Cannabidiol Anti-Tremor Action & Mechanisms – Conclusion

Principle Investigator: Adrian Handforth, MD

Cannabis, also known as marijuana, has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. However, by federal law, the possession of cannabis is illegal in the United States, except within approved research settings; however, a growing number of states, territories, and the District of Columbia have enacted laws to legalize its medical use.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved cannabis as a treatment for any medical condition. However, the chemical components in cannabis are being studied. It is well known that certain chemicals in cannabis activate specific receptors throughout the body and these chemicals may be useful in treating neurological conditions, like ET. In this study, Dr. Handforth is looking at a specific chemical called Cannabidiol. Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of at least 113 active chemicals (also known as cannabinoids) identified in cannabis. However, CBD does not produce any intoxicating effects or alteration in mood. For years it was thought to be a benign and unimportant part of the plant. Now it is being investigated as a possible treatment option for ET.

In this study, Dr. Handforth aimed to show CBD can suppress tremor in animal models. If successful, it would offer justification for further study of CBD in humans. First, the study had to determine what effects CBD would have on mice impacted with harmaline–induced tremor. Then, if reduced, the team had to discover how CBD suppressed the tremor.

Testing a variety of doses, Dr. Handforth was able to note a robust suppression of tremor in the mice given CBD, without the animals showing any signs of impairment or sedation. Next, the team worked to discover what receptors in the brain might be involved in the noted effects. After looking at several options the information suggests that CBD activates the 5HT1a receptors to suppress tremor by activating the TRPV1 receptor.

Although the finding is clear with this model in mice, the extrapolation to human ET is tentative and would ultimately require validation in trials with the suggested therapies.  So the findings are only suggestive at this time.