A study posted on the Journal of Child Neurology found that CBD treatments reduced cerebral palsy symptoms, such as dystonia, sleep disturbances, and pain. As CBD has grown in popularity, many patients are hopeful that it can help treat the effects of cerebral palsy. Learn more here.
Best CBD Oil for Cerebral Palsy – August 2022
Cerebral palsy (CP) is a congenital condition affecting movements, muscle tone, and body posture. This lifelong condition is diagnosed during infancy or early childhood.
The primary cause of CP is a brain injury or malformation during neonatal development (12) .
Symptoms of cerebral palsy include muscle contractions , spasticity, lack of muscle coordination and balance, involuntary movements, speech delay, learning difficulties, lack of motor skills, and tremors .
The types of cerebral palsy depends on the symptoms presented by the individual.
Spastic cerebral palsy presents with spasms. Axatic cerebral palsy causes trouble with muscle coordination and balance. Dyskinetic cerebral palsy causes involuntary movements.
CP treatment options include surgical procedures, physiotherapy, botox injections, or oral muscle relaxants, such as diazepam, dantrolene , and baclofen (13) .
However, muscle relaxants have several side effects , including lightheadedness, lack of muscle control (ataxia), blurred vision, and depression (14) .
Moreover, individuals taking muscle relaxants are also at risk of dependency and withdrawal symptoms (15) .
Meanwhile, CBD has potential health benefits that may be useful for people with CP.
CBD vs Spasticity
Currently, there is only one direct study on cannabidiol’s ( CBD ) therapeutic effects on cerebral palsy symptoms .
The Wolfson Medical Center conducted a clinical trial using CBD and THC (with ratios 20 to 1 and 6 to 1) on children with cerebral palsy (CP) .
The study, led by child neurologist , Dr. Luba Blumkin , found that the CBD treatment significantly reduced dystonia , spasticity , sleep difficulties, and pain among CP patients (16) .
The clinical trial’s result was supported by other studies on CBD ’s efficacy in treating motor disorders .
A 2018 study posted in Neurological Disorders mentioned that CBD , with the combination of THC , reduced spasticity in human subjects (17) . The authors attributed this hypothesis to CBD ’s neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory, and muscle relaxant properties (18) .
CP and multiple sclerosis have often been studied together due to similarities in muscle spasms and stiffness symptoms exhibited by the conditions (19) . Researchers mention that both conditions cause upper neuron motor dysfunction (20) .
A 2015 review indicated that the first-line treatment for both conditions involved muscle relaxant and anti-convulsant agents (21) .
However, the authors noted that young children and the elderly displayed adverse effects from the treatments (22) .
A study posted by Frontiers in Neurology has noted that CBD treatments improved mobility and reduced spasticity among multiple sclerosis patients. Moreover, CBD ’s efficacy significantly reduced the usage of prescription medicines (23) .
CBD vs. Cerebral Palsy-Associated Conditions
CBD might also potentially treat other conditions associated with CP.
Studies mention that 23-46% of children with CP experience sleep disturbances. These are usually caused by the child’s immobility and pain (24) .
Due to inactivity, adults with CP have higher risks of anxiety, depression (25) , cardiovascular disorders, and rheumatoid arthritis (26) .
Lastly, studies have shown that children with CP have a high risk of developing seizure disorders. The authors indicated that spastic tetraplegia, a form of cerebral palsy , might be associated with seizures (27) .
A study found that CBD reduced depression in human subjects (28) . Moreover, studies found that CBD has therapeutic potential in treating high blood pressure (29) and arthritis (30) .
A study posted by the Permanente Journal also demonstrated CBD ’s efficacy in reducing anxiety scores and improving insomnia among human subjects. The authors observed that among the 72 adults who participated, 79.2% had reduced anxiety, while 66.7% improved their sleep scores (31) .
