There are about 20 distinct kinds of tremors that range from mild to disabling.
They can be classified as either a resting tremor or an action tremor. A resting tremor occurs in relaxed muscles and often affects only the fingers and hands.
Most tremors are action tremors that occur when a muscle is voluntarily moved.
Patients with tremors receive treatment to help manage symptoms, since most types of tremor have no cure. In this article, we will explore some of the research supporting the use of cannabis-based medicines for alleviating tremors and other movement disorders.
Cannabis Oil for Tremors
Patients who treat their tremors with cannabis oil may see improved motor coordination, but the research is still inconclusive on the effect cannabis has on tremors.
Cannabis has been observed to improve other movement disorders such as spasticity, and treatment plans involving marijuana for tremors hold a lot of promise.
A tremor is an involuntary and rhythmic muscle contraction that causes shaking in one or more parts of the body. They can occur constantly or intermittently.
Tremors are considered a movement disorder that may happen sporadically or because of another disorder.
Hands are most commonly affected by tremors, but the disorder can also affect patients’ arms, legs, torso, head and vocal cords.
Another movement disorder is spasticity, a condition where specific muscles remain contracted.
The constant contraction can lead to muscle tightness and can impede normal movement, speech and gait.
Spasticity is typically caused by damage to the area of the brain or the spinal cord that controls voluntary movement. Spasticity has a negative effect on joints and muscles of the extremities.
Movement disorders can occur on their own but are more often symptoms of a neurological disorder, such as:
- multiple sclerosis,
- traumatic brain injury and
- neurodegenerative diseases, like Parkinson’s disease.
Cannabis is a medicinal plant that contains chemical compounds called cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, and aromatic compounds called terpenes, both of which have medicinal properties.
Cannabis produces flowers that are dried, trimmed and cured to make buds. Dried buds can be smoked or vaped.
The flowers can also be turned into medicinal oils that can be ingested or taken under the tongue.
Cannabis oil is a concentrated form of marijuana that combines concentrated, decarboxylated cannabinoids with a liquid oil carrier.
Cannabis oil can be more potent than dry cannabis flowers. It can also be administered through a capsule, a vaping cartridge or in edibles. Licensed providers provide high-quality oils to medical patients in Canada.
Does THC Help Tremors?
THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) has research-backed effects for the following conditions: acute psychosocial stress, anorexia, anxiety, asthma and other breathing difficulties, Crohn’s disease, glaucoma, Huntington’s disease, nausea, pain, PTSD, Tourette syndrome and multiple sclerosis.
Patients disabled by tremors and ataxia have been observed to have improved motor coordination when they took oral doses of THC (Clifford 1983) and when smoking a marijuana cigarette (Meinck 1989).
Spasticity, a movement disorder related to tremors, is also improved by THC.
In another clinical research study, researchers orally administered THC to patients with spasticity and central nervous system lesions. They found that 10 mg of THC significantly reduced patients’ spasticity, especially for patients with tonic or continuous spasms (Petro 1981).
While these findings did not focus on how THC helps tremors specifically, they did observe improvements in motor coordination and spasticity.
Does CBD Help Tremors?
Research is promising but somewhat inconclusive as to the degree to which CBD helps tremors and other movement disorders.
Studies examining the effects of cannabis on movement disorders have not isolated the effects of this CBD from other pharmacological components of cannabis.
CBD for Parkinson’s Tremors
Parkinson’s is a disease of the central nervous system associated with progressive degeneration of the basal ganglia region of the brain and a deficiency of dopamine. The disease is marked by stiffness and tremors.
In a clinical trial on patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD), researchers assessed the clinical effect cannabis had on motor and non-motor symptoms of the disease.
Twenty-two PD patients smoked cannabis and were evaluated 30 minutes later. Researchers found significant improvement in the patients’ tremors, sleep quality and pain scores (I. Loran et. al 2014).
This study involved the whole cannabis plant and not just CBD, but other studies have looked at the effects of just CBD on motor symptom scores in addition to other effects like neuroprotective outcomes and quality of life measures.
