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CBD or Cannabidiol has been found to be beneficial in the treatment and management of many diseases. Presently big pharmaceutical companies are conducting trials to determine the full medical potential of CBD. As, the popularity of CBD’s beneficial effects is rising, it is likely that there is going to be more clinical trials for its use. One of the diseases which are under trials for CBD use is Parkinson’s disease (PD).

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder which is the most common neurodegenerative disorder affecting people above the age of 60.

Following are the common symptoms of Parkinson’s:

  • Shaking & rigidity
  • Slowness in the movement
  • Difficulty in walking
  • Cognitive problems
  • Emotional disturbance
  • Sleeping disorders

It is a long term degenerative disease which develops in an individual over several years. Based on the symptoms of the disease it can be divided into five different stages:

Stage 1: In this first stage of the disease the symptoms are mild and affect only one side of the body. Intermittent tremor and rigidity may start at one hand or leg and it is difficult to make a diagnosis at this stage. The patient may not even consult a doctor for it.

Stage 2: It may start after a few months or years after stage 1. The symptoms now start to affect both sides of the body. Loss of facial expression, speech abnormalities, decreased blinking, Stiffness of the muscles, stooped posture and slowness in movement are the symptoms of stage 2 of PD.

Stage 3: Stage 3 is marked by slowness in movement and loss of balance. All the symptoms of the other stages are also present at this stage and diagnosis of PD is almost clear at stage 3. The patient at stage 3 is still independently able to go about his day to day activities.

Stage 4: PD now has become severe and the patient has to take assistance for some of his daily activities.

Stage 5: At stage 5 the disease has progressed to a serious form and is marked by inability to get out bed or rise from chair. Hallucinations are also common at this stage.

Mechanism behind the disease:

The cause of the disease is still unknown though the ideas of it being the result of head injuries, exposure to pesticides and genes inheritance have been suggested. The nerve cells in the disease are first observed to function abnormally and later get destroyed.

A specific part the brain is affected in the case of PD patients. That part is known as Substantia Nigra. Substantia Nigra is responsible for the production of a very important neurotransmitter called dopamine. This neurotransmitter has the role of enabling communication between nerve cells.

Dopamine is used by the brain to send neural signals through 5 pathways which controls the motor movements of the body. PD affects all these pathways as it hampers the functioning of Substantia Nigra leading to non production of Dopamine. As a result of this, the motor functions starts to get affected.

The debilitating disease which is so common still has no cure but with CBD there is some optimism in its treatment.

Use of CBD in Parkinson’s treatment:

The marijuana plant has almost 80 different compounds. Yes, CBD is derived from marijuana but no it has no psychoactive properties.  The psychoactive property is possessed by THC which is used by weed smokers to get high. CBD in contrast to THC has no psychoactive effects but has shown promising results in the treatment of many diseases.

Our body is regulated by Endocannabinoids and their receptors which are present in the brain, organs, connective tissues and immune cells. Endocannabinoids and their receptors have complex functions with the neurons. Among its various functions, the Endocannabinoid system (ECS) also controls the life span of the cells. ECS’s this function may provide clues to save the loss of neurons in Parkinson’s disease. Thus, ECS may be used for its neuroprotective role in degenerative diseases of the nervous system like Parkinson’s disease.

The Substantia Nigra has a high density of CB1 and CB2 receptors. Endocannabinoid production can be increased by CBD through activation of these CB1 and CB2 receptors. This further leads to increased neuroprotective effects.

CBD is very poorly bounded to the endocannabinoid receptors but its medical workings stems from the interaction between non-ECS receptors.  On the other hand THC which perfectly binds to CB1 receptors showed the opposite effect, leading to worsening of the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

In the case of Parkinson’s disease, CBD reduces the oxidative stress promising the reduction of the negative effects of the disease because of its strong antioxidant properties. CBD’s antioxidant properties also enable it to treat Parkinson’s without having to interact with the Endocannabinoid receptors.

Results of Clinical trials

  • In the clinical trial, the therapeutic effects of CBD (Conducted by Benzi Kluger, Piera Triolo, Wallace Jones and Joseph Jankovic) for reduction of the tics and tremors caused by Parkinson’s or Dyskinesia were confirmed.
  • Cannabinoid in a 2001 studies were also shown to reduce Levodopa-induced Dyskinesia in Parkinson. This was the impact of a cannabinoid receptor agonist known as Nabilone.
  • A 2014 clinical trial in Brazil was conducted on 119 patients suffering from specialized movement disorders. From these 119 patients, 21 patients suffering from Parkinson’s (Without dementia) were selected and were further divided into 3 groups. Each group had 7 members. To different groups a placebo, 75mg/day of CBD or 300mg/day of CBD was administered. The results of this study showed a major improvement in the motor movements without any psychological side effects. This trial helped to understand the effects of CBD on the symptoms of Parkinson’s.

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