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In a small 6-week case series, investigators from the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil administered cannabidiol (CBD) to four patients with Parkinson’s disease who also showed symptoms of REM sleep behavior disorder.
Published last month in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics, all four patients experienced a significant reduction in symptoms following treatment.
REM sleep behavior disorder, or RBD, is a sleep disorder that causes people to act out their dreams. Common symptoms include talking, shouting, and complex movements during sleep. The disorder occurs frequently in patients with Parkinson’s, but is challenging to treat.
“Four patients treated with CBD had prompt and substantial reduction in the frequency of RBD-related events without side effects,” wrote the authors.
“Regarding symptoms after drug discontinuation, RBD complex movements returned with the same frequency and intensity of baseline after the treatment was interrupted.”
Three of the patients received 75mg of cannabidiol per day and one received 300mg per day. While little is known about CBD’s mechanism of action in sleep disorders, the researchers hypothesize that the effects observed in the study may be due to its anticholinergic activity.
“Several studies have shown that CBD has a broad spectrum of action that includes hypnotic, antipsychotic, anxiolytic and neuroprotective properties,” they add.
Due to the study’s limitations, the authors conclude that more research is necessary “to confirm the possibly beneficial effects of CBD” as a treatment for REM sleep behavior disorder in patients with Parkinson’s disease.
Another study by the group, published in 2009, found that CBD could improve symptoms of psychosis in Parkinson’s sufferers as well.