Find out if CBD oil could be the solution to managing your essential tremor. We cover the current research and provide tips on buying the best products. Tremors are caused by conditions, such as neurodegenerative diseases, anxiety, and brain injury. Can CBD help with tremors, if so, how?
Essential Tremor & CBD Oil: A Landmark Clinical Trial & Buying Tips
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.
What Is Essential Tremor?
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.
How CBD Oil Can Help Essential Tremor
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.
CBD Oil for Muscle Spasticity
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.
CBD Oil as a Muscle Relaxant
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 Barriers to CBD Testing
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.
How to Use CBD oil for Essential Tremor
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.
CBD Delivery Formats
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.
CBD Oil Dosage for Essential Tremor
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.
You can find detailed CBD dosage information and tips here, or speak to a naturopathic doctor for the most personalized CBD dosage advice.
The Best CBD Oil for Essential Tremor
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.
- Elan D. Louis et al. (2014) How Many People in the USA Have Essential Tremor? Deriving a Population Estimate Based on Epidemiological Data – National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4137360/
- (2019) Trial of Cannabis for Essential Tremor – ClinicalTrails.gov https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03805750
- PabloPandolfo et al. (2011) Cannabinoids inhibit the synaptic uptake of adenosine and dopamine in the rat and mouse striatum – Elsevier B.V. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0014299911000537
- Eric P. Baron et al. (2018) Patterns of medicinal cannabis use, strain analysis, and substitution effect among patients with migraine, headache, arthritis, and chronic pain in a medicinal cannabis cohort – National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5968020/
- T Gurgel do Vale et al. Central effects of citral, myrcene and limonene, constituents of essential oil chemotypes from Lippia alba (Mill.) n.e. Brown – National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12587690/
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Best CBD Oil for Tremors – August 2022
Tremors are caused by conditions, such as neurodegenerative diseases, anxiety, and brain injury.
Scientific studies have yet to determine how cannabidiol ( CBD ) may affect tremors. However, scientists are now investigating its capability to reduce symptoms of the movement disorder .
In January 2019, the University of California, San Diego , called for volunteers for a double-blind study on how medical cannabis may affect essential tremors (ET) (6) .
Dr. Nahab explained that there are currently no pharmacological agents developed for ET. For years, epilepsy medications have been used as off-label treatment.
Also, modern treatment for severe ET involves deep brain stimulation ( DBS ) surgery. DBS is an invasive procedure where a device is implanted into the brain.
The researchers, led by neurologist Dr. Fatta Nahab , are expected to share their findings in December 2020 (7) .
In a clinical trial conducted on Parkinson’s disease patients by the University of Colorado, the authors examined CBD ’s efficacy and tolerability (8) . The study measured appropriate CBD dosing and its ability to reduce tremors.
A positive outcome from ongoing CBD studies may lead to a natural solution to treating tremors.
Although CBD ’s efficacy on tremors is yet to be seen, many studies attributed its positive effects on several brain conditions, such as neurodegenerative diseases, stroke, brain injury, and anxiety (9) .
CBD vs. Neurodegenerative Disease-Related Tremors
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a non-reversible disorder of the central nervous system . Symptoms of PD may include hand tremors , rigid muscles, impaired posture, uncontrolled muscle movements , and many more.
Neurotherapeutics released a study in 2015 that discussed how individuals who were experiencing severe PD-related pain and tremors showed significant improvements after medical cannabis treatment (10) .
Furthermore, patients from the Prague Movement Disorder Centre also reported tremor improvements after using cannabis (11) .
Medical cannabis ( medical marijuana ) does not guarantee the same amount of compounds as one would get from a full-spectrum CBD oil .
However, the two main subspecies of cannabis (Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa) are abundant with CBD (12) .
The US federal law prohibits CBD products from containing more than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol ( THC ), the cannabinoid that causes psychoactive effects. Meanwhile, medical cannabis may contain THC levels higher than 0.3%.
More comprehensive studies are essential to determine how CBD , as a monotherapy, may affect rigidity and tremors among individuals with PD.
However, some researchers acknowledge that CBD may have neuroprotective properties that can help with PD.
A study posted in the British Pharmacological Society mentioned that CBD might be able to modulate neurotransmission and improve neurogenesis (formation of new neurons) (13) .
The study added that CBD , as a monotherapy, or if used in conjunction with other phytocannabinoids, had demonstrated significant effects among individuals with Parkinson’s disease , Huntington’s disease, and multiple sclerosis (14) .
