Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is well known for helping people with conditions that feature tremors as one of their symptoms, such as Parkinson’s disease. But there is one condition that has been largely overlooked—until now.
It may not be a life-threatening condition, but essential tremor (ET) affects a large proportion of the population. The exact number of sufferers is difficult to pinpoint, but reports estimate 2.2%–3% of Americans have ET, making it at least eight times more prevalent than Parkinson’s.
Essential tremor is characterized by involuntary shaking of body parts, but is not associated with Parkinson’s disease. Most often ET will manifest as shaking of the hands when performing manual tasks, such as tying your shoes or drinking from a glass. Essential tremor can also affect the head, voice, and legs.
One of the issues with finding an effective treatment for ET is that its origins are not well understood. There is thought to be an element of genetic predisposition, with 50% of essential tremor sufferers having inherited it from a parent. However, where the hereditary trait lies within the genes, and how it manifests itself is still a mystery.
There is no specific test which can be used to diagnose essential tremor, so a diagnosis is based on a review of the reported symptoms which can often be confused for Parkinson’s disease. Because of this, there is no cure, nor any preventative treatment available for ET, leading many to self-treat with more natural products like CBD oil.
At this point in time, all that is currently known about CBD oil and ET is based on anecdotal evidence. Some people report having improved symptoms when using cannabis or CBD oil, with the frequency and intensity of their tremors noticeably reduced.
This prompted a team at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) to undertake a targeted study on the use of CBD oil to help ET. The trial took place in 2019 and aimed to understand whether cannabinoids such as CBD can be used in a medical setting to provide relief to people who suffer from essential tremor.
Based on other research that has been conducted on similar conditions, CBD may possess the therapeutic properties that ET patients seek.
The effects that CBD oil has on reducing muscle spasticity have been widely reported and accepted. Recently, CBD oil was approved as a medical treatment for spasms related to multiple sclerosis (MS) under the brand name Sativex in places like the U.K. and Canada.
Muscles contract when chemical messengers are sent to muscle tissue by the central nervous system. If an excess amount of these messengers are released and flood the muscle tissue, the area is forced to continuously contract, leading to twitching, tremors, and tightness. CBD oil has been shown to restrain the release of these messengers, allowing the muscles to relax.
While at first glance it may seem like the link between CBD oil’s relaxing effects and ET is a tenuous one, the biological properties of CBD suggest a significant potential for benefit. In addition to reducing spasticity, an additional way that CBD oil can relax muscles is through its reduction of anxiety and promotion of general relaxation. CBD oil is able to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol and induces higher levels of the feel-good hormone dopamine.
Not only can CBD help your muscles relax from a neurological point of view, but the cannabis plant also contains two anti-inflammatory substances that have been shown to act as muscle relaxants: Delta-limonene and Beta-myrcene.
With this evidence in mind, the likelihood that CBD oil can help those who suffer from ET looks positive. This then begs the question, why hasn’t CBD and ET research been conducted sooner?
The red tape surrounding the use of CBD in clinical research has long been an issue for scientists across the U.S., with the clinical trial at UCSD being no exception. Despite many states, including California, having relaxed laws on the use of cannabis for medical and recreational purposes, federal law takes a much harsher stance.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) considers any derivative of cannabis to be an illegal substance and requires universities and research facilities to obtain cannabis products through the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). And getting materials from the NIDA is a notoriously slow process.
To complicate the matter further, the researchers on the UCSD study wanted to use CBD capsules, which aren’t available through the NIDA. In order for the trial to have been given the green light, permissions had to be sought to import CBD capsules from Canada, where medical marijuana is federally legal.
While the results from the trial at UCSD aren’t available yet, if you are struggling to carry out daily tasks due to ET, CBD oil may be an option worth exploring based on its beneficial biological properties.
