Parkinson’s disease primarily affects dopamine-producing neurons in an area of the brain called the substantia nigra, causing critically low levels of dopamine that negatively affect motor function.

The result of this is a gradual loss of motor control, with symptoms starting gradually, usually with a noticeable tremor in just one hand. However, people with Parkinson’s disease also often exhibit emotional and behavioral changes, including sleeping problems and depression. Taken together, this makes Parkinson’s a debilitating disease that affects the patient, but also those around them.

The cause of Parkinson’s disease is still unknown and there is no cure for it.

Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease

People with Parkinson’s typically start experiencing symptoms in the later stages of the disease, after a significant number of neurons have been damaged or lost. Symptoms develop slowly over multiple years, and they differ from person to person. Because symptoms often differ from one person to the next, not all symptoms listed below are necessary for a Parkinson’s diagnosis. Younger people in particular may only exhibit one or two of these symptoms, especially in the earlier stages of the disease.

While a variety of other symptoms may occur, the primary motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include:

Tremors that tend to occur at rest, is usually slow and rhythmic, occurring first in the hand, foot, leg, jaw, chin, mouth, or tongue—and eventually spreading across the body

A sensation of internal tremors, which are not necessarily visible to others.

Rigidity including tightness or stiffness of the limbs or torso

Bradykinesia, or “slow movement,” a reduced or mask-like expression of the face, blinking less frequently

Difficulties with fine motor coordination

Postural instability including an inability to maintain a steady, upright posture, or to prevent a fall, that becomes more pronounced in the later stages of the disease, this symptom causes

Walking or gait difficulties that may begin as a small change in the way the arm swings while walking and evolving into a slow, small, shuffling gait, rapid small steps, or freezing episodes in which the feet appear to be glued to the floor

While they are less noticeable—and often overlooked because of the disease being a movement disorder—there are also many associated non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s. Disturbances in the sense of smell, eye and vision issues, sleep problems, depression, anxiety, pain, psychosis, fatigue, cognitive changes, weight loss, lightheadedness, sweating, melanoma, personality changes, and gastrointestinal, urinary, and sexual issues can all occur in patients of Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s Disease Medications & Treatment

There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease. Because symptoms don’t exhibit themselves until the later stages of the disease, early diagnosis is difficult—but scientists continue to search for ways to identify the early onset of Parkinson’s. While no treatment options currently available can slow or halt the progress of Parkinson’s disease, there are treatments available to improve its symptoms.

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Pharmaceutical Interventions
Almost all Parkinson’s patients will eventually require medication to treat their motor symptoms. Several classes of medications are available, and often patients will be prescribed various strengths, formulations, and combinations of medications to improve their symptoms. These include:

Levodopa works by being converted to dopamine in the brain. Side-effects include nausea, usually requiring it to be taken with carbidopa. If symptoms return between doses (OFF periods) an infison of levodopa that is administered through a tube called duopa, a powder form of levodopa which can be inhaled, or the new medication istradefylline (Nourianz) may be prescribed. Levodopa treatments are often delayed as long as possible as its effects wear off over time and it eventually stops working, causing the patient to develop movement problems called “motor fluctuations”.

Safinamide (Xadago) is prescribed when patients taking levodopa and carbidopa have a breakthrough of Parkinson’s symptoms that were previously under control. Side effects include trouble falling or staying asleep, nausea, falls, and uncontrolled, involuntary movements.

Dopamine agonists that imitate the action of dopamine in the brain to treat the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Examples include pramipexole, rot ropinirole and igotine that can be taken on their own or with levodopa. Side effects can include nausea, orthostatichypotension, hallucinations, somnolence, and impulse control disorders.

Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions
The most common non-pharmaceutical interventions include lifestyle changes that can help slow disease progression and make symptoms more manageable. These include eating a healthy diet and a proper exercise program to help maximize the potential of medications, increase energy, and promote general health and well-being in Parkinson’s patients.

Physical, occupational and speech therapies can help with walking and gait issues, fine motor skills, and speech and language issues that may arise with Parkinson’s disease while deep brain stimulation (DBS) may improve symptoms in certain patients.

CBD for Parkinson’s Disease

Research & Scientific Evidence

A handful of studies have investigated the effects of cannabidiol (CBD) to treat Parkinson’s disease and symptom management. However, the main body of evidence showing that CBD has promise as an effective treatment for this disease lies in studies relating to adjunct actions and complications from the disease including oxidative stress, neural inflammation and neurodegeneration.

