Unlocking hope this Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month: The latest science behind CBD in CNS disorders

By:  Pharma Solutions Editors



  • Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month offers an opportunity to bring attention to the scientific research and promising emerging therapies aimed at addressing this life-altering disease.
  • In particular, there is growing interest in the role of cannabinoids, like cannabidiol (CBD), in Parkinson’s disease – and other brain health and central nervous system (CNS) disorders. But why?
  • In this blog, we delve into the latest scientific advancements in this evolving field of research and development, highlighting the potential for CBD in Parkinson’s disease treatment. Read on to learn why it could help to unlock more treatment options for patients globally. 

Central nervous system (CNS) diseases, like Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease, are life-changing conditions. Also known as neurological disorders, they present major health concerns on a global scale because they can profoundly affect the nervous system (including the brain, spinal cord  and nerves) and contribute to significant impairments in motor function, cognition and overall quality of life. While traditional treatments offer some relief, they often come with side effects. For instance, long-term use of Levodopa – the most common anti-Parkinson’s treatment – can lead to motor fluctuations and dyskinesia (involuntary movement of body parts).1,2 This emphasizes the need to explore new treatment options in the field of CNS disease. 

One promising area of research involves CBD. The potential therapeutic benefits of CBD have captured the attention of the scientific community, particularly its potential role in CNS therapies. CBD is one of many cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant and, although research is still in its infancy, the molecule has demonstrated a variety of pharmacological effects relevant to CNS disorders. These include potential neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects in neurodegenerative disorders, like Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, CBD has exhibited antiseizure properties, leading to the first US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved CBD-based therapy for certain types of severe childhood epilepsy – Epidiolex.

In this blog, we provide insights into the key scientific developments and discoveries behind CBD for Parkinson’s disease management 3, 4, 5, and spotlight what’s next for future research in this field. Read on to explore the potential innovation avenues associated with CBD and learn why it could hold the key to expanded treatment options for patients worldwide.

The impact of Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by muscle weakness and loss of motor control, often resulting in significant disability. It ranks as the second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s, affecting an estimated 10 million individuals worldwide – and growing.6 Despite being recognized as a rare disease for most of human history, the prevalence of Parkinson’s disease is rising due to the aging population.7 Projections now estimate that 12-17 million people will be impacted by the disease by 2040.8

While there is currently no cure for the disease, available therapies aim to alleviate symptoms. Nevertheless, these treatments are not universally accessible or affordable, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, and can be accompanied by side effects. This is driving demand for new treatment options to address Parkinson’s disease.

Spotlighting CBD: A potential candidate for Parkinson’s disease therapy

CBD has been at the center of numerous emerging studies. Preclinical research investigating the effects of CBD in animal models of Parkinson’s disease have revealed potential neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties for instance.9 A review led by O’Sullivan has also highlighted the possible benefits of CBD in humans with the disease (assessing the findings from three positive uncontrolled trials and two randomized controlled trials).3 Findings from clinical research demonstrate the ability of CBD to alleviate motor symptoms (like tremors) and anxiety10, improve dystonia (uncontrolled muscle spasms)11 and enhance sleep quality12. One robust randomized controlled study led by Leehey in 2020 explored the safety and tolerability of different doses of CBD in treating symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (doses of 20–25 mg/kg/day over 10–15 days).12 It revealed that CBD treatment reduced symptom severity (by 17.8%) and physical impairment (by 24.7%).12 Additionally, improvements were noted in non-motor functions such as sleep quality and emotional regulation.12

Taken together, these trials indicate the potential of CBD in enhancing the quality of life of individuals with Parkinson’s disease. Moreover, the science continues to evolve – and is promising, suggesting that further exploration in this field is worth pursuing. Additional randomized, placebo controlled investigations, in particular, would help to build up conclusive data.

Beyond Parkinson’s disease

It’s not just Parkinson’s disease where CBD has emerged as a possible therapeutic molecule. It has surfaced as a promising candidate in several other neurological disorders too, like Alzheimer’s disease13,14  and anxiety.3 Yet research is still in its infancy, highlighting a unique opportunity for drug developers to enter this space at the front and advance research and development forward with purpose

Here, we spotlight four essential steps that are guaranteed to drive progress in this field of science:

  1. There is a need for robust clinical data, i.e. the development of large-scale randomized controlled trials to fully validate CBD as a therapeutic agent in the CNS domain. 
  2. Exploration of CBD formulations and dose recommendations tailored to specific neurological conditions.
  3. Build a comprehensive understanding of the complex mechanisms underlying CBD, including its neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory and neurotransmitter-modulating effects.
  4. Discovery of synergies and optimal combinations between CBD and existing therapies. 

Your trusted cannabinoid partner

As a purpose-led, innovative partner for cannabinoid-based research and development and active in the brain health arena, dsm-firmenich remains at the forefront of advancements in the space. We are on a mission to ensure every patient receives the care they deserve. Together with Brains Bioceutical, a manufacturer of pharma-grade cannabinoids, we offer end-to-end services to unlock bespoke cannabinoid-based pharmaceuticals that expand treatment options for patients worldwide, including a high quality, GMP CBD API with enhanced bioavailability, plus technical and regulatory expertise. 

For more information, or to find out how we can help you develop more patient-friendly and convenient cannabinoid-based pharmaceuticals that enrich patients’ lives, visit: 

Published on

24 April 2024


7 min read


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