CBD Improving Sleep in Parkinson’s?
Four Parkinson’s disease sufferers with REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) were the subjects of the 6-week study. RBD manifests as nightmares and involuntary active behavior while dreaming, including talking, shouting, and complex movements. The disorder occurs frequently in PD patients but heretofore has been difficult to treat.
The researchers reported that daily CBD treatment resulted in “prompt and substantial reduction in the frequency of RBD-related events without side effects” in all four patients. Discontinuation of CBD administration caused symptoms to return with the same intensity and frequency. Published in May 2014 as a series of case summaries in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics, the study was jointly conducted by investigators from the University of Sao Paulo and the University of Minnesota Medical School.
Three of the patients received 75 mg of CBD per day, while one received 300 mg per day. Little is known about the mechanism of action of CBD in sleep disorders, but the researchers hypothesized that the effects observed in the study may be due to its anticholinergic activity. The authors stated: “Several studies have shown that CBD has a broad spectrum of action that includes hypnotic, antipsychotic, anxiolytic and neuroprotective properties.”
Due to the limited number of study subjects, the investigators concluded that further research is needed to confirm their findings that CBD may have “beneficial effects” as a treatment for RBD in PD patients.
In 2009, the same group of University of Sao Paulo investigators conducted a ground-breaking study using CBD and found that it could improve symptoms of psychosis in Parkinson’s sufferers. Based on the previously suggested hypothesis that CBD has antipsychotic and neuroprotective effects, the study was the first to evaluate the efficacy, tolerability and safety of CBD on Parkinson’s patients with psychotic symptoms.
In another study reported in the March/April 2014 edition of the journal Clinical Neuropharmacology, significant improvement in tremor, rigidity and bradykinesia occurred after patients inhaled whole-plant cannabis. A secondary finding in this study was significant improvement in sleep and pain scores.
More and more, the symptomatic relief experienced by PD patients in studies utilizing cannabis in all its forms suggests that it might become an effective therapeutic agent, especially with its favorable side-effect profile.