Can cannabidiol (CBD) treat Parkinson’s symptoms?

In a world first clinical trial, researchers are testing whether cannabidiol (CBD) can treat Parkinson’s psychosis symptoms.

What's CBD?

CBD is a compound found in the cannabis plant. Unlike another component, THC, CBD is non-addictive and doesn’t cause intoxication. This makes this research even more exciting as the existing information we have on CBD suggests it has no side effects.

Hallucinations and delusions 

Around 75% of people with Parkinson's experience hallucinations and delusions and it can be distressing. This could include seeing people, hearing noises, or feeling the sensation of something that isn't there. 

Charles was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2009 and began to experience hallucinations in 2015. 

Charles said of his experience: 

"I began to see people and pet dogs. I saw my wife Michele - she died in 2009 around the time when I started to notice mild Parkinson's symptoms. Whenever she appeared and I reached out to touch her, she disappeared leaving behind a smile a bit like the Cheshire Cat"

How can cannabidiol affect Parkinson’s symptoms

Current treatments for hallucinations or delusions work by blocking dopamine receptors in the brain, which can make other symptoms of Parkinson’s, such as a tremor, worse. What's exciting about cannabidiol is that it seems to act in a different way without causing any other side effects. However, the clinical trial will determine how accurate this is for people with Parkinson's. 

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What's next?

Professor Sagnik Bhattacharyya and Dr Latha Velayudhan at King's College London are testing whether CBD can treat symptoms of hallucinations and delusions. They’re aiming to find out how safe the drug is, if it does have any side effects, the best way to administer the drug and the ideal dosage.

Stage 1 of the project is already complete. This means that the researchers have now established that the synthetic CBD they are using is safe, and how much people should be taking. 

They're now ready to move onto stage 2. This will test how well this dose of CBD can reduce symptoms of psychosis. To do this, they need 120 people with Parkinson's who experience these symptoms to take part.

Find out how you can take part on our Take Part Hub 

Charles says: 

"Some people with Parkinson's have very distressing hallucinations and it can have a negative impact on their lives. It's not a cure but there are signs that CBD could help a lot of people with the effects of Parkinson's symptoms and the side effects of the drugs they are prescribed" 

This project could have a huge impact on quality of life for Charles and people with Parkinson's living with hallucinations and delusions. Now you can be part of accelerating research breakthroughs. 

“My hopes for the CBD trial is that it can help people with neurological disorders cope better with their symptoms and improve their quality of life."

- Charles