What Is Essential Tremor – And Can CBD Oil Help?
Essential tremor, sometimes referred to as ET, is a condition that affects around 7 million Americans and millions more the world over. ET affects up to 1% of the general population, and up to 5% of people aged over 65.
Despite how common ET is, there is yet to be any cure, and there are currently very few treatment options available.
Some have proposed that CBD oil could offer potential relief to those suffering from essential tremor. This article will explore this possibility in-depth.
What Is an Essential Tremor?
Essential tremor is a nervous system (neurological) disorder. It is characterized by involuntary and rhythmic shaking, which can occur in any part of the body. It most commonly occurs in the hands when performing simple tasks like drinking from a glass or tying shoelaces.
The tremors are similar to Parkinson’s disease symptoms, which often leads to ET being confused with Parkinson’s. Some of the key differences between the two conditions are:
- The timing of the tremors
With ET, the tremors usually occur when the affected person is using their hands. However, with Parkinson’s disease, these tremors or shakes arise when they are inactive. Parkinson’s hand tremors are most prominent when they are by the person’s side or resting on their lap.
- Posture and movement
Some people with ET develop ataxia, which means that they no longer have full control over their bodily movements. As a result, people with ataxia often have an unsteady gait.
On the other hand, people with Parkinson’s disease often have a shuffling gait. Other associated symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include slow motion and having a stooped posture.
- Similarities in parts of the body affected by both conditions
ET mainly affects the hands, head, voice, and legs. With Parkinson’s disease, these tremors usually start in the hands. However, they can also impact the legs and chin.
Symptoms of Essential Tremor
Essential tremor signs and symptoms:
- Begin gradually, usually more prominently on one side of the body
- Worsen with movement
- They usually occur in the hands first, affecting one or both hands
- Can include a “yes-yes” or “no-no” motion of the head
- Emotional stress, fatigue, caffeine or temperature extremes may aggravate this condition
Upward and downward movements characterize ET in the hands. These tremors can also affect the arms, head, eyelids, and larynx (voice box), which results in a shaky voice.
Essential tremor symptoms can be challenging to detect, as they tend to start discreetly and worsen over time.
People should not confuse essential tremor with what doctors consider to be a physiologic tremor. Many people have a slight tremor only when performing specific tasks, which is entirely reasonable and nothing of concern. Factors such as caffeine, stress, smoking, and tiredness can bring on a physiologic tremor.
What Causes an Essential Tremor?
One risk factor for ET is age. Essential tremor is much more common in people aged 40 and older. And as already mentioned, ET affects up to 5% of people aged over 65.
The other main risk factor is a genetic mutation. The inherited cause of ET is due to it being an autosomal dominant disorder. This means that only one parent needs to have the defective gene for their children to inherit it. Research shows that if one parent has the defective gene, then children have a 50% chance of developing the condition.
What Treatments Are Available to Those with Essential Tremor?
There is currently no cure for essential tremors. Treatment is limited to medication or deep brain stimulation surgery in extreme cases. While there is no medication capable of completely removing the symptoms of essential tremor, some can reduce their severity. Some commonly prescribed medications include:
- Primidone (anti-seizure drug)
Could CBD Oil Help Reduce an Essential Tremor?
Cannabis research is ongoing and focuses on its potential in addressing a plethora of medical symptoms. Many states across America now have laws allowing cannabis use in some form.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of the most heavily researched compounds of the marijuana plant. CBD could potentially be hugely significant in mitigating a host of disease-related symptoms in the future.
Research has shown that CBD has anti-inflammatory properties and is a patented neuroprotectant. It also displays other promising benefits.
The FDA has also acknowledged CBD’s medicinal benefits for certain types of seizures. The epilepsy drug Epidiolex is the first-ever CBD-based drug the administration has approved.
Despite the level of research into CBD, there is still minimal research into cannabis for essential tremor.
Current Research into CBD for Essential Tremor
Despite encouraging research into CBD for other conditions with similar symptoms, experts are no closer to adding essential tremor to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana.
However, there has been a recent breakthrough for the industry as researchers at the University of California San Diego are currently researching the area.
They are conducting a study that will look at the effectiveness and safety of a cannabis formulation for helping ET.
The researchers estimate that approximately sixteen participants with ET would take part in the study. All participants undergo a complete neurological examination and psychological testing as part of the study.
The participants take an oral cannabis formulation with a CBD to THC ratio of 20:1. Upon completion of a particular dosage of the cannabis formulation for two weeks, participants taper off. After a washout period, they then cross to an alternate study arm.
The study will take approximately one year to complete. The researchers will use various types of validated tremor rating measures in the study. As well as quantifying tremor severity, the researchers will assess the safety and tolerability of the cannabis formulation.
Final Thoughts on CBD Oil for Essential Tremor
The research occurring at the University of California San Diego is hugely crucial for sufferers of ET and the cannabis industry as a whole. This will be the first time that scientists have looked to the plant for its effectiveness in calming essential tremors symptoms.
The results of the study could potentially have a life-changing impact on people with ET. A positive outcome would likely pave the way for further clinical studies using cannabinoids.
There has not been much research done on the potential effects of CBD for essential tremor. However, we are expecting this to soon change.
CBD for Tremors
Are you looking for plant-based solutions to your tremors? Tremors occur for different reasons in different parts of the body. What’s the most common form of tremor? We’ll get to that in a minute.
What are tremors?
