In a world first clinical trial, researchers are testing whether cannabidiol (CBD) can treat Parkinson’s psychosis symptoms. The benefits and research around using CBD and medical marijuana to help treat the symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease.
Can cannabidiol (CBD) treat Parkinson’s symptoms?
In a world first clinical trial, researchers are testing whether cannabidiol (CBD) can treat Parkinson’s psychosis symptoms.
CBD is a compound found in the cannabis plant. Unlike another component, THC, CBD is non-addictive and doesn’t cause intoxication. Current treatments can make other Parkinson’s symptoms worse, as they block dopamine receptors in the brain. This makes this research even more exciting as the existing information we have on CBD suggests it has no side effects.
Hallucinations and delusions
Around 60% of people with Parkinson’s experience hallucinations and delusions and it can be distressing. Charles was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2009 and began to experience hallucinations in 2015.
Charles said of his experience:
“I began to see people and pet dogs. I saw my wife Michele – she died in 2009 around the time when I started to notice mild Parkinson’s symptoms. Whenever she appeared and I reached out to touch her, she disappeared leaving behind a smile a bit like the Cheshire Cat”
How can cannabidiol affect Parkinson’s symptoms.
Current treatments for psychosis work by blocking dopamine receptors in the brain, which can make other symptoms of Parkinson’s, such as a tremor, worse. What’s exciting about cannabidiol is that it seems to act in a different way without causing any other side effects. However, the clinical trial will determine how accurate this is for people with Parkinson’s.
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Dr Sagnik Bhattacharyya and Dr Latha Velayudhan at King’s College London are testing whether CBD helps psychosis symptoms. They’re aiming to find out how safe the drug is, if it does have any side effects, the best way to administer the drug and the ideal dosage.
The project is currently at stage 1, which will establish the safety of CBD and how much people should be taking. Charles is one of seven people who have signed up to take part so far. The researchers need to recruit 24 people for this first stage.
Once the researchers know whether CBD improves psychosis symptoms, the treatment would progress to a phase 2 clinical trial, on a much larger scale.
Currently, there is no treatment for these symptoms that doesn’t have adverse effects.
This pioneering research could be life-changing for people with Parkinson’s facing symptoms of psychosis. Donate now and be part of the science accelerating these research breakthroughs.
“Some people with Parkinson’s have very distressing hallucinations and it can have a negative impact on their lives. It’s not a cure but there are signs that CBD could help a lot of people with the effects of Parkinson’s symptoms and the side effects of the drugs they are prescribed”
This project could have a huge impact on quality of life for Charles and people with Parkinson’s living with hallucinations and delusions. Now you can be part of accelerating research breakthroughs.
Using CBD to Treat Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms
The benefits and research around CBD are still emerging
Colleen Travers writes about health, fitness, travel, parenting, and women’s lifestyle for various publications and brands.
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.
Diana Apetauerova, MD, is board-certified in neurology with a subspecialty in movement disorders. She is an associate clinical professor of neurology at Tufts University.
With the legalization of medical marijuana, many states are approving the use of it in a non-traditional way to treat the symptoms of certain conditions, including Parkinson’s disease. Marijuana has two major components to it—tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Both may help with nausea and muscle pain or spasms, but unlike THC, CBD doesn’t give you the “high” feeling marijuana is most commonly known for. This makes it an enticing, natural way for many to help treat their Parkinson’s disease symptoms. What’s more, is that because CBD is a natural compound from the Cannabis sativa plant, using it may also leave you side effect-free, unlike many prescription medications.
The body of research on using CBD for Parkinson’s disease symptoms is rapidly growing, as Parkinson’s disease affects 1% of the population over 60 years old. Parkinson’s disease is a neurological condition, affecting the nervous system. Parts of the brain that produce dopamine, which is responsible for sending messages to the body in order to direct movement, become damaged or die. This results in tremors, muscle stiffness, the inability to use facial expressions, and trouble balancing.
