Many people are aware of the visible motor symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease: loss of balance, rigid muscles, resting tremors, and slow movement. These affect almost one million sufferers of this debilitating disease in America today. There's more to Parkinson’s than you may know and perhaps CBD Cannabidiol can help.
Almost 50% of sufferers also experience anxiety, depression, hallucinations and delusions. For example, the belief their partner or carer is stealing money or somehow cheating on them is very real to the sufferer. These symptoms are devastating in themselves. They are much worse if they are in addition to the more common effects of the disease.
Parkinson’s Disease was not studied in depth until the medieval period (5th – 15th Centuries), by the Islamic philosopher Averroes.
However, the scientific study of Parkinson’s disease began much later with a paper called ‘Essay on the Shaking Palsy’, published by James Parkinson in 1817.
Parkinson’s is a degenerative disease that results in the loss of dopamine-producing, mid-brain cells. Dopamine is crucial in controlling muscle movement. When the dopamine cells die off, it results in the characteristic Parkinson’s symptoms – walking problems, shaking and stiffness.
What Are the Hidden Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease?
The precise cause of Parkinson’s disease psychosis (PDP) is unknown. It could be a natural result of the advancing disease as the patient gets older. However, it could be linked to the side-effects of the drugs used to treat Parkinson’s patients. These are used to control motor symptoms by increasing dopamine levels in the brain, significantly depressed by the progression of the illness.
Unfortunately, there is no way to forecast which patients will suffer from these additional symptoms, which include impulsive and compulsive behaviors, for example:
- Becoming a ‘shopaholic’.
This psychosis significantly affects the patient’s quality of life as well as the lives of their carers, partners, families and friends and can be devastating. (Source)
Can CBD (Cannabidiol) Help Parkinson's Disease Psychosis?
Until now there has been little research into the wide-ranging health benefits of CBD (Cannabidiol). This is due to high costs and the legal issues around cannabis in general.
There may be reluctance by the pharmaceutical industry to engage in such research. Cheaper, hemp-based products could displace existing high-cost, profitable medicines. Perhaps the status quo suits them better?
Things are moving as attitudes change to recognize the centuries-old benefits of hemp oil and CBD in the management of pain and a wide range of medical conditions.
Recent Research into CBD
In late 2017 The American Journal of Psychiatry reported the outcome of a trial involving 88 patients with schizophrenia, over a six week period. It reported – “CBD had tangible, beneficial effects on patients and it may become a new class of treatment for the disorder”. (Source)
In 2018 by King’s College University, London carried out research to look at the potential positive effects of CBD on patients with severe psychosis. The results showed how a single 600mg. A dose of CBD helped reduce brain function abnormalities in patients with psychosis. (Source) The small trial involved 33 individuals with psychotic symptoms. 16 had a single dose of CBD while the balance took a placebo.
The group took a memory task involving three different parts of the brain commonly linked to psychosis. The researchers monitored the testing using MRI scans. The results were irregular in those at high risk of psychosis compared to healthy brains. However, among those who took the CBD, the brain activity was less severe than those who had taken the placebo.
CBD Cannabidiol Research Announced for Early 2020
The health benefits of Cannabis and CBD, have been known for centuries and now, King’s College University, London has been awarded a £1.2m ($1.6m) grant from the Parkinson’s UK Foundation to evaluate its positive effect on Parkinson’s Disease psychosis.
World's Best Known Parkinson's Ambassador
Perhaps one of the best-known ambassadors for Parkinson’s disease is Michael J. Fox, the world-renowned actor, and author. He established The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research (MJFF), in 2000 following his public announcement he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at age 29 in 1991.
Researchers at King’s College, led by Professor Bhattacharyya, will begin studies into CBD Cannabidiol in early 2020 to research its possible use as a future treatment for Parkinson’s disease psychosis.
Today, the MJFF is the world's foremost, not-for-profit financier of Parkinson's drug research and development. Fox and the Foundation have driven the quest for a cure for Parkinson's disease. The New York Times called him "the most credible voice on Parkinson's research in the world."
Medical Marijuana Conference Denver CO
In March 2019 the Medical Marijuana in Parkinson’s Disease Conference in Denver CO. organized by the Parkinson’s Foundation, gathered patients, doctors, researchers and the wider industry to consider medical cannabis and CBD Cannabidiol and their possible benefits — and threats — to people with Parkinson’s. The primary purpose of the conference was to create direction for patients and physicians on its use and to formulate a research agenda going forward.
Authorities carry out strictly controlled, clinical trials before drugs gain approval for widespread use. However, patients are trying cannabis on an ad-hoc basis even though there is no clinical proof it works.
There is little literature to support using medical cannabis and there are serious concerns about its longer term effects on the brain.
Working to Remove Legal Restrictions on Cannabis
The MJFF is working hard to have legal restrictions eased around cannabis for medical research, which are inhibiting progress. Patients and their physicians have seen positive results from using medical cannabis, especially in areas such as anxiety, pain and sleep disruption, but evidence is anecdotal at best. There is little research to support the observed findings.
The conference will present a white paper in late 2019. The current position will be reviewed, and proposals identified going forward to undertake research in areas where none is currently available. This should establish how best to proceed.
More Data Needed to Focus Research on CBD Cannabidiol
There was positive agreement about the need to gather more data from patients about the cannabis products they’ve used, and the symptoms they eased. These statistics could provide insights into which specific symptoms to target in future clinical trials. To address this, MJFF is considering a survey on medical cannabis through their online study: Fox Insight.
As well as the survey, they are preparing a proposal to fund research into medical cannabis with a number of other partners in the field.
This is excellent news for Parkinson’s sufferers, because the interest generated may also open the way for further research studies into the holistic and medical benefits of the Cannabis plant in general and hemp-based CBD Cannabidiol in particular.
These are small, but vitally important forward steps for Parkinson’s sufferers.