There are two main cannabinoids found in cannabis: CBD and THC. Both work differently within the body’s endocannabinoid system to yield different health benefits and ideally, you’d take both by way of a full-spectrum product. A full-spectrum CBD oil is also more likely to contain limonene and myrcene, allowing you to experience the muscle relaxing properties of all the hemp plant’s natural compounds at an amplified level, thanks to the entourage effect. The entourage effect refers to the fact that substances in the whole hemp plant produce stronger effects when they are present together than they do on their own.
But, before buying a CBD oil product that contains THC, make sure you understand whether or not it is legal for you to do so. A full-spectrum CBD product with a higher THC content is only going to be available to people who live in a state with access to medical or recreational cannabis products. Everywhere else, CBD oil will fall under the federal guidelines, and must have a THC content that is 0.3% or less. If you live in a state where it’s illegal to consume THC, or you’d simply prefer not to consume it, look for a broad-spectrum CBD product. Broad-spectrum CBD oils contain all of the cannabinoids and terpenes of a full-spectrum product except for THC.
There are lots of different CBD oil delivery formats available. Most people will choose a product based on their unique needs.
For many people with ET, a supplement routine that includes daily doses of CBD oil tinctures, capsules, or edibles is likely to be most effective. This will ensure that CBD is always in the system and working to create equilibrium over longer periods of time.
CBD capsules and edibles will provide the longest lasting relief, typically 4 to 6 hours, but will also take the longest to take effect. Due to the fact that they have to pass through the digestive system, it could take up to an hour for you to feel the benefits of a CBD edible or capsule.
For the sudden onset of tremors, an inhalant, like a CBD vape or CBD flower may be best. In these formats, the CBD is absorbed through the lungs, showing effects in a matter of minutes. When struck with debilitating tremors, time is of the essence. The only drawbacks of using an inhaled CBD product is that the effects are typically gone within an hour, and it is not always appropriate or convenient to vape or smoke.
CBD oil drops or tinctures may provide the best, most balanced solution. This format can easily be used as a daily supplement and the bottles are portable and discreet enough to be used for the sudden onset of symptoms. The effects do not appear as quickly as with CBD vapes or flower, but they typically occur within a half hour and can last anywhere from 2 to 4 hours. This format also makes it easy to control dosage and take more or less CBD oil as required. It is worth noting, however, that if tremors are severe enough, tinctures and drops may be complicated to administer on your own.
For more detailed information on delivery formats, check out our beginner’s guide here.
Before you start taking CBD oil for ET, it is important to talk to your doctor. While CBD oil has very few side effects and is generally safe for use, it can interact with some common medications, so it is best to make sure that you are able to use CBD oil safely and effectively.
Unfortunately, there is no single dose that will work for essential tremor. What works for one person may not work for another. Start slowly with the lowest recommended dose listed on your CBD product. Once you get an idea of how you respond to CBD oil, you can adjust the dosage from there.
If you’re looking for a quick point of reference, at CBD Oil Review, we have analyzed hundreds of products and have come up with the following:
The CBD Oil Review Serving Standard is 25 mg of CBD, taken twice daily.
If this amount does not produce the results you were looking for, increase the dose by 25 mg every 3 to 4 weeks until the desired effects are achieved.
If you are afflicted with ET and want to try treating it with CBD oil, there are a variety of products available that can be purchased easily, and legally, in most states. The best CBD oil to use for ET is one which is high quality and rigorously tested.
For that reason, it is recommended that you choose a brand which uses organically grown, sustainably sourced hemp to ensure that your CBD oil is free of harmful pesticides, fertilizers, and herbicides. Also, look for those that have a readily accessible Certificate of Analysis (COA), which will indicate that the products have been tested for heavy metals and other contaminants. A COA is most reliable if it has been produced by a third-party laboratory, as this removes any likelihood of bias in the results.
Learn more about how to choose the best CBD oil for you with these 7 tips for buying CBD oil.
If you are unhappy with the management of your ET, or feel that your daily life is becoming restricted by it, CBD oil may provide an alternative and effective treatment option.
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