Lastly, researchers confirmed CBD ’s efficacy in treating epileptic seizures, especially in pediatric age (32) . The epileptic drug, Epidiolex, is the first FDA-approved CBD drug used to treat rare forms of epilepsy (33) .
How CBD Oil Works to Help With Cerebral Palsy
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is studied for its role in maintaining homeostasis in the human body. Studies have acknowledged that activation of cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2, plays a role in modulating functions in the central nervous system (34) .
Researchers indicated the high density of cannabinoid receptors in the cerebellum and basal ganglia (areas that control motor function ) (35) .
Studies showed that CB1 expression plays a role in motor function and spasticity among patients with neurodegenerative disorders (36) .
A study released by Therapeutic Advances in Neurological Disorders has shown that CB1 receptors in the CNS pathways are targets that can deliver antispastic effects. The author added that treatments using cannabinoids might potentially stimulate these targets (37) .
Moreover, CB2 expression has been observed to block inflammatory cytokin es (proteins released by cells) in the ce ntral nervous system (CNS). Studies explained that inflammation in the CNS might be the cause of various symptoms, such as tremors and spasms (38) .
Still, more studies are needed to learn how cannabinoids might influence the ECS and CNS of cerebral palsy patients .
The Pros and Cons of CBD Oil for Cerebral Palsy
- CBD treatments significantly reduced cerebral palsy symptoms , such as dystonia , spasticity , sleep difficulties, and pain (39) .
- CBD ’s efficacy in reducing spasms led to decreased usage of muscle relaxant and anti-convulsant agents (40) .
- CBD might reduce anxiety, insomnia (41) , and depression in adults with CP (42) .
- CBD has therapeutic potentials in lowering blood pressure (43) and alleviating joint pain (44) .
- CBD’s efficacy in treating seizures has been proven by studies (45) .
- CBD has been acknowledged to have an excellent safety profile for human consumption (46) .
- CBD may cause side effects , such as drowsiness, loss of appetite, and dry mouth (47) .
- A recent study discovered that high CBD dosage caused hepatotoxicity (liver damage) in rat models (48) .
- CBD is not an approved treatment for CP, and further studies are needed to determine any possible benefits.
How CBD Oil Compares to Alternative Treatments for Cerebral Palsy
The echinacea plant has been traditionally used as an alternative or complementary medicine for CP (49) .
Some of the herb’s medicinal claims include improved blood circulation, neural connections, and reduced spasticity . However, until studies prove otherwise, echinacea’s clinical value remains to be seen.
B12 and omega-3 fatty acid vitamins have been recognized to improve cognitive function. A 2017 study mentioned that early intervention using B12 and omega 3 supplements might improve cognitive functions (50) .
CT scans demonstrated this hypothesis following B12 and omega-3 treatments. Children who have hypertonia (muscle stiffness), brain atrophy, and delayed milestones and speech displayed improvements in neuroimaging results (51) .
Zingiber officinale (ginger) had been studied for its potential to improve brain functions. A study indicated that ginger root extracts enhanced both attentive and cognitive processing in human subjects (52) .
Although CBD has not been shown to improve children’s learning capabilities, it has been acknowledged for its neuroprotective properties (53) .
A study posted by the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology indicated that CBD reduced hypoxia-ischemia (brain damage) and improved brain function in animal models (54) .
Moreover, CBD has been observed to possess muscle relaxant properties that might be useful in alleviating hypertonia (55) .
How to Choose the Best CBD Oil for Cerebral Palsy
The recommended CBD oil for individuals with CP is the full-spectrum option.
Full-spectrum CBD oil contains all the major cannabinoids in hemp, such as CBD , cannabichromene (CBC), cannabigerol (CBG), cannabinol (CBN), and tetrahydrocannabinol ( THC ).
Together, these compounds create a cannabinoid synergy known as the “entourage effect.”
A review published in Frontiers in Plant Science indicated that the entourage effect increased the activity of ECS receptors (56) .