In connection with Parkinson’s disease as well as other movement-related disorders, CBD may help improve motor skills. In one study published in Frontiers in Pharmacology CBD was shown to have a more preventative role in delaying abnormal movement symptoms in animal models of Parkinson’s.
Since Parkinson’s disease can take some time to properly diagnose when the symptoms are already prevalent, using CBD once diagnosed may not offer much benefit. With early detection combined with the use of CBD together the possibility of reducing movement-related symptoms increases.
Those dealing with Parkinson’s disease may also have trouble sleeping due to REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD), a condition in which patients ‘act out’ their dreams while asleep. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics found that four patients with Parkinson’s disease who also suffered from RBD had a decrease of RBD symptoms during sleep with the use of CBD.
In some cases, people suffering from Parkinson’s disease may also have symptoms of psychosis, ranging in hallucinations to vivid dreams and illusions. Research has found that CBD may be able to help. In research out of University of São Paulo in Brazil, patients were given a dose of CBD starting out at 150 milligrams (mg) per day in addition to their current treatment plan of therapy for four weeks. The use of CBD showed no adverse effects, no impact on worsening motor function, and a decrease in their reported psychosis symptoms, meaning that not only can it help with the physical setbacks of Parkinson’s disease, it can also play a part in the cognitive challenges as well. This was however an older study and current clinical trial evidence to support the use of CBD is minimal.
More research out of Brazil suggests CBD can improve the overall quality of life of those with Parkinson’s disease. In a sample of 21 patients, those who were treated with 75 mg to 300 mg of CBD per day reported a significant increase in quality of life, though no significant differences were noted in motor and general symptoms or neuroprotective effects. This goes to show how much results can vary when it comes to the effects of CBD, requiring larger studies to be done in order to get more definitive answers to this treatment option.
Uses and Safety
Parkinson’s disease can impact cognitive function and memory, particularly in those whose symptoms progress to Parkinson’s disease dementia. Because of this, medical marijuana with both THC and CBD may not be recommended, as it can impair thinking and brain function even more so. CBD by itself may be a safer route.
CBD has been discovered as an effective way to help treat Parkinson’s disease symptoms because it interacts with two cannabinoid receptors in the body found on certain cells called CB1 and CB2. By interacting with one or both of these receptors, CBD may delay tremor development as well as have protective neurological benefits. But as seen with the above studies, there is no uniform approach or conclusion on this treatment method. This means that patients may react differently to using CBD, some having tremendous success while others seeing little difference. But regardless of whether or not CBD is an effective treatment option for you, you always need to consult your treating physician to make sure this treatment will not cause side effects.
What can cause side effects is if a patient decides to mix medical marijuana with their treatment plan that consists of certain prescription medications. If you plan to use medical marijuana as opposed to CBD by itself, it’s smart to consult a healthcare provider or your pharmacist before you start mixing it in with other medications to make sure it’s safe for you.
Should You Use It?
While the research on CBD to treat Parkinson’s disease symptoms is largely inconclusive, its mild effect on patients as a whole makes it enticing to try in addition to an existing traditional treatment plan. Parkinson’s disease has no cure. But with prescription medication, therapy, and now perhaps the use of nontraditional options like CBD, patients may be able to experience less frequency and severity of symptoms that affect their motor skills.
If you’re interested in trying CBD for Parkinson’s disease, talk to your healthcare provider about it. They will be able to point you to the latest research and provide recommendations on how much you should take. They will also be able to monitor your progress with the rest of your care team in order to come to a conclusion if this is the right treatment plan for you.
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Peres FF, Lima AC, Hallak JEC, Crippa JA, Silva RH, Abílio VC. Cannabidiol as a Promising Strategy to Treat and Prevent Movement Disorders?. Front Pharmacol. 2018;9:482. doi:10.3389/fphar.2018.00482
Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson’s website. New Research, Medications, and CBD for Parkinson’s. Updated November 14, 2018.
Parkinson’s Foundation website. Medical Marijuana.
The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research website. Ask the MD: Medical Marijuana and Parkinson’s Disease. Update May 2, 2018.