The authors continued that CBD was able to activate the G-protein receptors, leading to an increase of adenosine (a building block for DNA and RNA) concentrations. This response resulted in the reduction of inflammatory cells in the brain (15) .
According to another study, systemic inflammation in the brain can lead to an exaggerated synthesis of proinflammatory cytokines, a protein released by the immune system (16) .
The release of these proinflammatory proteins can lead to both acute and chronic neurodegeneration. Long-term studies are needed to confirm any potential benefits of CBD for neurodegenerative or other disorders besides certain childhood seizures.
CBD vs. Anxiety-Related Tremors
A recent study posted by the Journal of Psychopharmacology has shown how CBD reduced anxiety and tremor amplitude among PD patients (17) .
The study specified that a 300mg/d (milligrams per day) CBD dose produced significant differences in blood pressure , heart rate, and frequency of tremors among the participants.
The study also saw a reduction in anxiety-related tremors during a simulated public speaking test.
Other studies have mentioned how CBD might have therapeutic benefits for individuals with anxiety and other neuropsychiatric conditions (18) .
CBD vs. Brain Injury and Stroke Tremors
An animal study from Pharmaceuticals addressed how CBD may positively affect brain injury and ischemic stroke (stroke caused by lack of blood blow) (19) .
The study found that cannabinoids might facilitate neuroprotection and neuro repair response in the brain.
A dose of 3mg/kg (milligrams per kilogram) CBD administered to mice models with cerebral ischemia improved the neurological scores and motor coordination (20) .
The study concluded that more research is needed to evaluate CBD ’s clinical value on brain injury and stroke.
CBD vs. Other Movement Disorders
A study mentioned that basal ganglia dysfunction is responsible for causing movement disorders , like tremors and chorea (21) .
The British Journal of Pharmacology released a study that supported cannabinoid ’s affinity in activating receptors in the basal ganglia (22) .
The authors added that the activation might have therapeutic potential in treating Huntington’s disease (HD) and Parkinson’s disease (PD) symptoms.
A 2018 study released in Neurochem evaluated how CBD and other cannabinoids might have neuroprotective effects in an HD cell culture model (23) .
In the study, CBD , tetrahydrocannabinol ( THC ), and cannabinol (CBN) showed 51-84% protection against Huntington-induced cell death.
Moreover, a review from Neurology mentioned that CBD might have reduced chorea among patients with HD. A dose of 300mg/d (milligrams per day) CBD was administered to patients orally for three weeks.
Mild improvements in choreic movements (5 to 15%) were reported in the first week. In the second week, further improvements (20 to 40%) were reported (24) .
Chorea, like tremors, is a movement disorder . However, a tremor is classified for its rhythmicity and predictability, while chorea has more random and untimely movements (25) .
Meanwhile, a contrasting study was released by Pharmaceuticals, where a controlled clinical trial showed no significant improvements among 15 patients with HD.
In the study, patients were treated with 700mg/d for six weeks. The study did acknowledge that high doses of oral CBD (150-600 milligrams per day) might hold a therapeutic effect on social anxiety, insomnia, and epilepsy (26) .
Also, CBD is a medically-accepted therapy for epileptic spasms. In 2018, the FDA approved Epidiolex as a pharmaceutical drug for rare child epilepsies. The main active ingredient in the drug is CBD (27) .
Although there are no studies that have used Epidiolex as off-label medication for tremors, another antiepileptic drug, Primidone , is a medically-accepted off-label treatment.
How CBD Oil Works to Help With Tremors
The human endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex system made of G-protein-coupled receptors, cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2).
These receptors are located throughout the human body. Most are present in the central nervous system (CNS) and peripheral nervous system (28) .
Many researchers have discussed how modulating the ECS might result in many therapeutic promises in a wide range of pathological conditions and diseases (29) .
Researchers also learned that there is a high density of cannabinoid receptors in the cerebellum and basal ganglia (areas that control motor function).
These receptors have caused many researchers to examine how tremors caused by CNS-related diseases can be alleviated.
A study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology explained how cannabinoids , such as THC and CBD , may have the ability to interact with CB1 and CB2 receptors (30) .
The authors mentioned that CBD displays high potency in modulating CB1 and CB2 receptors.
Another study hypothesized that alterations to the ECS might be beneficial to Parkinsonian tremors. The study also called on researchers to consider testing the range of individual cannabinoids for their therapeutic potential in managing tremors (31) .
The Pros and Cons of CBD Oil for Tremors
- CBD might be able to modulate neurotransmission and improve neurogenesis (formation of new neurons) (32) .
