CBD oil is currently making big waves in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Of the many diseases currently being treated by cannabidiol (CBD) and other cannabis products, Parkinson’s may surprisingly be the most treatable.
The controversy surrounding medical marijuana is beginning to calm in the US. As individual states begin to legalize cannabis for both recreational and medical use, the legal embargo on medical research is beginning to weaken. Many roadblocks to fully functioning cannabis research remain, but great strides have already been made. The difference between THC and CBD is slowly becoming common knowledge, which is a great victory for many who suffer from difficult diseases. CBD studies have shown CBD’s interaction with the human body’s endocannabinoid system and cannabinoid 2 (CB2) receptors. Unlike THC, which binds to CB1 receptors to produce the “high” associated with marijuana smoking, CBD offers medicinal value without the psychoactive effect.
Parkinson’s is a degenerative nervous disorder that primarily affects the motor system. It was named after Doctor James Parkinson, who published an influential essay on the disease in 1817. The most common, and most visible symptoms of the disease have to do with motor function. Symptoms usually start with mild tremors in the hands or limbs. Usually, the tremors only start in one hand, then move on from there. Early hand tremors are characterized specifically by the thumb and index finger pinching together and moving in a circle. Eventually, tremor’s become more violent and spread throughout the rest of the body.
Parkinson’s tremors are also accompanied by a general slowness in movement. Tremor’s slow down motor planning—the body’s ability to plan and execute motor movements—drastically. As a result, virtually all daily tasks are affected adversely. Bathing, dressing, eating, and hygiene rituals are all made significantly more difficult with Parkinson’s. Mental stress and other illnesses, however insignificant, can exacerbate Parkinson’s these symptoms.
Rigidity and postural instability are the final two symptom types of Parkinson’s. Rigidity is defined as general muscle stiffness and strong resistance to movement. Postural instability is categorized by unstable movement and regular falling.
Parkinson’s can also cause cognitive and behavioral disturbances, as well as impair thought. The most prominent forms of cognitive instability associated with Parkinson’s are impairments of daily planning, abstract thought, impulse control, and environmental processing. Dementia is not always a symptom of Parkinson’s, but it occurs frequently in conjunction with the disease. Most commonly, dementia increases its potency with age. In the case of Parkinson’s, dementia also increases with the duration of the initial disease. Some Parkinson’s patients also experience anxiety disorders, depression, and obsessive compulsive disorders.
There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease. Historically, the disease has been managed with a combination of medication, surgery, and physical therapy. Depending on the patient, treatment can either be just one of these options, or include all three. Luckily, a lot of new ground is currently being broken in the development of cannabis and CBD treatment for Parkinsonism.
Parkinson’s disease’s most viral success story is that of Larry Smith, a patient who found incredible results after trying CBD oil for the first time. In a viral video, Larry is seen both before and after taking cannabis oil. After four minutes, Larry’s tremors have subsided, and he is even able to sing and hold an extended note, something he clearly hadn’t been able to do for a long time. Larry’s story may not be indicative of every Parkinson’s patient, but it demonstrates the untapped potential that exists for treating Parkinson’s with CBD oil. A study in Israel similarly reported that cannabis nearly removed symptoms from Parkinson’s patients. Participants in the Larry Smith video also state that Larry is not the only Parkinson’s patient to find this level of success in CBD oil.
Through a recent study on mice, we can assert that CBD intervenes for neuron’s affected by toxic Parkinson’s medications: In other words, CBD can, at the very least, allow other Parkinson’s medications to do their job without side effects. There are many CBD treated disorders that have proven effectively treated when CBD is taken in conjunction with other medications.
Anecdotal reports of CBD alleviating Parkinson’s symptoms is clearly overwhelming, but further research also indicates that it’s no fluke. There’s a definite science to what’s going on with Parkinson’s and cannabis. Some scientists take the neuroprotective approach, suggesting that cannabinoids save neuron’s that cause Parkinson’s from significant damage. One of the endocannabinoid system’s primary functions is to regulate a cell’s lifespan. In making up for cannabinoid deficiencies in the body, CBD may also be triggering a neuroprotective response.
Another area where cannabis may be effective in treating Parkinson’s is the brain’s basal ganglia area, where Parkinson’s takes effect. The basal ganglia have a considerable amount cannabinoid receptors. CBD has a direct effect on the endocannabinoid system, so it stands to reason that a high-receptor area would produce a strong healing effect. CBD has also been effective as an anti-inflammatory. Research suggests that there may be a connection between the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD and it’s slowing of Parkinson’s symptoms.
It could be easy to hear stories like Larry Smith’s and assume we’ve found a miracle cure for Parkinson’s, but physicians are warning against the idea that CBD—or any form of cannabis, for that matter—is a one-size-fits-all solution for Parkinsonism. Dr. Bonni Goldstein writes that, although Parkinson’s patients are seeing a lot of success, the results still vary. Here’s a quote from her 2016 book, Cannabis Revealed:
If you or someone you know is currently searching for new methods of Parkinson’s treatment, seek out a qualified cannabis clinician to find a treatment plan that works best for your case.