The author also explained how CBD, combined with other cannabinoids, displayed high efficacy compared to isolated compounds (57) .
Another study demonstrated the entourage effect through a controlled trial on patients with chronic pain (58) .
The authors found that THC treatment failed to reduce pain scores significantly. However, treatments containing THC and CBD showed better results (59) .
Individuals who want to experience the entourage effect without THC may opt for broad-spectrum CBD . Broad-spectrum contains all the same compounds from full-spectrum except THC .
Cannabis products, such as medical marijuana and cannabis oil , are high in THC . Depending on the dispensary , some cannabis products may contain 28% THC (60) .
In the United States, CBD products are prohibited from carrying more than 0.3% THC (61) .
Individuals who want to take CBD as monotherapy may opt for CBD isolates (99% pure CBD ).
Additional tips to consider before buying CBD :
- Look for the product’s certificate of analysis (COA) to determine cannabinoid content and safety profile.
- Do thorough research and check testimonials and reviews of CBD brands.
- Send inquiries to the customer service department for more information.
CBD Dosage for Cerebral Palsy
More studies are needed to find the appropriate CBD dosage for CP symptoms. However, for any medical condition, e xperts recommend that first-time CBD users start with a low dose and gradually increase when the body gets used to CBD .
A study posted by the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology collected thousands of clinical CBD dosing data on various health conditions (62) .
The authors indicated that appropriate dosing might range from 1 to 50 milligrams per kilogram a day (63) .
Moreover, Pharmacology and Pharmacy shared a study explaining that CBD has a bell-shaped dose-response. The authors observed that a limited CBD dose was enough to produce significant results (64) .
A study from Frontiers of Pharmacology supported the bell-shaped dose-response. The authors observed that the 300mg dose reduced anxiety scores better than 150mg and 600mg dosings (65) .
However, individuals with CP must practice caution when experimenting with CBD dosage.
A study released by Molecules found that extremely high CBD doses can cause liver damage in rat models (66) .
How to Take CBD Oil for Cerebral Palsy
The most straightforward administration for individuals with CP is through oral or sublingual delivery.
Oral CBD products include capsules, softgels, and gummies. Individuals may take oral CBD with or without a meal.
Sublingual delivery methods are available through CBD tinctures. CBD may be taken by using an applicator to put a few drops under the tongue.
Studies have shown that sublingual and oral administration allows plasma concentration to last three to four hours after intake (67) .
Moreover, taking CBD through oral and sublingual administration was observed to provide high plasma concentrations when taken with a meal. However, CBD intake during an empty stomach produced faster results (68) . However, consuming CBD on a full stomach actually provides maximal absorption.
CBD smoke or vapor inhalation is another way of taking CBD. While it is not recommended for children with CP, it may be an option for adults who have the approval of their licensed physicians.
The lungs are very efficient in absorbing CBD into the body. There is evidence that vaping or smoking delivered plasma concentrations into the bloodstream in less than 10 minutes (69) .
Vaping or smoking CBD may be useful for quick relief from pain, severe spasms, or tremors . However, vaping may present some side effects , such as shortness of breath, chest pain, chemical irritation, and allergic reactions (70) .
Cerebral palsy is a lifelong condition. Recommended treatments, alternative, and complementary medicine are only utilized to improve the quality of life .
Studies have shown that CBD significantly reduced cerebral palsy symptoms , such as dystonia , spastic movements , sleep difficulties, and pain (71) .
CBD ’s efficacy in reducing spasms led to a decreased use of muscle relaxant and anti-convulsant agents (72) .
Moreover, studies have shown that CBD might be useful in treating medical conditions that may arise concurrently with CP, such as high blood pressure (73) , arthritis (74) , and seizures (75) .
Researchers have shown that CBD might improve mental health due to its sleep-promoting, anxiolytic (76) , and antidepressant properties (77) .
