CBD and parkinson’s
The hemp plant might be the key to the next big breakthrough in Parkinson’s disease research, specifically CBD for Parkinson’s, according to several recent studies. Parkinson’s affects millions of people, but is poorly understood and notoriously difficult to treat. A compound found in the hemp plant called cannabidiol could help relieve symptoms and even slow the course of the disease.
The Parkinson’s Problem
Parkinson’s disease targets brain cells called “dopaminergic neurons.” These cells are responsible for producing and releasing dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps the brain communicate with the body. According to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, these neurons die off as the disease progresses. That leaves the brain starved for dopamine and unable to control the rest of the body effectively, resulting in loss of balance, tremors, and a host of other symptoms.
For decades, patients have been frustrated by the lack of safe, effective treatments for the disease. The most effective available treatment tries to replace the lost dopamine through a cocktail of drugs. This “dopamine therapy” helps relieve symptoms temporarily, but does little to slow the progression of the disease. Patients end up needing larger and larger doses, making serious side effects more likely. The therapy can also cause major mental health problems. Researchers in Italy recently reviewed several studies linking the drug cocktail to compulsive gambling behaviors, for example.
CBD for Parkinson’s: A New Alternative
Cannabidiol may offer a better option. Scientists don’t know exactly why crucial neurons malfunction and die in Parkinson’s patients, but the process is closely associated with inflammation in the brain and oxidative stress. Dr. Viviane Saito and colleagues say that compounds like CBD offer “a myriad of neuroprotective, anti-neuroinflammatory and antioxidant actions.” The working theory is that CBD attaches to important receptors in the brain, preventing them from becoming over-excited.
Early experimental evidence on the benefits of CBD for Parkinson’s patients looks promising. In 2007, Spanish scientists studying the disease in rats reported that CBD provided “neuroprotection against the progressive degeneration of…dopaminergic neurons,” the precise cells most affected by Parkinson’s. A 2014 study in Brazil tested CBD in human patients and found that the compound improved their quality of life without causing any major side effects.
New research is being funded
Unfortunately, only a handful of studies in humans have been completed so far. CBD research has been hamstrung by the compound’s coincidental association with marijuana. Although CBD can be found in marijuana plants, it is not psychoactive. In fact, according to the Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, CBD does not even interact with the same parts of the brain as the active ingredient in marijuana, and it has little or no effect on mental state.
As a result of regulatory difficulties, research into CBD for Parkinson’s as a possible treatment for has been limited to small experiments outside the United States. But thanks to promising results, larger studies are in the pipeline. In early 2017, Dr. Renata Riha received a major grant from the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation to CBD research. And it’s not just Parkinson’s disease–other scientists are studying hemp derivatives as possible therapies for Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, and many other conditions.
Medical research on this subject is still in its infancy, but all indications suggest that CBD could become a standard treatment for Parkinson’s disease in the near future. Unlike current treatments, CBD appears to relieve the symptoms of the disease and slow down its progression. The compound is also remarkably safe. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reviewed 25 different CBD studies and reported that in every case the authors “did not identify significant side effects across a wide range of dosages.”
How can you get quality CBD derived from hemp?
CBD derived from hemp is legal in the United States under the 2014 Farm Bill. Since then a number of Companies have emerged that offer USA grown CBD formulas under state agriculture programs. Learn more about CBD for treating other human conditions, both common and serious, in an article we published here.
Parkinson’s affects more than a million people in the United States alone, and millions more will acquire the disease in the coming years. If CBD lives up to its promise, it could provide a safe, affordable, and effective treatment for patients with very few good options.