CBD Oil for Parkinson’s: Does It Work?

Are you considering using CBD for Parkinson’s disease? Find out what researchers have found when examining the impact of CBD on Parkinson’s symptoms.

Read this recent study on Cannabidiol for Parkinson's Disease Symptom Management.

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurological disorder with no known cure. The goal of practitioners is to create a plan that supports a good quality of life. This typically involves medication and lifestyle changes.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound from the hemp plant that’s quickly becoming one of the most popular natural remedies for a variety of ailments, from treatment-resistant seizures to daily stress.

Because CBD interacts with the central nervous system receptors, researchers are interested in its potential for patients with neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia.

In this article, we’re going to delve into the science of CBD and Parkinson’s disease to help answer the question, “can CBD help with Parkinson’s disease?”

Treating Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is marked by a multitude of symptoms that can negatively influence a person’s quality of life. Tremors, sleep difficulties, anxiety, depression, forgetfulness, stiffness, and inhibited movements are just some of the many PD symptoms.

There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease. When treating PD, the goal is to reduce the intensity and variety of PD symptoms that a patient experiences. To do this, physicians turn to lifestyle changes, physical therapy and other forms of therapy, medications, and surgery.

The most common class of drugs used to treat PD is dopaminergic drugs. These drugs work to boost dopamine levels and activity, minimizing the motor difficulties that PD patients experience.

Due to side effects, disease progression, and the potential for medications to become less effective over time, patients frequently work with their doctors to adjust their treatment protocols. The right treatment plan can help PD patients live long and fulfilling lives.

Can CBD Oil Help with Parkinson’s Symptoms?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is becoming a popular natural remedy that people turn to for relief from PD symptoms. It’s important to understand that we do not have enough data yet to determine if CBD is beneficial and well-tolerated in PD patients.

While more research into CBD and PD is needed, some researchers are optimistic that CBD may be beneficial for PD patients. It is CBD’s neuroprotective, antipsychotic, anxiolytic, and anti-inflammatory properties that have led researchers to look into the impact of this unique cannabinoid on Parkinson’s disease.

Human Studies on CBD and Parkinson’s Disease

1. CBD on Anxiety and Tremors in Patients With Parkinson’s Disease

Aim: This study sought to determine what effect an acute dose of CBD has on anxiety and tremors caused by a Simulated Public Speaking Test (SPST) in PD patients. SPST tests are used in the lab setting to create an anxiety-inducing situation.

Study Design: Twenty-four PD patients participated in two SPST tests conducted on different days. Each patient was given 300 mg CBD before one test and a placebo before the other. Neither patient nor researcher knew which treatment was given on each day. The researchers then measured data that would tell them the severity of anxiety and tremors during each test.     

Findings: Acute administration of 300 mg CBD resulted in decreased anxiety and tremors when compared to the placebo treatment during the anxiety-inducing Simulated Public Speaking Test.

2. CBD’s Impact on Psychosis in PD Patients

Aim: This study aimed “to directly evaluate for the first time, the efficacy, tolerability and safety of CBD on PD patients with psychotic symptoms.”

Study Design: Six PD patients, four men and two women, who had experienced psychotic symptoms for at least three months were included in the study. Each patient started with 150 mg/day oral CBD while continuing their medications. Over four weeks, the dosage was increased for some patients, with a final dosage of between 150 mg/day and 400 mg/day. Psychosis was evaluated as was the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale.

Findings: Psychotic symptoms decreased during CBD treatment. No worsening of motor skills or other adverse effects were found, and the patients experienced a decreased total score in the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale.

3. CBD and REM Sleep Behavior Disorder in PD Patients

Aim: This study evaluated the impact of CBD on REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) in Parkinson’s patients.

Study Design: Four Parkinson’s patients with REM sleep behavior disorder were treated with daily CBD. Before, during, and after treatment, RBD symptoms were evaluated.

Findings: Each of the four patients experienced rapid and consistent improvements in RBD symptoms during CBD treatment. These improvements disappeared once CBD treatment was stopped.

4. CBD Treatment and Parkinson’s Symptoms

Aim: The aim of this study was to determine how daily CBD of different dosages compared to placebo in terms of symptoms, quality of life, and brain health for patients with Parkinson’s disease.

Study Design: Twenty-one PD patients without dementia or other psychiatric conditions were assigned to one of three groups: placebo, 75 mg/day CBD, or 300 mg/day CBD. Patients were assessed one week before the trial and during the last week of the trial in regard to motor function, general symptoms, and quality of life and well-being. Researchers also looked for potential neuroprotective effects of CBD.

Findings: No significant difference was found between the placebo and CBD groups in terms of motor symptoms, general symptoms, or measures that indicate neuroprotective effects. The 300 mg/day CBD group did experience a greater score than the other groups in the quality of life and well-being assessment. 

What’s Next

Every study examining the impact of CBD on Parkinson’s disease has included small sample sizes. Before any definitive conclusions can be drawn about the efficacy and safety of CBD oil for Parkinson’s disease, larger clinical studies are needed. Fortunately, there are many scientists and doctors currently planning, recruiting, or carrying out clinical trials to examine the potential of CBD for PD patients.

For instance, a phase 2 clinical trial is currently recruiting PD patients to assess CBD’s influence on PD motor symptoms. This study aims to have 60 participants, which is a higher number of subjects than any study yet published examining CBD and PD.

Over the next few years, expect to see more research into the potential impacts of CBD and other cannabinoids on Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative disorders.

Final Thoughts

Patients, family members, and medical professionals understand how difficult it is to treat Parkinson’s disease. At present, there is no cure for PD, leaving patients to work with their care team to come up with a plan to minimize symptoms, thereby supporting a better quality of life.

Many Parkinson’s patients have decided to try CBD hemp oil to see how this natural compound influences their symptoms. To come up with a CBD plan, we recommend working directly with your doctor.

If you would like to speak with a medical professional that has experience using CBD and other cannabinoids with their patients, visit the Society of Cannabis Clinicians. These doctors can help you pair CBD therapy with your current medications.