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People with PD are already using CBD in various forms for all sorts of symptoms of PD including insomnia, anxiety, tremor, dystonia and pain.
There have been a few studies of CBD for various symptoms of PD which have generally involved a small number of patients. Many have been open-label trials, in which the doctor and patient are both aware that the patient is receiving treatment and there is no control group that received a placebo.
Tips and takeaways
CBD has been studied extensively in the laboratory and has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Inflammation in the nervous system has been linked to neurodegeneration and therefore it has been hypothesized that CBD might even be beneficial as a neuroprotective agent. Although this is interesting and potentially exciting information, there are numerous other chemicals that have been studied in the laboratory with these properties that did not result in clinical benefit when tried in humans. Therefore, clinical trials become essential to support any claims that CBD should be used for medical purposes. Bottom line, don’t get too excited until there is scientific data to back it up.
For all the other health claims, there is not enough clinical trial data to allow the FDA to state whether or not CBD is effective. And there definitely is not enough data to support the use of one type or formulation of CBD over another.
If you would like to try CBD for one of your PD symptoms, have a conversation with your movement disorders specialist about it. Your doctor may be willing to oversee your trying it, or may feel that it is too risky for you without evidence that it will help. At the very least, he/she can make sure that there are no drug interactions between CBD and anything else that you take and discuss with you any potential side effects that you need to be aware of.
Practically, CBD products can be obtained relatively easily at health food stores and online. They are not considered drugs (except for Epidiolex®), and therefore are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This can be very problematic because without FDA oversight:
If you are thinking about cannabis, you may want to ask your doctor:
Here, we offer general information about cannabis and Parkinson’s, tips for talking with your doctor, and more.
Marijuana comes from the Cannabis plant, which contains hundreds of different components, including cannabinoids. Cannabinoids bind to receptors throughout the brain and body to influence movement, mood, inflammation and other activities. Many of these receptors are in areas of the brain impacted by Parkinson’s disease (the basal ganglia).
In low doses, cannabinoids appear to be relatively well tolerated. But, like all treatments, they have potential side effects: new or worsened nausea; dizziness; weakness; hallucinations (seeing things that aren’t there); mood, behavior or memory/thinking (cognitive) changes; or imbalance. Regular smoking or vaping also could cause lung damage. The potential risks on cognition, mood and motivation (to exercise or participate in other activities, for example) are especially important for people with PD.
What is cannabis?
What research is ongoing?
Cannabis comes in several forms and can be taken different ways: smoking or vaping dried leaves, swallowing pills or eating or drinking foods (edibles) that contain cannabinoids, putting liquid or drops under the tongue, or applying creams or ointments to your skin (on painful areas, for example). Two U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved prescription cannabis medications also are available for specific conditions, such as epilepsy or cancer- or AIDS-related symptoms.