Whatever medication is being used, individuals with CP must take the necessary measures to improve mobility and function. Participating in physical therapy, rehabilitation (78) , and speech therapy (79) may positively impact their quality of life.
Individuals with CP must consult with a licensed physician before taking CBD into their daily regimen.
Is CBD a Viable Treatment for Cerebral Palsy?
While there’s no cure for cerebral palsy, studies show CBD may be able to help with some of the symptoms.
This article will explore the most relevant studies into the effectiveness of cannabidiol (CBD) for treating cerebral palsy.
Research has found that CBD has potential broad therapeutic use as an anxiolytic (anti-anxiety), neuroprotectant, muscle relaxant, and pain-reliever without eliciting the intoxicating effects of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Table of Contents
What is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is a congenital condition that affects the brain, as well as body movements, muscle tone, and posture. It is the most common childhood motor disability and is often diagnosed early in childhood or even in infancy.
This debilitating condition is caused by a lack of oxygen flowing to the brain. It can occur in the womb or during a difficult birth. It can also be caused by meningitis or a serious head injury.
There are four different types of cerebral palsy:
- Spastic CP
- Athetoid CP
- Ataxic CP
- Mixed CP
Each affects the body differently, giving some patients the ability to be more independent than others.
Does CBD Oil Help with Cerebral Palsy?
There is only one FDA-approved CBD drug — Epidiolex — and it’s used to treat seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. However, both research and patient testimonies strongly suggest that CBD does help manage symptoms of cerebral palsy.
Common symptoms of cerebral palsy include muscle spasms, tremors, lack of motor skills, speech delay, and tremors. The way cerebral palsy presents is dependent on which type of cerebral palsy a patient suffers from.
Only one known study has specifically examined the effects of CBD on cerebral palsy symptoms. However, there are numerous studies that have been conducted on CBD and multiple sclerosis, a condition that has similar neurological symptoms.
The study revealed that CBD helped reduce spasticity, sleep difficulties, and overall decreased chronic pain in cerebral palsy patients . These findings were supported by another study conducted in 2018, which studied neurological disorders. It was concluded that patients found relief from muscle spasticity due to the anti-inflammatory and relaxative properties of CBD.
What Does CBD Oil Do to Your Brain?
Because cerebral palsy affects neurological functions, you have to take into consideration the effects that CBD has on the brain.
The effects of CBD are unique in the way they affect the endocannabinoid system as it is a non-intoxicating compound, making them an appealing alternative to marijuana which contains THC — the main psychoactive compound in cannabis.
Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t have an affinity to bind to endocannabinoid receptors. Instead, CBD stimulates the endocannabinoid system to produce more cannabinoids while also slowing the breakdown of those cannabinoids. It does this by inhibiting the release of the enzymes and helps to prime CB1 and CB2 receptors for those cannabinoids.
CBD has also been shown to modulate pain receptor sites (vanilloid and opioid receptors) and boost GABA-A activity in the brain to uplift one’s mood, which may also affect one’s perception of pain.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the different ways CBD oil affects the brain:
The Serotonin System
Serotonin is often associated with happiness, but the serotonin system affects so much more than that. The serotonin system affects not only one’s mood but their perception of pain and their appetite and digestion.
So how does CBD come into play?
CBD targets the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor, which is involved with neuromodulation. Researchers have observed a correlation between the 5-HT1A receptor dysfunction with generalized anxiety disorder and depression. While a lot is still unknown, there has been promising research to support claims that CBD oil alleviates pain and anxiety through its modulation at this receptor site .
The Vanilloid Receptors
Vanilloid receptors regulate the body’s temperature and control the body’s reaction to inflammation and perception of pain. CBD binds to the TRPV1 (vanilloid receptors), helping to achieve a calming effect on the body.
Anandamide is a fatty acid neurotransmitter and the first endocannabinoid to be discovered. It binds to the CB1 and CB2 receptors, helping to regulate homeostasis and stimulate a sense of happiness and wellbeing — it’s also aptly nicknamed the “bliss molecule.”
