Tremors are uncontrollable, unintentional movements that affect a limb or a part of it. It’s one of the most common movement disorders and it can happen anywhere in the body.
Tremors usually affect the arms, vocal cords, head, legs, and torso. These tremors can also occur intermittently or during separate times after breaks, but they can also be constant or sporadic. Those at most risk for tremors are older and middle-aged adults but it can happen to people at any age and of any gender. Though tremors are not life-threatening, they tend to be embarrassing and can make life difficult while basic everyday and work tasks challenging and sometimes even impossible.
Tremors are typically caused by problems within parts of the brain that are responsible for movement control. Though there are no known causes for most kinds of tremors, some are inherited genetically. They can also be caused by certain neurological disorders such as strokes, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, or traumatic brain injury.
There are different types of tremors that fall into two categories: resting tremor or action tremor. To treat it, medications are usually prescribed such as beta-blocking drugs, anti-seizure medications, tranquilizers, Botulinum toxins, medications for Parkinson’s disease, ultrasound, and in extreme cases where patients don’t respond to treatment, surgery.
How Cannabis Helps
Studies have shown that cannabis can help with different types of tremors.
The latest study was conducted by researchers from the Department of Neuroscience at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences from the University of Copenhagen. The results, which were published in the medical journal Nature Neuroscience, revealed that cannabis was beneficial for patients suffering from pathological tremors.
The researchers discovered that the cannabinoids within the plant interact with the astrocyte, a star-shaped cell located in the spinal cord which reduces tremors. For the study, the researchers used a mouse model to demonstrate how cannabis reduces tremors caused by neurodivergent disorders or traumas, which lead to involuntary shaking in the limbs or the head. It affects some 200,000 people a year within the United States alone.
“We have focused on the disease, essential tremor. It causes involuntary shaking, which can be extremely inhibitory and seriously reduce the patient’s quality of life. However, the cannabinoid might also have a beneficial effect on sclerosis and spinal cord injuries, for example, which also cause involuntary shaking,” explains Jean-Francois Perrier, PhD.
“We discovered that an injection with the cannabinoid WIN55,212-2 into the spinal cord turns on the astrocytes in the spinal cord and prompts them to release substance adenosine, which subsequently reduces nerve activity and thus the undesired shaking. These findings may result in the development of targeted treatment with little or no side effects. In probing astrocytes to understand the biological effects of cannabis, the researchers take a novel approach as earlier studies have focused primarily on neurons,” he says.
“One might imagine a new approach to medical cannabis for shaking, where you – during the treatment of cannabis-based medicinal products – target the treatment either at the spinal cord or the astrocytes – or, at best, the astrocytes of the spinal cord,” explained Eva Carlsen, PhD, who also worked on the study. “Using this approach will avoid affecting the neurons in the brain responsible for our memory and cognitive abilities, and we would be able to offer patients suffering from involuntary shaking effective treatment without exposing them to any of the most problematic side effects of medical cannabis.,” she says.”
Another study, this time from January 2020, found that one dose of CBD was beneficial in reducing anxiety and tremors among people with Parkinson’s disease. These tremors were found to be triggered by anxiety.
This is not surprising since CBD is a well-known anxiolytic, but milder treatment options without side effects are necessary because Parkinson’s tends to affect the older population. CBD has been shown to be safe and have minimal effects, making it an excellent treatment alternative. “This is the first study that shows the anxiolytic effects of CBD in patients with PD and its ability in attenuation of the tremor amplitude in anxiogenic situations,” says the researchers.
Dr. Allan Frankel MD even blogs about his experience of a cannabinoid known as THC-V found to be extremely effective in helping his 70-year old patient who was struggling with essential tremors. According to him, it was the most severe type of essential tremors that he had come across in his 39 years of work. Because it was so extreme, the patient was hardly able to walk and kept getting thrown off by the tremors, unable to swallow food and even write her name.
Within 24 hours of consuming sublingual THC-V, she displayed almost normal speech while showing that she had been able to gain better control of her tremors. She was also able to eat, which shows how cannabis can be life-saving for many. He also notes that the THC-V was also effective in taking the edge off the THC effects.
Using CBD For Tremors
When medicating with cannabis for tremors, stay away from THC which is not recommended for the elderly population especially those who do not want to get high. CBD is different, though if you’re younger you can feel free to experiment with products that have a combination of CBD and THC.
CBD is extremely helpful in calming down the body and mind, which is why it’s so beneficial for anxiety reduction, convulsions, stress and anxiety, and of course, tremors. For this reason, we’re seeing a rise in the use of CBD for Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and other similar disorders that can cause tremors.