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CBD Improves Quality of Life Measures in Parkinson’s Disease Patients, Trial Finds

A clinical trial found that daily cannabidiol (CBD) treatments significantly improved well-being and quality of life measures in patients diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

Cannabidiol (CBD) helps improve life quality in patients with Parkinson’s disease, according to a study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease characterized by the degeneration of dopaminergic neurons. Previous studies have suggested that CBD, one of the over 85 cannabinoids found in cannabis, interacts with the endocannabinoid system to potentially provide neuroprotective effects that inhibit the loss of neurons. Researchers have suggested that CBD could therefore be beneficial for limiting the progression of neurodegenerative diseases.

In this double-blind clinical trial, researchers from Brazil’s University of São Paulo examined the effects of CBD on 21 Parkinson’s disease patients without dementia or comorbid psychiatric conditions. The participants were split into three equal groups of seven. Over six weeks, one group was treated daily with a placebo, while the other two groups were given daily treatments of 75 mg CBD or 300 mg, respectively. One week before the trial and in the last week of treatment, all 21 participants were tested for motor and general symptoms, well-being and quality of life, and possible neuroprotective effects.

The researchers observed that the group receiving daily 300 mg CBD saw significant improvements in quality of life and well-being.

To measure well-being and quality of life, the researchers used the self-reported instrument, Parkinson’s Disease Questionnaire – 39 (PDQ-39), which examines mobility, activities of daily living, emotional well-being, stigma, social support, cognition, communication, and bodily discomfort.

“Quality of life is an important measure in clinical trials because it refers to a number of areas related to personal well-being,” the researchers concluded. “It is known that many therapies are able to improve the core symptoms of a given disease without corresponding improvements in quality of life.”

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The researchers found no significant differences in motor symptoms and neuroprotective effects between the three groups after six weeks. The study’s small sample, however, prevented them from making any definitive conclusions. They also noted that the lack of observable neuroprotective effects and motor symptom improvements might be related to an insufficient time period or that most participants were in the early stages of the disease and therefore had low baseline scores.

In the study’s discussion, the researchers did acknowledge that other studies have also shown CBD to improve emotional well-being and that many indicate that CBD serves as a neuroprotective agent by interacting with the endocannabinoid system to elicit anti-inflammation, reduce oxidative stress, attenuate glial cell activation, and normalize glutamate homeostasis.

“Nowadays, most drugs used in the treatment of [Parkinson’s disease] act in the dopaminergic system and little is known about the role of other neurotransmitter systems in the disease,” the study reads. “The endocannabinoid system seems to be an important target of investigation, mostly because of its action in those considered as the non-motor symptoms of [Parkinson’s disease and of reports of its possible neuroprotective effects.”

The researchers urged studies with larger sample sizes to more conclusive evidence of CBD’s quality-of-life benefits in patients with Parkinson’s.

The study, “Effects of cannabidiol in the treatment of patients with Parkinson’s disease: An exploratory double-blind trial,” is available to access via SAGE Journals.

Learn more about how cannabinoids like CBD may help in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders by visiting our education page. Keep up with the latest cannabis-related studies through our news feed.