How CBD Helps With Essential Tremors
Findings suggested that CBD may help with essential tremors by interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to help modulate the motor function and potentially reduce symptoms of movement disorders(1).
According to studies, the ECS helps maintain body homeostasis or balance and ensures that different internal systems work correctly.
The ECS has cannabinoid receptors that are found throughout the body. These receptors help modulate different daily bodily functions, such as immune response, pain sensation, and anxiety(2).
Among the different ECS receptors, the CB1 and CB2 receptors are the most common(3).
These two receptors primarily mediate the effects of endocannabinoids (cannabinoids produced by the body)(4). Endocannabinoids bind to the receptors to activate them and influence the body’s functionality(5).
Phytocannabinoids, such as CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), may also influence CB1 and CB2 receptors to trigger specific responses.
CB1 receptors are primarily found in the brain and central nervous system(6). These receptors are especially abundant in the hippocampus, cerebellum, and basal ganglia regions of the brain(7).
The cerebellum and basal ganglia are the areas of the brain that control motor function.
A 2015 review noted that CBD’s interaction with CB1 receptors in basal ganglia and cerebellum may have therapeutic potential in managing tremors and symptoms of movement disorders in patients(8).
Moreover, findings suggest that CB1 receptors may be associated with neuroprotective responses and may help treat or prevent neurodegenerative or neurological disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease(9).
Essential tremor, a neurological disorder, shares symptoms and characteristics with Parkinson’s disease.
Both conditions cause involuntary and rhythmic shaking of different body parts, differing only in the timing of the tremors and parts affected(10). Meanwhile, Parkinson’s disease patients also show symptoms of other health problems, such as psychosis(11).
Researchers from the University of California San Diego conducted studies on how an oral formulation of cannabis can help with common movement disorders(12).
With the study’s target completion date set for Dec 2020, the clinical trials started in January 2019(13). The authors examined how a 20:1 ratio of high CBD and low-dose THC may affect and potentially treat essential tremors in adults.
Dr. Fatta Nahab, the lead researcher and a neurologist at UC San Diego Health, notes that, if successful, the study may provide both new treatment options for essential tremor patients and new insights into the condition(14).
CB2 receptors, abundant in the immune system, affect immune cell functions. When activated, CB2 receptors trigger anti-inflammatory responses(15).
A study hypothesized that activated CB2 receptors’ anti-inflammatory effects may also help reduce inflammation and improve neuron survival in the brain(16). The study suggested that CB2 receptors may provide potential therapeutic relief for neurodegenerative illnesses.
Additionally, the results indicated that cannabinoids, like CBD and THC, may offer therapeutic relief for multiple sclerosis symptoms and improve the overall quality of life. Tremors are also a common symptom of multiple sclerosis.
Individual states have recognized the potential therapeutic benefits of medical cannabis and have programs that allow patients with multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, and other severe conditions to access medical marijuana(17).
Benefits of Using CBD for Essential Tremors
The use of CBD for essential tremors presents patients with a potential non-invasive treatment option for alleviating debilitating or severe cases.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), deep brain stimulation (DBS), used to treat essential tremors, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and other neurological movement disorders, is invasive.
DBS involves inserting an electrical probe into the part of the brain that causes tremors. The probe transmits electrical pulses to disrupt signals that may be causing the tremors(18).
Risks of Using CBD for Essential Tremors
Possible side effects of taking CBD may include dry mouth, reduced appetite, diarrhea, drowsiness or fatigue, and weight fluctuations(21).
Despite its legality and alleged therapeutic benefits, CBD is still a highly unregulated product. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is yet to approve of CBD as a treatment for any medical condition.
As of December 2020, the FDA has only approved one CBD-based medication, Epidiolex, to treat rare forms of epilepsy(22).
Moreover, the FDA cautions users that extremely high doses of CBD may cause liver damage(23).
CBD may also adversely interact with some drugs, such as blood pressure medications or blood thinners(24).
How Soon CBD’s Effects Can Be Felt After Taking It
Vaping or inhaling CBD is the fastest delivery method for CBD. Inhaling CBD lets the compound enter the bloodstream in as fast as 30 seconds or less, allowing for a faster onset or start of effect(25).
