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What are the benefits of CBD for Parkinson’s disease?

Rupert St Aubyn

Posted on October 10 2022

What are the benefits of CBD for Parkinson’s disease?

As TV presenter Jeremy Paxman reveals he would be open to trying CBD for his Parkinson’s symptoms, we explore the potential benefits.

The journalist, broadcaster and TV presenter Jeremy Paxman revealed he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 18 months ago and his plans to step down from his role as University Challenge host this summer.

The debilitating condition currently affects one in 37 people in the UK and can have a significant impact on the patients quality of life. 

Previous surveys have found that increasing numbers of patients are turning to medicinal cannabis to help manage symptoms.

Now in a new ITV documentary Jeremy Paxman: Putting up With Parkinson’s, which aired this week, he explored the potential of CBD for managing symptoms – and admitted he would be open to trying cannabis-based medicines.

As seen in the documentary, a major study from Kings College London is looking at the impact of CBD on psychosis – a key symptom in Parkinson’s patients, with research into CBD’s ability to alleviate disturbing dreams and psychosis. 

According to Parkinson’s UK, 50 to 60% of Parkinson’s patients have hallucinations, and after the CBD trial, patients have reported having peaceful sleep with initial results being incredibly promising. 


What is Parkinson’s disease?

Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disorder that predominantly affects the dopamine-producing (dopaminergic) neurons in a specific area of the brain called the substantia nigra. 

Symptoms generally develop slowly over years, however, the progression of symptoms is often a bit different from one person to another due to the diversity of the disease. 

People with the condition may experience:

  • Tremor, mainly at rest and described as pill rolling tremor in hands; other forms of tremor are possible
  • Slowness and paucity of movement (called bradykinesia and hypokinesia)
  • Limb stiffness (rigidity)
  • Gait and balance problems (postural instability)

In addition to movement-related (motor) symptoms, Parkinson’s symptoms may be unrelated to movement (non-motor). 

People with Parkinson’s disease are often more impacted by their non-motor symptoms than motor symptoms. 

Examples of non-motor symptoms include depression, anxiety, apathy, hallucinations, constipation, orthostatic hypotension, sleep disorders, loss of sense of smell, and a variety of cognitive impairments.

What is CBD?

CBD is a compound found in the cannabis plant. CBD is non-addictive and doesn’t cause intoxication. 

CBD – which is short for cannabidiol – is one of many chemical compounds of the Cannabis sativa plant. CBD can be taken as a food supplement via a CBD oil, CBD capsule or CBD gummy or applied to the skin as a CBD cream or balm.

How can cannabidiol affect Parkinson’s symptoms? 

Current treatments for psychosis in relation to Parkinson’s disease work by blocking dopamine receptors in the brain, which can make other symptoms of Parkinson’s, such as a tremor, worse. 

What’s exciting about cannabidiol is that it seems to act in a different way without causing any other side effects. However, the clinical trial will determine how accurate this is for people with the disease. 

CBD is also found to help with treatment for other symptoms of the disease such as depression, anxiety, pain and a variety of sleep disorders.

Research shows that the use of CBD in your bedtime routine can help support your sleeping cycle and enhance your sleep. The endocannabinoid system plays a role in maintaining certain body functions, such as mood, appetite, sleep, and regulating circadian rhythms. 

As far as how they may affect sleep, some research indicates that the cannabinoid CBD may interact with specific receptors, potentially affecting the sleep/wake cycle. Additionally, CBD may also decrease anxiety and pain, which can both interfere with restful sleep. 

Whilst most over-the-counter remedies such as herbal therapies can only offer mild effects, CBD has shown to be extremely effective in fighting anxiety. Studies show that CBD oil may help treat anxiety and alleviate depression by altering serotonin levels in the brain.

Dr P Balu, founder of the Emotional Wellness Clinic and scientific advisor at UK CBD brand, Cannaray, commented: “Taking CBD is a great natural supplement that has proven effects on lowering anxiety and stress levels. CBD is a natural ingredient that is being increasingly used and recommended to help calm symptoms of anxiety. 

“Emotional wellness and mental health conditions are influenced by multiple factors and it is important to consider a holistic approach when dealing with the mind and brain health. CBD may be a very useful addition to the long list of things one can do for their mental wealth.”

Dr Daniella Tonucci, the brand’s resident pain expert, added: “The evidence of benefit is good, moderate or weak for different medical conditions. Whilst cannabinoids are not a cure and may require long-term use, their side effects are minimal and in combination with other treatment modalities, they have the potential to improve quality of life. They may be helpful in reducing multiple symptoms in chronic complex disease.”


Courtesy of Cannabis Health Magazine.


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