Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurological disorder that affects one’s nervous stem, with the average age on onset at 60 years old. Simply stated, brain cells that produce the neurotransmitter, dopamine, which are responsible for transmitting messages to the body in relation to movement, become damaged and die. This results in a variety of movement issues, which may include tremors, lack of facial expression, difficulty balancing, and stiffness of muscles. In addition, PD may develop into Parkinson’s disease dementia (PDD), which impacts one’s cognitive functioning, such as the ability to remember things, make good decisions, and pay attention.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a natural compound found in cannabis plants. These compounds are known as cannabinoids. Cannabis has several hundred of these compounds, though only a few are well known and widely studied.
Research suggests CBD may help reduce anxiety, relieve pain, and offer neuroprotective properties.
Potential brain and nervous system benefits have garnered a lot of attention in recent years, especially for people with neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease (PD).
Scientists at the University of Louisville School of Medicine in Kentucky have identified a previously unknown molecular target of cannabidiol (CBD), which may have significant therapeutic implications for Parkinson’s Disease (PD).
A poster by Zhao-Hui Song and Alyssa S. Laun at the 2017 meeting of the International Cannabinoid Research Society in Montreal disclosed that CBD activates a G-coupled protein receptor called “GPR6” that is highly expressed in the basal ganglia region of the brain. GPR6 is considered an “orphan receptor” because researchers have yet to find the primary endogenous compound that binds to this receptor.
It has been shown that a depletion of GPR6 causes an increase of dopamine, a critical neurotransmitter, in the brain. This finding suggests GPR6 could have a role in the treatment of Parkinson’s, a chronic, neurodegenerative disease that entails the progressive loss of dopaminergic (dopamine-producing) neurons and consequent impairment of motor control. By acting as an “inverse agonist” at the GPR6 receptor, CBD boosts dopamine levels in preclinical studies.
Parkinson’s affects an estimated 10 million people worldwide, including one million Americans. It is the second most common neurological disorder (after Alzheimer’s Disease). Over 96 percent of those diagnosed with PD are over 50 years old with men being one-and-a-half times more likely to have PDthan women. Uncontrolled PD significantly reduces the patient’s quality of life and can render a person unable to care for themselves, trapped in a body they cannot control.