- CBD has demonstrated significant effects among individuals with neurological disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease , Huntington’s disease, and multiple sclerosis (33) .
- CBD might help reduce inflammatory cells in the brain (34) .
- CBD has been reported to have reduced movement disorder symptoms among patients with Huntington’s disease (HD) (35) .
- CBD has been acknowledged as well-tolerated and safe for daily use (36) .
- CBD has been found to improve motor functions in animal models with induced ischemia (37) .
- There is a lack of evidence if CBD , as a monotherapy, can help improve essential tremors or treat any disorder other than certain childhood seizures.f
- CBD is poorly regulated. Individuals are encouraged to do extensive research before choosing a CBD brand.
- CBD may cause side effects , such as dry mouth, diarrhea, and loss of appetite (38) .
- According to the US Food and Drug Administration ( FDA ), CBD may cause liver injury if consumed in extremely high doses (39) .
How CBD Oil Compares to Alternative Treatments for Tremors
There are no recommended alternative treatments for tremors except for off-label use of other pharmaceutical drugs and compounds (40) .
- Propranolol – contraindicated in pulmonary disease or heart block
- Primidone – may cause sedation and cognitive side effects
- Allopregnanolone – used for postpartum depression
- Octanol – fatty alcohol used in perfumes and flavoring
- TPA023 – anti-anxiety drug
- OnabotulinumtoxinA (Botox) – injected into the larynx (voice box) for voice tremors and face muscles for face tremors (41) .
Researchers list the following recommendations as emerging treatments for tremors due to their anxiolytic, anticonvulsant, and sedative properties.
Meanwhile, studies have acknowledged CBD for its anxiolytic, anticonvulsant, and sedative properties (42) .
How to Choose the Best CBD Oil for Tremors
For individuals who want to improve tremor symptoms, it may be appropriate to use full-spectrum CBD oil .
Full-spectrum CBD oil contains all the cannabinoids present in hemp plants, such as CBD , cannabigerol (CBG), cannabinol (CBN), and THC .
The previous studies mentioned in this article mostly used cannabis as a trial treatment.
Most full-spectrum CBD products contain all the phytocannabinoids one can find in a cannabis plant (43) . However, the product may not contain more than 0.3% THC due to the United States ’ federal law .
The broad-spectrum CBD oil is another product that contains all the cannabinoids with 0% THC . Broad-spectrum oil is recommended for individuals who do not want THC in their system.
Moreover, individuals who cannot tolerate other cannabinoids may opt for CBD isolates, which contain only pure CBD .
CBD Dosage for Tremors
The recommended dosage for individuals who want to take CBD for brain- or CNS-related conditions is less than 1 milligram to 50 milligrams per day (44) . The dosage can be increased when the body gets used to CBD .
A high CBD dosage is not recommended due to lack of information on how CBD may affect symptoms of essential tremors .
How to Take CBD Oil for Tremors
When taking CBD oil for tremors, the fastest delivery method is through vaping. A study had mentioned that the lungs are a very efficient mechanism for drug delivery.
The authors continued that CBD inhaled through aerosols or vaporizations can deliver plasma concentrations that can be felt within 10 minutes or less (45) .
Vaping is also recommended for its accessibility. Individuals who are looking to find a quick relief can vape CBD at home or while traveling.
However, there had been several reports that vaping can potentially cause harm, such as chemical irritation, allergic reactions, shortness of breath, and chest pains (46) .
Individuals may also opt for oral or sublingual (under the tongue) delivery, such as CBD capsules or CBD tinctures . The oral administration allows for optimal absorption (47) .
Some CBD tinctures may have an earthy taste and smell due to terpenes and flavonoids added into the concentration. Individuals who do not care for this distinct flavor can opt for CBD capsules.
Individuals must discuss their treatment options with a licensed physician before using CBD for their medical conditions .
Reports on CBD ‘s therapeutic potential in improving PD’s primary motor symptoms have resulted in scientists pursuing the mechanism behind its efficacy (48) .
A positive outcome of these studies could significantly impact individuals who suffer from tremors.
Nevertheless, tremor sufferers may also adjust their lifestyle to naturally improve their quality of life, such as trying meditation, avoiding caffeine, and reducing alcohol (49) .
Experts also advise a few modifications, such as using the hand with less tremor more often, utilizing voice-activated commands on smartphones, and speech-recognition on computers.
Always seek qualified professional medical advice for any personal health concerns and before taking CBD for any reason.