One 2014 study looked at the effects of 75/mg a day of CBD on 7 Parkinson’s disease patients and 300/mg per day on 7 more PD patients. An additional group of 7 PD patients were given a placebo.
The researchers concluded that there were no statistical differences in the motor symptom scores between the three groups, suggesting that cannabis oil for tremors may not be effective without THC. The researchers also stated that larger samples were needed to verify the findings (Chagas 2014).
Some researchers believe that the known neuroprotective characteristics of CBD may prove to be an effective therapy to stem the progression of the disease due to a combination of CBD’s anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties (Fernandez-Ruiz et. al 2013).
CBD for Spasticity
Patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and other neurological disorder often have symptoms relating to spasticity that are difficult to treat.
Researchers attempted to treat spasticity in a 2007 double-blind, placebo controlled clinical study with whole plant cannabis-based medicine.
At the end of six weeks, forty percent of patients in the group that received cannabis showed improved spasticity by at least thirty percent (Collin 2007).
Researchers found that cannabis-based medicine may prove to be a promising new treatment for the symptomatic relief of spasticity in patients with MS. The degree of CBD’s effect on spasticity is uncertain though, since this study included THC and other cannabinoids in the active preparation.
A health care practitioner specializing in cannabis-based medicine will prescribe a CBD and THC rich cannabis oil for tremors as the two cannabinoids appear to work together in improving movement disorders.
If you are uncertain what the ratio of THC and CBD should be for treating tremors, spasticity or other movement issues, set up an appointment with a health care practitioner.
Medical marijuana appears to help tremors and other motor symptoms associated with neurological disorders, but more large-scale studies are needed.
THC, CBD and whole plant cannabis-based medicine have been shown to improve spasticity and motor coordination for patients with MS and Parkinson’s.
Patients interested in cannabis oil for tremors can consult a health care practitioner licensed to prescribe cannabis. This is the person most qualified to match patients with the strains and dosage best suited for their specific needs.
- Chagas, Marcos Hortes N., Antonio W. Zuardi, Vitor Tumas, Márcio Alexandre Pena-Pereira, Emmanuelle T. Sobreira, Mateus M. Bergamaschi, Antonio Carlos dos Santos, Antonio Lucio Teixeira, Jaime EC Hallak, and José Alexandre S. Crippa. “Effects of cannabidiol in the treatment of patients with Parkinson’s disease: an exploratory double-blind trial.” Journal of Psychopharmacology 28, no. 11 (2014): 1088-1098.
- Clifford, David B. “Tetrahydrocannabinol for tremor in multiple sclerosis.” Annals of Neurology: Official Journal of the American Neurological Association and the Child Neurology Society 13, no. 6 (1983): 669-671.
- Collin, C., P. Davies, I. K. Mutiboko, S. Ratcliffe, and Sativex Spasticity in MS Study Group. “Randomized controlled trial of cannabis‐based medicine in spasticity caused by multiple sclerosis.” European Journal of Neurology 14, no. 3 (2007): 290-296.
- Fernández‐Ruiz, Javier, Onintza Sagredo, M. Ruth Pazos, Concepción García, Roger Pertwee, Raphael Mechoulam, and José Martínez‐Orgado. “Cannabidiol for neurodegenerative disorders: important new clinical applications for this phytocannabinoid?.” British journal of clinical pharmacology 75, no. 2 (2013): 323-333.
- Lotan, Itay, Therese A. Treves, Yaniv Roditi, and Ruth Djaldetti. “Cannabis (medical marijuana) treatment for motor and non–motor symptoms of Parkinson disease: An open-label observational study.” Clinical neuropharmacology 37, no. 2 (2014): 41-44.
- Meinck, H-M., P. W. Schönle, and B. Conrad. “Effect of cannabinoids on spasticity and ataxia in multiple sclerosis.” Journal of neurology 236, no. 2 (1989): 120-122.
- PETRO, DENIS J., and C. A. R. L. Ellenberger. “Treatment of Human Spasticity with Δ9‐Tetrahydrocannabinol.” The Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 21, no. S1 (1981).
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