Posted on

is cbd oil ok for parkinsons

Can CBD Help Treat Parkinson’s Disease and its Symptoms?

As CBD has increased in popularity globally, many people are looking to see if it may be able to help with their particular ailment or condition. One of the conditions that CBD may be useful in treating is Parkinson’s disease, although more research still needs to be done.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder. It affects the central nervous system through brain cells. The brain cells we have that produce dopamine (a neurotransmitter) become damaged and die. As dopamine sends messages to the body to help it control movement, the result is tremors, difficult balancing and stiff muscles. The disease often onsets later in life, with the majority of people feeling the first symptoms age 60+. It is possible, however, to discover you have Parkinson’s much earlier than this.

Unfortunately, there is also a chance that Parkinson’s disease can then develop into Parkinson’s disease dementia. This is when the brain’s cognitive functioning is also effected. In these cases people may often have their memories, decision making capabilities and attention spans cease to function as aptly as before.

What are the Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease?

Alongside the severe tremors and motion difficulties often most affiliated with Parkinson’s disease, the disease has a wide range of other symptoms. There is pain across the body, which regularly affects those with Parkinson’s. It is also common to experience psychosis as a possible complication of Parkinson’s disease. It may be possible that up to 50% of people with Parkinson’s disease experience some kind of psychosis. This can cause delirium, hallucinations and delusions.

There are also many symptoms of Parkinson’s that affect general quality of life. Those with Parkinson’s are much more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and traumatic-stress disorders stemming from their experiences with being ill. Insomnia and sleeping issues are also very common and may be related to the other cognitive functional failures occurring in a person with Parkinson’s disease.

What is CBD?

CBD stands for cannabidiol. It is a naturally occurring chemical compound, found in the cannabis plant. It is one of hundreds of cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, and is one of the most prevalent and well-studied.

CBD is entirely non-psychoactive, unlike the other common cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC has psychoactive effects, and is the cause of the ‘high’ feeling commonly associated with cannabis.

There is a range of research to suggest that CBD may be a possible treatment for stress and anxiety, as well as helping manage and reduce the experience of pain. CBD is available across a wide variety of delivery methods (such as pain-patches, tincture oils, capsules and vapes). This wide variety of methods available legally and on the high-street have led to an increased interest in the capabilities of the compound to help treat complex conditions.

How does CBD Work?

CBD works through an internal system within our bodies, known as the endocannabinoid system. Our brain produces its own kind of cannabinoid compound, and it is believed that these molecules may have many effects on our metabolism, and internal processes occurring within the body.

There are two main types of cannabinoid receptor, which are found throughout our bodies. CB1 receptors are those that respond to THC and are found inside the brain. CB2 receptors, however, are found in cells involved in the immune system and within the brain. These receptors respond to CBD and are found in the areas that control movement.

Can CBD Help with Parkinson’s Tremors?

Interestingly, there are mixed results from studies that have looked to see the effect that cannabinoids (specifically CBD) can have on Parkinson’s tremors.

See also  where to buy cbd oil for cancer uk

There is evidence to suggest that CBD is useful for controlling tremors, however, in these cases the tremors were not caused by Parkinson’s disease. For example, a clinical trial that took place in Brazil demonstrated that CBD could help reduce tremors in those with anxiety.

There has been a smaller study which demonstrated that CBD could be useful at controlling Parkinson’s tremors, however, this was undertaken in the 1980s. A study in the 1990s, with only 5 people, then showed that there was little effect on tremors amongst those with Parkinson’s disease, however this was a small study and more research still needs to be done.

As the tremors are cause by dopamine levels, there are further interesting developments in CBD as treatment for Parkinson’s tremors. Researchers from the University of Louisville, Kentucky, discovered that CBD potentially increases dopamine levels, thus could counteract the decrease of dopamine levels experienced by those with Parkinson’s disease.

Cannabinoids may also be able to prevent cells from denaturing, an exciting development when looking specifically at Parkinson’s disease. In Parkinson’s, brain cells cease to function properly as they experience a range of issues. These issues are protein misfolding (when proteins are not the correct shape and therefore build up inside of cells), general inflammation, oxidative stress (when damaging free radicals overload inside the cells) and mitochondrial failure (when the powerhouses of our cells stop to function properly).

