Can CBD oil be used to treat Parkinson's disease?

Leading expert in cannabis medicine Dr Dani Gordon, writes about the benefits and potential risks factors associated with using cannabidiol for Parkinson's treatment.

Cannabidiol - more commonly known as CBD oil - has taken the world by storm thanks to a number of proven health benefits. As well as being used to treat pain, anxiety, sleep problems and MS, anecdotal evidence points towards CBD being effective at easing symptoms of Parkinson's disease.

But can CBD oil really be used as a medical treatment, and does it carry any risk? We speak to leading expert in cannabis medicine Dr Dani Gordon about the efficacy of using CBD-oil to treat degenerative disorders:


What is CBD oil?

CBD is a cannabinoid – a naturally occurring chemical compound – which can be extracted from the cannabis plant. It is then mixed with a carrier oil (such as hemp), to create CBD oil.

CBD is not psychoactive, like the better known TCH, which means that it won’t make you ‘high’. CBD is legal across the UK, as long as it has been derived from an industrial hemp strain that’s EU-approved.


What is Parkinson's disease?

Parkinson's is a condition whereby parts of the brain become increasingly damaged over time. This is due to a loss of nerve cells, but scientists are unsure what causes this to happen in the first place.

Parkinson's disease is a condition whereby parts of the brain become increasingly damaged over time.

According to the NHS, those who suffer from Parkinson's will experience the involuntary shaking of different body parts, stiff muscles and slow movement. They may also struggle with depression, insomnia and anxiety.


Does CBD oil work for Parkinson's treatment?

The main treatment for Parkinson's usually include occupational therapy, physiotherapy, and medication (most commonly Levodopa). However, some research suggests CBD oil might be a viable option to consider.

‘Medical cannabinoid products, of which CBD is one, may help some patients with Parkinson's related symptoms,' says Dr Gordon. While there's not a huge amount of science proving this, there are some preliminary studies which back this claim up.

CBD is one, may help some patients with Parkinson's related symptoms.

'In a study of Parkinsonian patients at the Prague Movement Disorders Centre who reported oral cannabis intake, 30.6 per cent of them self-reported having a reduced resting tremor as a result of oral cannabis intake,' says Dr Gordon. Moreover '44.7 per cent reported that oral cannabis alleviated the symptom of bradykinesia - the slowness of movement.'

'It is unclear what doses of CBD, TCH and medical cannabinoids gives the most benefit but many patients report subjective benefit in terms of sleep, anxiety and quality of life as a result of using CBD and cannabinoid products,’ she adds.


Is there any risk?

At the moment, the scientific research is too limited to confidently state that CBD oil is a safe, effective treatment for Parkinson's. Moreover, while it might help alleviate some of the symptoms of the disease, it's important to note that taking CBD oil is not going to eliminate symptoms altogether.

CBD oil, according to Dr Gordon, 'is not a cure for the disease and we have no evidence that it alters disease progression.'

So while CBD oil may help ease symptoms, it is not a miracle cure-all.

How should you take CBD oil?

If you are interested in using CBD oil to treat Parkinson's, it is available to buy in the form of tinctures, tablets, and even gummy sweets from many major retailers such as Holland & Barrett.

⚠️ If you suffer from Parkinson's, make sure you consult your GP before taking CBD oil.

Each product will come with its own instructions. Tinctures, for example, tend to advise you place a few drops of CBD oil on your tongue around three times a day. Always err on the side of caution until you know exactly what works for you - start with small dosages and work up. Your GP will be able to advise you on this too.