One such study is from 2011 in which researchers published the findings of the journal Psychopharmacology. Because of many neurodegenerative disorders involving cognitive deficits, they assessed whether the anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective effects of CBD could be useful in the treatment of memory impairment associated to these diseases.

Using an animal model of cognitive impairment induced by iron overload, they tested the effects of CBD in memory-impaired rats in both a single dose as well as continued use. In the first experimental condition, the researchers administering a single dose of either 5.0 mg/kg or 10.0 mg/kg of CBD immediately after a training session of the novel object recognition task. They continued a daily intraperitoneal CBD injection for 14 days to examine chronic use and performed object recognition training 24 hours after the last dose and a retention tests 24 hours after training.

They found that a single dose of 10.0 mg/kg of CBD recovered memory while repeated CBD administration of either CBD dose improved recognition memory. They concluded that the evidence suggests that CBD shows potential for the treatment of cognitive decline associated with neurodegenerative disorders.

21 Parkinson’s disease patients without dementia or comorbid psychiatric conditions were assigned to three groups of seven subjects each. The control group was treated with a placebo, the first experimental group with 75 mg/day of CBD and the second experimental group with 300 mg/day of CBD. Participants were assessed in respect to motor and general symptoms, well-being and quality of life, and possible neuroprotective effects one week before and again, during the last week of treatment.

Although they didn’t find a statistically significant different between the group for motor and general symptom outcomes or neuroprotective effects, they did find that the patients treated with 300 mg/day of CBD had a significant improvement in their quality of life. However, the researchers also noted that studies with larger samples and specific objectives are required before definitive conclusions can be drawn.

Bonus:
In contrast, the latest research from 2020 suggests that CBD can help with motor symptoms, specifically tremors. In the Journal of Psychopharmacology, researchers published the results from their study aimed at evaluating the impact of a single dose of 300 mg CBD on anxiety measures and tremors induced by a Simulated Public Speaking Test (SPST) in individuals with Parkinson’s disease. They found that a single dose of 300 mg CBD not only decreased anxiety in patients with Parkinson’s disease but that there was also decreased tremor amplitude in an anxiety-provoking situation.

In a 2015 study published in Toxicology in Vitro, scientists investigated the potential neurorestorative effects of CBD and the pathways that mediate it for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

They used rat neurons treated with a neurotoxin that is known to induce Parkinson’s disease in vivo and presents with neuroinflammation, excitotoxicity, mitochondrial dysfunction and reduced neurotrophic support. Cell viability, neuritogenesis (the process of forming of new neurites), neural growth factor (NGF) and neuronal protein expression, and the involvement of NGF receptors after CBD exposure were measured.

The data indicated that CBD has neuroprotective effects on neural cells that involves neuritogenesis, NGF receptors as well as an increased expression of axonal and synaptic proteins leading them to conclude that the neuroprotective effects of CBD might be beneficial in Parkinson’s disease.

Anecdotal Evidence – using CBD oil for Parkinson’s

The scientific evidence seems to indicate that CBD has the potential to improve quality of life for patients with Parkinson’s disease in addition to reducing neuroinflammation and oxidative stress as well as induce neurogenesis and neuritogenesis that can potentially slow or even reverse disease progression. Anecdotal evidence also shows that CBD may improve Parkinson’s disease symptoms in some patients but it would seem that many people find a greater relief and reduction in motor symptoms when using cannabis. In fact, according to this study, while only 4.3% of a self-report survey of patients with Parkinson’s disease used cannabis, it ranked among the most effective complimentary and alternative therapies listed.

CBD as a complementary treatment for Parkinson’s

CBD can also play a role as a complementary therapy to help reduce many of the symptoms associated with the pharmaceutical treatments usually prescribed to patients with Parkinson’s disease. CBD can help alleviate gastrointestinal issues like nausea from side effects of levodopa and safinamide. Likewise, CBD has specifically been shown to help improve complex sleep-related behaviors associated with rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder as well as psychosis in Parkinson’s disease patients.

Bottom Line

The anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative, neuroprotective and neuroregenaritive effects of CBD can all prove to make it a promising treatment for Parkinson’s disease, for both symptom reduction as well as even potentially slowing down disease progression. In addition, the data shows that CBD is also effective at improving overall quality of life. However, it would seem that high dosages of 300 mg/day produced the best effects, probably due to CBD being a pleiotropic drug that produces different effects through multiple molecular pathways at different dosages. As always, speak to your treating physician before using CBD to monitor dosage, symptom severity, and other clinical parameters. In addition, CBD is contraindicated with use with certain medications, so they can ensure that your CBD treatment is both safe and effective.

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