There are many reasons why taking CBD can be good for your health. But one of the most promising is the possibility that CBD can not only help to treat some of the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease, but also actually help to slow down its development.
Scientists believe that there is a close link between Parkinson’s Disease and the endocannabinoid system in the human body, and by using CBD, there is the chance that sufferers of the disease which affects around 10 million people all over the world, we can slow down its development, as well as help them to relieve some of the symptoms that they already have.
What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease which affects the nervous system. People who suffer from the condition develop a loss of motor control and other symptoms including a slow down of movement, shakiness, rigidness and shuffling which can severely reduce their quality of life.
Some of the symptoms which are associated with Parkinson’s can include problems sleeping, anxiety and depression and pain.
Parkinson’s disease occurs when dopamine levels in the brain become very low. Dopamine is the chemical which can affect motor control, giving us control of the movement of the body. It is produced by neurons in the brain, but it is still unknown what causes the drop in these neurons. It is estimated that they can be at levels up to 80% lower than they should be.
Scientists believe that Parkinson’s can occur due to a number of reasons including problems with digestion, exposure to pesticides, head injuries and a genetic disposition.
At the moment, there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease. However, there might be ways that its development can be slowed down, and most treatment that is given to people with the condition is actually to treat their symptoms.
Parkinson’s Disease and the Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system is a biological system which is responsible for regulating a number of factors within the body. It works through the interaction between endocannabinoids which are naturally produced by the human body and cannabinoid receptors – known as CB1 and CB2 receptors.
One of the factors in the body that the endocannabinoid system affects are the neurotransmitters that produce dopamine, which are processed in the basal ganglia. There is an especially high level of CB1 receptors in this area, and this is why scientists believe that the endocannabinoid system – and consequently, CBD and other cannabinoids might be useful for people with Parkinson’s disease.
Scientists have found that when the CB1 receptors which are involved in the production of dopamine aren’t stimulated enough, dopamine levels can drop, nerve cells can die, and Parkinson’s disease can develop.
Another receptor in the endocannabinoid system is called the TRPV1 and this receptor can also moderate levels of dopamine in the basal ganglia. Researchers think that Parkinson’s can occur when the endocannabinoid system tries to compensate for the drop of dopamine.
CBD and how it can help with Parkinson’s Disease
What is CBD a cannabinoid which is naturally present in the cannabis plant. It stands for cannabidiol and is something that scientists are becoming increasingly excited about in terms of its medicinal qualities.
The reason why CBD has so much potential is because it is able to interact with the endocannabinoid system in a similar way to the endocannabinoids, and help to enhance its effects, by replacing some of the endocannabinoids which are depleted in the system.
Researchers also believe that CBD can help to reduce inflammation – both generally in the body, and also in the brain. By reducing inflammation, scientists think that CBD can help to protect the nerve cells in the brain and slow down the development of Parkinson’s.
It is also important to note that another compound of the cannabis plant – THC (or Tetrahydrocannabinol) is also showing promise for those who suffer from Parkinson’s disease. The problem here, however, is that it is THC that is the compound that gives you the high which we commonly associate with cannabis. This means that it is illegal in many countries at high levels, and therefore that it is much more difficult to carry out any research on.
Research shows that both CBD and THC can be beneficial to people with Parkinson’s but to what levels and what ratio, differs from person to person.
Helping to treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s with CBD
The symptoms that people suffer from as a result of their Parkinson’s disease can also have a massive impact on their lives. By being able to help with some of these symptoms, CBD can play a part in improving the quality of life for many people.
Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety and depression can be very common among people with Parkinson’s disease. This is due to two reasons.
Firstly, dopamine, which is the chemical that is severely depleted for people with Parkinson’s. As well as affecting motor control, dopamine is also associated with concentration, euphoria, bliss and is known as the ‘feel-good hormone’. So, with lower levels of dopamine it is only natural that a person might feel low mood, or lack of motivation. By helping to raise the levels of dopamine, these feelings of low mood or depression, could be reduced.
Another benefit of CBD is that it is anxiolytic. This means that it can help to reduce anxiety. This is done by helping to increase levels of dopamine and serotonin (one of the neurotransmitters that gives you feelings of happiness and well-being). It can also help to promote the regeneration of some nerve cells in the hippocampus (the part of the brain which is responsible for memory and cognition, and the part of the brain that is much smaller in the brains of some people who suffer from anxiety and low mood).
Using CBD to help with Insomnia
Not being able to sleep is a common problem for people with Parkinson’s disease. The best way that CBD can help in these circumstances is through its anxiolytic properties which can help people to relax, reduce stress and therefore make it easier for them to sleep.
CBD and Psychotic Symptoms
Due to a mixture of medication, stress and lack of sleep, some people with Parkinson’s disease can experience psychotic symptoms. By reducing stress and helping with sleep, the likelihood of suffering these psychotic symptoms can be lower.
CBD for pain relief
As Parkinson’s affects the movement of the body, it can result in a great deal of pain for the person with the condition, especially in the joints, arms and legs. CBD can both help to deal with inflammation – often the cause of much pain, as well as deal with the pain itself. The fact that it is natural and has no bad side effects mean that it can often be a better option that some of the NSAIDs for long term pain relief.
If you are thinking about taking CBD for Parkinson’s it is important that you don’t do anything without speaking to your doctor first. Don’t stop taking medication and check with your doctor whether the CBD can interact with any medication that you are taking.
This is very important as CBD can affect how some medications are metabolised in the body, and lead to more or less effect than has been calculated by your doctor. If you are already taking CBD products, it is important that you let your doctor know if they want to prescribe you any medication as well.
Life can be very challenging for people who suffer from Parkinson’s disease, and with so many people who have the condition, it is important to be able to slow down its development and treat the symptoms that arise as a result of it. As scientists understand more about Parkinson’s and its link to the endocannabinoid system, there is more and more hope that CBD and other cannabinoids will be able to help people to an even greater degree in the future.