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CBD and Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disease that primarily affects a person’s motor function and movement, and generally affects people over the age of 60. There is no cure for Parkinson’s and other related neurodegenerative diseases like ALS and Alzheimer’s.

The disease is caused by misfolded proteins in nerve cells, and in the case of Parkinson’s, this happens in the part of the brain responsible for movement (unlike Alzheimer’s, which affects memory). PD results from the death of dopamine-producing nerve cells in the part of the brain responsible for movement (called the substantia nigra). The ultimate cause of most cases of PD in unknown, though some can be hereditary, and symptoms generally include shaking extremities, loss of balance, stiffness, shuffling steps, and difficulty swallowing, among others.

CBD and cannabis therapies have shown great promise in treating the symptoms of Parkinson’s and might also stop or greatly decrease the underlying nerve damage. Long-term daily use of CBD can have therapeutic effects on preventing the onset, halting the progression, and alleviating the symptoms associated with Parkinson’s.

A 2014 study of 22 human patients showed a great improvement in symptoms like rigidity, tremors, and slowness of movement, with improvements in sleep and pain reported as well.1 There is also preliminary evidence that CBD can delay the progression of PD due to its potent neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. Studies in both 2015 and 20162 concluded that CBD can help recover memory deficits induced by brain iron accumulation, which is a feature of several neurological diseases.3 Another study showed measurable improvement in quality of life and general well-being scores in PD patients after only one week of treatment with CBD.4

A meta-analysis conducted by Italian scientists in 2009 concluded that CBD “is a very promising agent with the highest prospect for therapeutic use in treating Parkinson’s.”5

  1. Itay Lotan et al., “Cannabis (Medical Marijuana) Treatment for Motor and Non–Motor Symptoms of Parkinson Disease,” Clinical Neuropharmacology 37, no. 2 (2014): 41–44, doi:10.1097/wnf.0000000000000016.
  2. Sandeep Vasant More and Dong-Kug Choi, “Promising Cannabinoid-Based Therapies for Parkinson’s Disease: Motor Symptoms to Neuroprotection,” Molecular Neurodegeneration 10, (April 2015): 17, doi:10.1186/s13024-015-0012-0.
  3. Sandeep Vasant More and Dong-Kug Choi, “Emerging Preclinical Pharmacological Targets for Parkinson’s Disease,” Oncotarget 7, no. 20 (2016): 29835–63, doi:10.18632/oncotarget.8104.
  4. Marcos Hortes N. Chagas et al., “Effects of Cannabidiol in the Treatment of Patients with Parkinson’s Disease: An Exploratory Double-Blind Trial,” Journal of Psychopharmacology 28, no. 11 (2014): 1088–98, doi:10.1177/0269881114550355.
  5. Teresa Iuvone et al, “Cannabidiol: A Promising Drug for Neurodegenerative Disorders?” CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics 15, no. 1 (2009): 65-75, doi: 10.1111/j.1755-5949.2008.00065.x.