April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month. According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, over one million individuals will be diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD) in the US by 2030.
The neurogenic condition that can affect motor (movement) skills, sleep, and mood — currently has no cure. Smilyn Wellness explores the effects of the disease and how patients are using cannabinoids to decrease the devastating adversities experienced with PD symptoms.
Medical research has suggested that CBD can be used by many patients worldwide to lessen the symptoms of conditions as wide-ranging as migraines and multiple sclerosis to anxiety and Parkinson’s disease.
What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s is a long-term disease of the central nervous system. Symptoms gradually appear. Movement is affected. Stiffness, trembling of limbs, as well as imbalances and loss of muscle control occur. And the ability to talk — maybe even walk is lost over time.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease
- Speech changes
- Handwriting changes
- Loss of smell
- Slowed movement
- Trouble sleeping
- Rigid muscles
- Impaired posture and balance
- Dizziness or fainting
- Facial masking
Benefits of Using CBD to Treat Parkinson’s Disease
Treatment options for PD have traditionally centered on dopamine replacement to provide symptomatic relief from motor symptoms.
According to Movement Disorder Society-PD (MDS-PD) criteria, the clinical diagnosis of PD has centered on a defined motor syndrome built on three cardinal motor symptoms (MS), such as hypokinesia, tremors, and muscle rigidity. However, non-motor symptoms also exist, which include insomnia, depression, anxiety, cognitive deficits, depression, psychotic symptoms, and autonomic dysfunctions — which can be present at the onset and during disease progression.
In an article published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, researchers at the Federal University of Sao Carlos and the University of São Paulo suggest CBD may be an alternative treatment for patients with Parkinson’s.
Let’s take a closer look at the benefits.
Sleep Pattern. Research indicates cannabidiol (CBD) can advance complex sleep-related behaviors associated with rapid eye movement sleep disorders in Parkinson’s disease patients.
Decreased Psychosis. Psychotic symptoms progress with the development of Parkinson’s disease. An open-label study of CBD tablets decreased psychosis hallucinations and delusions in individuals with PD.
Anti-Inflammatory Properties. Anti-inflammatory drugs may prevent Parkinson’s disease (PD) by inhibiting a putative underlying neuroinflammatory process. Pre-clinical work, including several studies funded by MJFF, shows that cannabinoids may protect brain cells through antioxidant and anti-inflammatory mechanisms.
Success with CBD and Parkinson’s Disease
Recently we sat down with loving father and husband Donald Barbour from Indiana, who offered a personal perspective on Parkinson’s Disease, his proactive role in caring for his wife, and how their everyday routine has changed.
Smilyn: If you had to pick one, which area of your life has been most affected by Parkinson’s Disease?
Donald: The area of our lives most affected by Parkinson’s Disease is probably socialization. We have always been social people. Camping, horseback riding, going to the lake cottage, or out to eat was all a part of our everyday lives. Our home was always the epicenter of holiday meals and family gatherings and parties. Because of the disabilities associated with Parkinson’s, physical and mental things like everyday necessities such as bathing, getting dressed, and even eating at home cannot be done without assistance.
Smilyn: What advice would you give the partner of someone with newly diagnosed PD?
Donald: My advice for anyone whose partner has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s is to stay social as long as possible and by all means, encourage regular exercise. A body in motion tends to stay in motion. But most of all, be there for that person, love them and care for them. It’s not their fault they’ve been stricken with this horrible disease.
Smilyn: How has CBD played a role in your family’s PD journey?
Donald: About 13 months ago, we started using CBD oil mainly because we had heard of its calming effects and pain-relieving qualities. Before this, we were taking Xanax, Zoloft, and Levo Dopa. My wife had been on Levo Dopa for ten years since first being diagnosed and the onset of tremors. The dosage had increased over the years to approximately 1000 mg per day. With this came daily episodes which we called spells, for lack of a better phrase. After each meal, she would have one of these spells where she would start shaking, convulsing, and choking on her saliva. Botox shots helped with the saliva, but the rest of the symptoms remained. It came to the point where she was afraid to eat anything. Today, after 13 months of CBD oil, we only have to give her Levo Dopa, which is her prescribed Parkinson’s medication, when the tremors start, which sometimes can be late into the afternoon, or sometimes not at all. She still needs the Levo Dopa but not to the extent that she was receiving it. With the decrease in Levo Dopa, she can now eat a meal without worrying about having a spell afterward. This is sort of contradictory to what specialists were telling us. She still has spells mostly daily, but not always. She is given CBD approximately three times a day, sometimes instead of Levo Dopa, and it calms her and brings her out of it her Parkinson’s spells.
The Second-Most Common Neurodegenerative Disorder
PD is the second-most common neurodegenerative disorder in the US — after Alzheimer’s disease. Parkinson’s affects about 7 to 10 million people worldwide, including about 1.2 million across Europe.
Our interview gave us an appreciation for what individuals with Parkinson’s are capable of overcoming, and we hope to inspire others to recognize that PD patients are much more than their disease. A disease that deserves attention and — more research.
The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced its endorsement of $3 million toward multiple studies researching the effects of CBD as an alternative to traditional medicine. Funded by the NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), the research will not examine tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or medical marijuana, instead — studies on CBD.
If you or someone you know is interested in trying alternative medicine to support symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease, consider Smilyn CBD. And as with every therapy, be sure to consult with your doctor first.