Parkinson’s disease and CBD oil- Is there a connection?

CBD oil for medicinal purposes is now being more popular than ever before. It has been using for pain relief and other various medically serious conditions. New research suggests that CBD oil could also be useful against Parkinson’s disease. Several clinical trials have shown that it may have the potential to relieve some of the symptoms associated with Parkinson’s.

Cannabis plant – the source of CBD oil

The cannabidiol or CBD oil is extracted from the cannabis plant, which has a long history of medicinal use. Although the plant contains over 100 compounds, the two compounds that make it stand apart from other plants are the CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). Both compounds were originally used for therapeutic purposes. Later on, it was found that the THC component of the plant has psychoactive effects, it makes people high when used in high dose (1).

It is because of this reason people had started using the plant for recreational purposes. It became the drug of choice for young people around the world and started publicly available with different street names like the weed, pot, ganja, mary jane, dope, and marijuana.

Due to the high addiction rate and criminal reports associated with its usage, the use of cannabis was completely banned in 1970. But soon, it was realized that the CBD (containing 0,3% THC) component of the plant is free from psychoactive effects and has therapeutic potential for various diseases including Parkinson’s (2).

Today, CBD is publicly available in places where medical marijuana is legalized. For example in the UK, Canada, and 30 states of the USA.

How to extract CBD oil from cannabis plant?

The extraction of CBD oil is a simple process that required 3 main steps (3):

  1. 1st the cannabis plant (a good quality) is dried and grounded.
  2. Then the grounded buds are treated with ethanol, mixed well and filtered out.
  3. The liquid is passed through a micro-filtration and kept the filtered portion for overnight. This will cause the remaining ethanol to evaporate. The concentrated form of oil is ready to use.

It is advised to perform this collection method in a well-ventilated and open space.

CBD oil – can it improve the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease?

It all started when it was reported that cannabidiol consumption alleviates seizures and other problems in children with severe epilepsy (4).

Since epilepsy is a neurological disorder that shared some features with Parkinson’s, it was thought that cannabidiol could also be useful for people with Parkinson’s (5).

After several clinical trials, researchers found that cannabidiol could potentially help to control the non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s.

For example in one study, the use of cannabidiol was shown to improved psychosis, which includes minor illusions, non-disturbing hallucinations, and vivid dreams. In this study, six Parkinson’s patients who had psychosis for 3 months were given 150 mg/day cannabidiol for 4 weeks. The study found that cannabidiol treatment caused a significant reduction in the psychosis-related complications in these patients (6).

Similarly, the use of CBD was also shown to reduce sleep problems in Parkinson’s patients. In a pilot study conducted on 4 patients with Parkinson’s showed that daily intake of cannabidiol had markedly reduced the frequency of rapid eye movement sleep, which is a common sleep disorder in Parkinson’s (7).

Furthermore, in a double-blind clinical trial conducted on 21 Parkinson’s patients showed that 300 mg daily intake of cannabidiol for 6 weeks resulted in a greatly improved quality of life in these patients (8).

How does CBD oil cause its therapeutic effects against Parkinson’s disease?

Research is underway to find out the exact mechanism of how CBD could improve Parkinson’s disease symptoms. So far, researchers have come up with two broad but compelling actions for CBD in the brain:

1. CBD action as an antioxidant

2. CBD action as an anti-inflammatory

Let’s have a look at how these CBD-mediated actions are performed in the brain.

1. CBD action as an antioxidant

Increased oxidative stress negatively affects normal functions of the cell (9).

Although all cells in the body are affected by oxidative stress, brain cells and especially the dopamine cells are much more sensitive to such damage. In fact, oxidative stress is believed to be one of the primary causes in the presentation of Parkinson’s disease(10).

Research has shown that cannabidiol has an antioxidant property. It means that it has the ability to effectively encounter oxidative stress condition and protect brain cells from dying. Through this neuroprotective action, CBD may potentially protect the brain from developing Parkinson’s.

The intake of cannabidiol not only protect brain cells from dying due to oxidative stress but also helps in the growth and recovery of new cells. These abilities of CBD have been proved in several studies (11 12 13).

2. CBD action as an anti-inflammatory

Although inflammation has not been established yet as the primary cause of Parkinson’s, emerging research data suggests that this process could be indirectly contributing in the disease progression (14).

Many studies have shown that CBD has the ability to reduce the process of inflammation within the brain. It does so by inhibiting the formation of pro-inflammatory molecules inside the cell and facilitating the production of anti-inflammatory molecules. By doing so, it protects the cells from dying due to inflammation (15 16 17).

Are there any adverse effects associated with the use of CBD oil?

The toxic effects of CBD have been well studied. Most data has confirmed that the use of CBD is not associated with any adverse effects when used in moderate amount.

A number of clinical trials have shown that CBD is well tolerated and has a good safety record. When tested in Parkinson’s patients, the CBD intake didn’t worsen the patients’ symptoms (18).

Minor side effects caused by its consumption include diarrhea, tiredness, and abnormal eating behavior. Its higher concentration may also suppress the immune system.

Final words

CBD has emerged as one of the alternative therapies to treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. People use it for treating their problems, even though it is still in the clinical trial phase. If you are a Parkinson’s patient and willing to use CBD oil, it is strongly recommended to take the advice of your doctor first.

Disclaimer: The information shared here should not be taken as medical advice. The opinions presented here are not intended to treat any health conditions. For your specific medical problem, consult with your health care provider.

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