Tremors are muscle movements that involve and back and forth rhythmic swaying. I think you’ll agree with me that those who experience them seem to be uncomfortable. In today’s post, we’ll explore what tremors are and what we know about them.
Best CBD Oils For Tremors
Are tremors really that out of control?
Tremors are involuntary and can impact the legs, hands, arms, head, face, body, and voice. Generally, tremors are caused by neurological dysfunction in the brain affecting how muscles are controlled. Conditions that destroy or degrade the brain like stroke or a brain injury can cause tremors.
Tremors can occur in otherwise healthy people. Those with tremors may experience anxiety or embarrassment because they are visible and can affect one’s motor skills. The rhythmic shaking may be exacerbated by stress or environmental triggers making the motions more extreme and uncoordinated.
Tremors can also occur in reaction to certain prescription drugs or alcohol withdrawal. They can be inherited or appear seemingly randomly. Tremors affect men and women equally and tend to be found in middle age to older people, although anyone can experience them.
The two types of tremors
Tremors can be classified in two different ways. A resting tremor is when shaking occurs even when a person or muscle is at rest. Parkinson’s patients commonly experience these — their hands will shake even if they are laying down and their hands are resting on their lap. Resting tremors can occur in any area of the body but are most commonly found in the hands and fingers.
Action tremors are a bit more complicated. Action tremors — you guessed it — occur when the individual or affected body part is in motion. There are several subtypes of action tremors. According to the National Institute of Health, there are 5 different action tremor subtypes:
- Postural tremor occurs when a person holds a position against gravity, such as outstretching the arms
- Kinetic tremor is associated with any voluntary movement like opening and closing the eyes
- Intention tremor occurs with purposeful movement towards a target, like reaching to grab something, these can get worse as the person gets closer to the target
- Task-specific tremors occur when performing highly-skilled goal-oriented tasks like writing or speaking
- Isometric tremor occurs during a voluntary muscle contraction that is not accompanied by any movement, like holding a bag
Doctors will evaluate tremors based on neurological and physical examination. Doctors will examine where the tremor occurs in the body when it occurs (acting or resting), and the frequency and amplitude of the tremors. Those with Parkinson’s commonly experience tremors. In a blog post on the Cleveland Clinic’s website, Hubert Fernandez, MD, Director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Neurological Restoration, states, “ Parkinson’s motor problems are quickly recognizable. The tremors — rhythmic movement of lips, chin, hands, and legs; rigidity; stiffness and slowness are hallmark signs. Balance and gait problems are also common. But, Parkinson’s symptoms start long before these problems emerge. As a progressive disease, Parkinson’s destroys the brain’s nerves from the bottom up.” He also states that “only a neurologist can diagnose Parkinson’s” and encourages those who may think they have Parkinson’s to get a neurologist involved earlier.
How are tremors being treated?
There is generally no cure for tremors, but symptoms can be managed given a proper and accurate diagnosis. In some cases, they can be stopped entirely if the underlying cause is removed. For example, those who experience tremors as a side effect of medication or who have a hyperthyroid may see a total change by stopping the medication and balancing the thyroid. For degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, this is not the case. It’s important to have a thorough testing done to find out the underlying cause.
Here’s what it boils down to:
Tremors can be treated through either medication, surgery, or lifestyle changes. Beta-blocking drugs, anti-seizure medications, tranquilizers, injections, and Parkinson’s disease medications can all treat tremors. In severe cases, surgery may be called for especially for those who don’t respond to drug treatment. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is the most common form of surgical treatment for tremors and is preferred because it is low risk and effective. DBS sends electrical signals to the thalamus, an area of the brain that coordinates involuntary movements. Another surgical option, a thalamotomy, involves exact removal of a small area of the thalamus.
Patients may also make lifestyle changes in physical, speech, and occupational therapy. Seeing licensed professionals can help people improve their muscle control through training and exercises. In addition, removing stimulants like caffeine or tremor-inducing medications can help as well.
Is there an alternative way?
People are increasingly turning to plant medicine for a low-cost, holistic approach to treating their tremors. Anti-seizure medications and tranquilizers are common prescriptions to treat tremors that can have heavy side effects on the body. Cannabis and CBD are also anti-seizure compounds that can have tranquilizing effects that tend to soothe the body.
In regards to Parkinson’s, Dr. Fernandez states, “it’s important to remember that everyone’s experience with Parkinson’s is different, and treating it is about targeting the symptoms,” he says. “The most important thing is getting a good evaluation by a neurologist or Parkinson’s expert to make sure you’re on the right path.” He emphasizes that treatment is symptom dependent and drugs are prescribed based on how much the tremors interfere with someone’s life.
The cause of Parkinson’s is largely unknown, but doctors do know that dopamine is not produced in high enough quantities in Parkinson’s patients. Dopamine, a neurotransmitter, is naturally produced in the brain and is important in regulating movement in the body. CBD interacts with dopamine receptors and opioid receptors, but more research is needed to thoroughly understand this reaction.
So what’s the most common form of tremors?
Hand Tremors. Hand tremors are the most common form and can make the quality of life really difficult for those who experience them. Writing and motor tasks, like drinking, can be tough and people who live with tremors may experience anxiety and depression, which is also impacted by CBD and cannabinoids.
It’s really important to understand what is causing your tremors and what your treatment options are. Cannabis as medicine is exploding in popularity in places like the United States where it is used to treat seizures, chronic pain, and neurological disorders like Post Traumatic Stress. It’s important to stay proactive about your health and learn as much as possible through trained professionals about your specific conditions.
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