Huntington's Disease & CBD Oil: Possible Neuroprotection & Motor Control
Huntington’s disease is a progressive brain disorder, inherited at birth, with no known cure. Symptoms usually appear when patients reach middle-age and show many similarities to that of Parkinson’s, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and Alzheimer’s. Only with Huntington's, these symptoms often happen all at once.
Patients suffering from this disease gradually lose control of their body and minds as parts of the brain degenerate. Uncontrolled body movements, muscle spasms, and fits of uncontrolled rage are common. As the disease progresses, patients may become immobile and oftentimes lose the ability to even eat.
With no way of stopping the disease, the best that sufferers can do is manage their symptoms to improve their quality of life. Medications are available to treat some of the symptoms but they typically come with many unwanted side effects.
Due to complications associated with these medications, patients often seek alternative options. One option that is beginning to show some promise for managing Huntington’s disease symptoms is CBD oil.
Benefits of CBD Oil for Huntington's Disease
While no cure is available for Huntington’s disease, there are many medications that treat its various symptoms.
Medications such as Tetrabenazine, Haloperidol, and Clonazepam are available to treat the movement disorders associated with Huntington’s. Unfortunately, they come with the risk of triggering psychiatric conditions such as depression, and may even make symptoms like muscle rigidity and involuntary movements worse.
For the mental symptoms of Huntington’s disease, antidepressants, antipsychotics, and mood stabilizers are often prescribed. These, too, aren’t without their side effects. Nausea, diarrhea, and the chance of making movement disorders worse are all possible side effects.
In contrast to the many side effects that these medications may produce, CBD oil offers potential relief with relatively few negatives. According to The World Health Organization (WHO), “CBD is generally well tolerated with a good safety profile” and “no public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”
But, as with any medication or treatment, it’s important you do your research and speak to your doctor before adding CBD oil to your wellness regimen. Certain medications you may be taking to manage the symptoms of Huntington’s disease, like antidepressants, can interact with cannabidiol (CBD). To avoid potential complications, it’s imperative that you consult with your doctor ahead of time.
Effectiveness of CBD Oil for Huntington's Disease
CBD oil has shown much potential in treating the various symptoms associated with Huntington’s disease.
For example, CBD oil has antidepressant properties, which could potentially help reduce the severity of depression that accompanies this disease. CBD oil has also been found to be an effective anticonvulsant, so it may be able to help reduce the occurrence of uncontrolled body movement. There’s extensive research being done on CBD’s ability to help people with movement disorders like Parkinson’s and dyskinesia, but when it comes to Huntington’s disease, studies tend to combine CBD with other cannabinoids like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
One study, published in the Journal of Huntington’s Disease, monitored seven patients suffering in the early stages of Huntington’s disease. The study found that those who consumed cannabinoids enjoyed noticeable improvements in their motor symptoms, as a result of calming their dystonia, or involuntary muscle contractions. The researchers also noticed, “less irritability and apathy” in the patients, a promising sign of cannabis’ potential to address Huntington’s symptoms that are both physical and mental.
Another study, conducted in 2017, examined the effects of a 1:1 ratio of CBD:THC on a model of Huntington’s disease in mice test subjects. Huntington’s and other movement disorders have been linked to decreased metabolic function in the basal ganglia and deterioration of the striatum, which are the parts of the brain responsible for smooth and voluntary bodily movements. In the study, the combined CBD and THC were shown to reduce the decrease in metabolic activity at the basal ganglia, and even reversed some of the neurodegenerative effects of Huntington’s. In the end, the study concludes, “A…combination of phytocannabinoids administered to…mice at the onset of motor symptoms produced certain benefits on the progression of striatal deterioration in these mice, which supports the interest of this cannabinoid-based medicine for the treatment of disease progression in HD [Huntington’s disease] patients.”
CBD and other cannabinoids’ neuroprotective properties, especially as they pertain to neurodegenerative diseases like Huntington’s, were studied in Spain in 2011. In the study, researchers found that cannabis-based medications like Sativex (containing both THC and CBD) were effective at slowing the progression of Huntington’s disease in mice by exerting neuroprotective properties.
While the results of the studies so far are promising, much more research and clinical trials on humans are needed to conclusively say whether CBD, or a CBD-THC hybrid, is a viable treatment for Huntington’s.
How to Use CBD Oil for Huntington's Disease
If you decide to try using CBD oil to manage the symptoms of Huntington’s disease, there are a variety of different ways you can take it. Some options available include vaporizers, edibles, CBD oil drops or tinctures, and capsules.
Depending on how far Huntington’s disease has progressed, some of these options may be off the table. Patients with motor impairment, or who have trouble eating will likely find CBD oil capsules preferable to gummies, drops, or vaporizers. CBD capsules are especially easy to take alongside other medications, and can be incorporated into your daily wellness routine.
One thing to keep in mind is that each CBD delivery format has a slightly different time of onset. CBD oil edibles and capsules, for example, must pass through the digestive system, which means you may not feel their effects for an hour or so.
Vaped CBD oil is absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the lungs, and goes to work within minutes. If this is an accessible method of administration for you, a CBD vape could be great for on-the-go and on-the-spot relief from sudden onset of symptoms like dystonia or muscle contractions. The only downside to CBD vapes is the effects typically wear off within an hour.
CBD oil drops and tinctures provide a nice middle-of-the-road option: they are also absorbed quickly, typically within 30 minutes, and their effects last 2 to 4 hours. Placed under the tongue, the CBD is absorbed through the thin skin of the mouth. Though, if you’re experiencing severe motor symptoms, administering CBD drops or tinctures could present a challenge if someone isn’t there to help.
A final aspect to consider when choosing your CBD product is the research that has been done, and the results that have been obtained using a mix of CBD and THC. The effects of cannabidiol and THC together may prove more beneficial than using CBD on its own. For this reason, you may want to consider a full-spectrum product, which is made from an extract containing all of the cannabis plant’s cannabinoids, including CBD and THC. The one precaution to take here is to verify it’s legal for you to purchase a product containing THC.
CBD Oil Dosage for Huntington’s Disease
While there is no single CBD dose that works for everyone, reading the instructions and following the recommended dosage on the product at hand is a good start.
We at CBD Oil Review have reviewed hundreds of different CBD products, and come up with the following suggestion to get you started:
The CBD Oil Review Serving Standard is 25mg of CBD, taken twice daily
If you find no relief at this dose, increase the dose in 25 mg increments every 3 to 4 weeks.
The delivery formats that allow for the easiest increase (or decrease) in dosage are CBD oil drops and tinctures. You can adjust the number of milligrams of cannabidiol you’re ingesting down to the literal drop! CBD oil capsules come in set concentrations, and can provide you with your ideal dose of CBD on a consistent basis.
It is important to remember that there is no official standard dosage for CBD oil, and what works for one person may not work for another. For more detailed information about CBD dosing and tips for getting it right, check our dosing guide. You might also consider speaking with a naturopathic doctor who can provide the most personalized dosage and CBD action plan for your needs.
While CBD oil has shown great potential in treating the various symptoms of Huntington’s disease, it is not a cure and there’s no guarantee that it is going to work for everyone. But, with few side effects, CBD oil is starting to look like a great addition to current treatment options.
If prescription medication isn’t working or the side effects are becoming more trouble than they’re worth, consider giving CBD oil a try.
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