Each year, approximately 90,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Across the United States, nearly 1,000,000 people are living with this condition. With an array of symptoms that affect the body and the mind, living with Parkinson’s disease can be incredibly challenging.
Parkinson’s disease is caused by a decrease in the level of dopamine in the brain due to the breakdown or death of nerve cells that produce this chemical. Dopamine acts as a messenger in the brain. When dopamine levels decline, it leads to the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, which may include tremors, slowed movement, rigidity, loss of balance and changed posture, and related conditions, such as depression and sleep disorders.
There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, and the treatments for this disorder can cause significant side effects and may lose effectiveness over time. If you have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, you may be curious about whether CBD can help to manage your symptoms. Below, we outline some of the scientific research on the use of CBD for Parkinson’s disease so that you can make an informed choice about whether CBD is right for you.
What Is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. It is a progressive disease, with symptoms starting gradually and eventually becoming more severe. Parkinson’s disease often causes tremors, stiffness, and soft or slurred speech.
This disorder is caused by the breakdown or death of nerve cells in the brain, known as neurons. As the neurons that produce the chemical dopamine breakdown or die, the dopamine levels of the brain decrease. This causes abnormal brain activity, which results in the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
Although scientists do not know why this disease occurs, there are certain risk factors for developing Parkinson’s disease, including genetics and environmental triggers. The presence of microscopic markers in the brain — known as Lewy bodies — may be a clue as to the cause of Parkinson’s disease.
The signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease may be different for each person. Typically, symptoms start on one side of the body and will be worse on that side, even after both sides are affected. Common symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include:
- Tremors: tremors or shaking usually begin in a limb, and often starts in the hands or fingers.
Bradykinesia (slowed movement): as the disease progresses, a person’s movement may become slower, which can make simple tasks difficult, such as getting out of a chair or walking.
- Rigidity: in many cases, a person may experience muscle stiffness or rigidity, which can limit range of motion.
- Loss of automatic movements: this may involve a decreased ability to perform movements that are unconscious, such as blinking or smiling.
- Impaired posture and balance: many people with Parkinson’s disease have stooped posture or balance problems.
- Speech changes: hesitation before talking, a monotone voice, and speaking softly, quickly or slurring words may all occur.
- Writing changes: it may become difficult to write over time.
In addition to these signs and symptoms, many people with Parkinson’s disease experience other problems, such as:
- Depression, anxiety and other mental health issues;
- Swallowing, chewing and eating problems;
- Difficulties thinking;
- Sleep disorders;
- Sexual dysfunction;
- Smell dysfunction;
- Blood pressure changes; and/or
- Bladder and bowel issues.
Parkinson’s disease is diagnosed based on a review of a patient’s medical history, signs and symptoms, and a neurological and physical exam. Blood tests and imaging tests may help to rule out other conditions.
This disorder cannot be cured. However, medications to increase dopamine levels in the brain or that mimic the effects of dopamine are often used to control the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. In addition, medications that prevent the breakdown of dopamine and that address specific symptoms, such as tremors, may also be used.
In some cases, surgery may be necessary. In deep brain stimulation, surgeons implant electrodes into specific parts of the brain, which then send electrical pulses to the brain. While this surgery can help to control the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, it will not stop it from progressing.
Can CBD Help with Parkinson’s Disease?
Currently, treatments for Parkinson’s disease most often involve medications that either increase dopamine levels or mimic the effects of dopamine in the brain. These medications are not always effective, and often come with side effects, such as involuntary movements (dyskinesia), hallucinations, loss of energy, purple mottling of the skin, ankle swelling, and compulsive behaviors. For this reason, many individuals who have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease may search for alternatives.
One such option is CBD, or cannabidiol. CBD is a naturally occurring compound found in the cannabis plant. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is found in marijuana plants, CBD does not have a psychoactive effect. People who use CBD do not get high or euphoric.
While research is still developing on exactly how CBD works in our bodies, scientists have found that CBD interacts with cannabinoid receptors that are located throughout our bodies as part of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is involved with a number of functions of the body, including appetite and digestion, chronic pain, mood, metabolism, inflammation, motor control, learning and memory, sleep, cardiovascular system function, liver function, muscle formation, bone remodeling and growth, stress, reproductive system function, and skin and nerve function. Scientists believe that CBD may work by preventing the breakdown of endocannabinoids, or by binding to a receptor in the ECS that has not been discovered.
To date, significant research has been performed on the links between CBD and the signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. This includes:
- A 2018 review published in the Frontiers in Pharmacology found that CBD may be a promising compound to treat and/or prevent movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and dyskinesia. Specifically, CBD may decrease psychotic symptoms and sleep disorders and improve quality of life due to its anxiolytic, antidepressant and antipsychotic properties.
- A 2014 study determined that CBD may help to improve quality of life patients with Parkinson’s disease and no psychiatric disorders.
- A separate study performed in 2014 found that CBD may help to alleviate REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) in Parkinson’s patients, with the study participants experiencing a prompt and substantial reduction of RBD-related events, without side effects.
- A 2013 study on rats found that CBD hinders cataleptic behaviors (muscular rigidity commonly found in patients with Parkinson’s disease).
- In a 2009 study, researchers found that treating patients with psychosis related to Parkinson’s disease resulted in a significant decrease in psychotic symptoms.
- A small, older study from 1986 found that CBD may help to reduce dystonia or tremors in patients with Parkinson’s disease.
In addition, research has shown that CBD may be useful in reducing the symptoms of anxiety, which may be diagnosed in patients with Parkinson’s disease.
While these findings are promising, much research remains to be done on how CBD may help to alleviate the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Because CBD may interact with the ECS in a way that relieves common signs and symptoms of this disorder, it may be helpful for individuals who have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and are seeking ways to control specific symptoms.
Interested in Learning More? We Are Here to Help.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, you know firsthand how devastating this neurological disorder can be. As the disease progresses, many individuals find themselves overwhelmed by the symptoms and by conditions that often accompany a Parkinson’s diagnosis. CBD may be one way to help with these symptoms.
At Green Wellness Life, we are dedicated to helping people who are interested in safe, high-quality CBD products. Each of our products have been independently tested for quality, and are made from industrial hemp that is grown and regulated in the United States. While our team is highly knowledgeable about CBD, we are not medical professionals and cannot diagnose or treat any medical or mental health issues. Instead, we offer information on the latest scientific research for you to review and make a decision for yourself.
If you are considering CBD, we can help. You can start with our product finder, which will allow you to find the best CBD product for your needs. If you have additional questions or need further assistance, you can reach out to us at 866-244-4223, or email us at any time.