Bioavailability refers to the amount of the drug and the speed that it gets absorbed into the bloodstream.
Studies have noted that vaping may deliver peak CBD plasma concentrations in under 10 minutes(27). With this near-immediate onset or start of effects, some people feel the positive effects of CBD within seconds or a few minutes(28).
However, studies suggest that vaping may be linked to lung issues or respiratory complications(30).
In fact, both the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the FDA advise against vaping, especially THC-containing products, while safety investigations are underway(31).
People with essential tremors may also choose oral or sublingual (under the tongue) CBD administration.
It may take up to an hour before one can experience the effects of sublingual use of CBD(33). The effects may last six to eight hours(34).
It may take a couple of hours to feel the effects of orally ingested CBD on an empty stomach or up to three hours when taken with a meal(35).
The effects of CBD edibles, capsules, and orally ingested tinctures may be felt for about six to twelve hours(37). The extended duration of effects makes oral CBD ingestion ideal for people with chronic medical conditions.
How to Buy the Best CBD Oil for Essential Tremors
Terpenes are aromatic compounds that may provide additional relaxation and therapeutic benefits(38). Flavonoids are plant chemicals that may offer antioxidant and anti-inflammatory relief(39).
Together, these compounds produce the entourage effect, wherein they work together in synergy to magnify each others’ therapeutic benefits. Thus, users can take in all the purported benefits of CBD and other cannabinoids.
Broad-spectrum CBD products are ideal for essential tremors patients that are not comfortable with even trace amounts of THC yet still want to take advantage of the full range of phytocannabinoids and other compounds.
Researchers hypothesized that the cannabinoids and terpenes in broad-spectrum CBD may still trigger an entourage effect(40).
Here are other factors to consider when trying to buy the best CBD oil for essential tremors:
- Check the kind of ingredients used in the product. If possible, choose products whose ingredients are organic, all-natural, and non-GMO (genetically modified organism), particularly the hemp plants.
- Go for brands that are transparent about their hemp farming practices, CBD extraction process, and third-party lab testing.
- Always make sure the products have certificates of analysis (COAs) or lab test results to verify the CBD potency and cannabinoid content.
- The products should also be tested for harmful contaminants and toxins, such as residual solvents, pesticides, and heavy metals.
CBD Oil Dosage for Essential Tremors
CBD is not an FDA-approved medication. As such, there are no established or official dosage recommendations.
CBD oils and tinctures often come with graduated or marked droppers for ease of administration and accurate dosage measurement.
Individuals with essential tremors are advised to talk with a physician or neurologist knowledgeable on CBD use for a more precise dosage recommendation.
How to Take CBD Oil for Essential Tremors
Take note, though, that not all CBD oils and tinctures are safe for vaping. A study suggested that vaping CBD products with medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil may cause acute lung injury and inflammation(43).
Holding drops of CBD tinctures or oils under the tongue allows the blood vessels in the area to absorb CBD directly(45). This method allows for optimal absorption and a better bioavailability rate than CBD edibles(46).
The effect onset takes longer as the ingested CBD goes through the digestive system and gets metabolized in the liver. This process is known as “first-pass metabolism.”
CBD topicals are also available, although these products may be more suitable for targeted joint pain relief rather than essential tremors(48).
Legality of CBD
CBD was legalized by federal law when the United States passed the 2018 Farm Bill or the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018(49).
The legality of hemp and hemp-based CBD hinges on its THC content. As per the 2018 Farm Bill, Cannabis sativa plants are considered as industrial hemp and federally legal as long as they have no more than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis(51).
The 2018 Farm Bill also removed industrial hemp from the Schedule I drugs category(52). Schedule I drugs are substances with no approved medical use and a high potential for abuse(53).
Although CBD is no longer a Schedule I substance, it is still not an FDA-approved drug or supplement. The FDA has only approved one CBD-based medication, Epidiolex, for treating seizures caused by rare forms of epilepsy(54).
Additionally, the FDA regulations restrict the sale of any food or beverages with added CBD(55).
Meanwhile, New York abides by the FDA’s regulations and does not permit the sale of food products with CBD additives has similar restrictions. However, the state has recently proposed regulations to amend this rule(58).