Studies have suggested that cannabinoids may help to stop these harmful processes from occurring. The research has often been done looking at CB2 receptors (the ones effected by CBD, as opposed to THC). The damage may be mitigated or lessened by CBD, although more research is needed.

Can CBD Help with the Other Symptoms of Parkinson’s?

There are further studies that suggest there are possible benefits to consuming CBD to help settle the other symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.


A study that looked into the treatment of Parkinson’s onset psychosis with CBD discovered that the compound may be beneficial here. The data suggested that “CBD may be effective, safe and well tolerated for the treatment of the psychosis in PD”.

Sleep Issues

Vivid dreams, sleep disturbances, and general insomnia are all often experienced by those suffering from Parkinson’s disease. There have been studies specifically focusing on the experience of sleep and its improvements after using CBD on those with Parkinson’s disease. One study demonstrates that CBD can improve sleep-related disturbances in those with Parkinson’s. Long term studies in those without Parkinson’s have also demonstrated that CBD is a helpful sleep aid.

A study looking at the benefits of medical cannabis on those with Parkinson’s revealed that cannabis can reduce the pain felt in those with Parkinson’s disease. It is worth noting that this study was conducted using medical cannabis which also contains THC, as opposed to isolated CBD.

There are also multiple studies which demonstrate the efficacy of CBD on pain, although not specialised to Parkinson’s disease.

An increasing number of studies have shown promise in relation to using topical CBD, such as CBD balm, in order to manage pain. This can manifest in a variety of ways, including fighting inflammation, interacting with the endocannabinoid system and soothing the skin when applied topically.

CBD interacts with certain endocannabinoid receptors in your brain. The receptors receive signals from various stimuli throughout the body, allowing your cells to respond.

This response, enhanced by CBD, causes anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects.

This was highlighted in one particular meta review into CBD and pain relief conducted in 2018. Vuckovic et al concluded that CBD was effective in the management of pain, in relation to cancer pain, fibromyalgia and neuropathic pain.

See also  barelans cbd oil for anxiety


As with any new drug or supplement, it is always important to speak to a medical professional before starting. That said, it may be worth speaking to your doctor about supplementing with CBD, as the results from recent studies seem to demonstrate that it may have many positive and helpful affects for those struggling with Parkinson’s disease.

Please feel free to explore the array of world class CBD products on offer at Cannacares, ranging from CBD patches, to topical CBD products to CBD capsules. Don’t hesitate to give us a call and we will help you as best we can!

Complementary therapies

Many people with Parkinson’s are interested in complementary therapies such as acupuncture, aromatherapy and herbal medicine. These non-conventional treatments are often based on centuries-old techniques.

Although there is little scientific evidence about their use as a form of Parkinson’s therapy, many people with the condition seem to find complementary therapy techniques helpful, especially for relaxation and to reduce stress and depression. This section provides a guide to complementary therapies in general as well as specific techniques that people with Parkinson’s have tried.

Always consult your doctor before trying any form of complementary therapy. Depending on how Parkinson’s affects you, some techniques may not be suitable, and some herbal medicines could react badly with medicines used to treat Parkinson’s.

Cannabis (marijuana) and Parkinson’s

In recent years, there has been increased interest in the medical use of cannabis but to date, there is very limited evidence into its benefits in Parkinson’s.

What is cannabis?

Cannabis, also known as marijuana, comes from the Cannabis sativa plant which is thought to contain around 100 different compounds known as cannabinoids. Its main cannabinoid is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is known to be a psychoactive drug, that is a substance that affects brain function. THC may help with pain, nausea and muscle spasms but it also alters mental processes, behaviour, mood, consciousness and perception.

The second most common cannabinoid is cannabidiol (CBD) which does not have psychoactive properties but many believe it may be beneficial in treating a wide range of conditions such as multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, depression and Parkinson’s. In 2018 a major study 1 found cannabis to be beneficial in treating some cancer-related symptoms (pain, sleep problems and nausea) but evidence for its benefits for other symptoms and conditions remains elusive.

Cannabis can be taken in different forms and ways, for example, smoking dried leaves, as a spray under the tongue or as tablets. THC and CBD are thought to be largely responsible for the effects of cannabis although their mechanisms of action are not fully understood.

The concentrations of THC, CBD and other cannabinoids vary from one form to another, and also from one plant to another. This variability is one of a number of challenges encountered in clinically evaluating the effects of cannabis, both alone and in combination with other medications.

  1. Prospective analysis of safety and efficacy of medical cannabis in large unselected population of patients with cancer. European Journal of Internal Medicine 2018 Mar. Vol. 49; 37-43 – view article

The role of cannabinoid receptors

Our bodies naturally make cannabinoids that control various processes, such as mood, sleep and appetite, by binding to cannabinoid receptors throughout the brain and body. We have two main types of cannabinoid receptor, which are like switches outside cells that trigger a biological reaction within a cell once the receptor is activated: CB1 receptors are located in the brain and respond to THC which results in the ‘highs’ associated with cannabis use; CB2 receptors are found mainly on cells relating to the immune system and on brain cells believed to be responsible for pain relief.

See also  coupon code for endoca cbd oil

There are concentrations of cannabinoid receptors in the basal ganglia area of the brain, where dopamine-producing neurons are located and which is known to be involved in the movement symptoms of Parkinson’s. Researchers have therefore speculated that a substance such as cannabis, which binds with cannabinoid receptors in an area of the brain so closely involved in Parkinson’s, may positively affect the symptoms of the condition. Extensive research into this is underway.

Cannabis and Parkinson’s

Although cannabis has been used since ancient times for relieving pain, improving sleep and for many other purposes, there is still very little evidence regarding its efficacy and safety.

Studies have suggested that cannabis may have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties but much more research is needed to understand this. Neuroprotection is of particular interest in Parkinson’s due to the loss of dopamine-producing neurons.

Anecdotal evidence and some clinical studies have suggested that cannabis may help with symptoms in a wide range of conditions, including Parkinson’s. But despite some promising suggestions, using animal models, that cannabis may help with movement symptoms such as tremor, slowness and levodopa-induced dyskinesia, there have been mixed and often confusing results. In non-motor symptoms such as pain, sleep problems, anxiety, depression, memory problems and hallucinations, research is also ongoing with some encouraging results but side-effects are common and we need to understand more before any conclusions are drawn.

Unfortunately, many clinical studies into cannabis as a Parkinson’s treatment have been hampered by regulatory restrictions or have had various shortcomings. For example, some have not been conducted using the gold standard double-blind, placebo-controlled trial design, many include only a small number of participants, and variable concentrations of CBD and THC (depending on how cannabis is consumed) make it difficult to compare outcomes. As a result, many study results are not widely acknowledged because minimum research standards have not been met.

There is, therefore, a renewed focus on conducting more rigorous studies in large cohorts of patients before any conclusions regarding the potential benefits in treating Parkinson’s symptoms can be reached. These studies will need to establish which symptoms can be alleviated, in whom, appropriate dosages and how cannabis can be safely administered, particularly in the long-term, so as to eliminate associated risks such as addiction and increased risk of heart or lung problems, and side-effects such as nausea, dizziness, hallucinations, physical weakness and cognitive changes.

The potential risks of taking cannabis

Until unambiguous trial results are available, cannabis should be used with great caution in Parkinson’s because of its associated risks, including addiction. Cannabis affects thinking and executive function, which are already frequently impaired in those with the condition. It should not be taken as a substitute for dopaminergic and other approved Parkinson’s treatments. You should always seek medical advice before taking cannabis in any form.

In many countries, taking cannabis is illegal and may result in imprisonment if you are caught with the drug. It can also impair judgement which presents a real danger when driving or carrying out other hazardous activities.

What does the future hold?

Cannabis may be a future Parkinson’s treatment but for now, we need conclusive evidence of the benefits and to better understand appropriate formulations and dosages, the side-effects and interactions with other medications, and any long-term risks. A lot more research is required both in the lab and in clinical trials, including into specific molecules isolated from the plant, in order to achieve these goals.

Content last reviewed: August 2018


We would like to thank Prof Peter Jenner (King’s College, London, UK) for his help in reviewing this information.