CBD has been shown to enhance anandamide signaling and slow the breakdown of these endocannabinoids by blocking the release of enzymes. Animal studies have found that anandamide-mediated signaling of CB1 receptors provided analgesic effects by limiting the input of pain to the central nervous system .
What Dosages of CBD are Effective for Managing Cerebral Palsy Symptoms?
There is no one dosage that is a magic treatment for cerebral palsy.
For some patients, it takes months, even years, of trial and error with different strains, dosages, and forms of CBD to find what works for them.
The way CBD will affect one’s body depends on a variety of factors, including weight, metabolism, what other medications you may be taking, the severity of your condition, the form of CBD, and of course, the dosage.
The form of CBD determines the product’s bioavailability — the percentage of CBD ingested that your body is able to absorb into the bloodstream. This is why certain products are better suited to certain needs.
Here’s the breakdown of CBD bioavailability:
- CBD topicals: less than 1%
- CBD capsules and edibles: 5-15%
- CBD oil: 20-30%
- CBD vapes: about 50%
The easiest and safest way to determine what dosage is most effective for your needs is to start with a lower dosage and gradually increase from there.
As you increase your dosage, pay attention to any reactions such as dry mouth, dizziness, irritation, or diarrhea, as they may be indicators you have taken too much. If using CBD as a tincture, edible, or capsule, it is best to take it on a full stomach to provide maximum absorption into the bloodstream.
Are There Side Effects of CBD Oil?
While side effects of CBD are not common, they can happen. This is why patients should only take CBD for cerebral palsy under the advice of their doctor. This is because CBD can potentially interact with other medications, thus leading to side effects.
Another reason patients may experience side effects is because of the brand — not every company produces quality CBD products, so if you are not careful, you may be ingesting harmful chemicals from the hemp farming or manufacturing process that could cause severe side effects.
In rare cases, CBD oil can cause liver failure as a result of negative drug interactions. This is also a common side effect of antiepileptic medications. Patients should also not stop taking their medications without the green light from their doctor. Doing so can shock the nervous system, causing severe reactions.
Cerebral palsy patients are often on numerous medications at a time, making it hard to pinpoint what exactly may be causing side effects. If there are immediate negative effects with CBD oil, you should see your doctor immediately.
Will CBD Oil Interact With My Cerebral Palsy Medications?
CBD may interact with certain prescription medications used for cerebral palsy. Interactions can range from synergistic (beneficial) to life-threatening. It’s critical you speak with your doctor about using CBD if you’re taking any prescription medications.
Let’s cover some of the most common CBD-drug interactions you may encounter with cerebral palsy medications:
CBD & Anticholinergics
This class of drug works by inhibiting the effects of acetylcholine — which is a key neurotransmitter in the brain as well as in the muscles.
CBD may interact with these medications by slowing their metabolism in the liver. This could lead to a buildup in the bloodstream over the course of several days or weeks. If concentrations become too high, side effects or overdose may occur.
Common anticholinergics used in treating cerebral palsy:
- Carbidopa-levodopa (Sinemet)
- Glycopyrrolate (Cuvposa, Robinul)
- Benztropine (Cogentin)
CBD & Anticonvulsants
There are multiple different classes of medications that could be used as an anticonvulsant with cerebral palsy. These medications are used to reduce muscle contractions and abnormal muscle movements.
Some common medication classes include barbiturates and benzodiazepines.
The most common medication used for this is phenobarbital, a powerful anticonvulsant barbiturate.
CBD will interact similarly with all of these medications — leading to increased effects and slowed metabolic breakdown. Both of these results could be dangerous, leading to increased chances of side effects and overdose.
CBD & Antidepressants
Depression is a common side effect of cerebral palsy. For this reason, it’s common for patients to have a prescription for antidepressants such as SSRIs or SNRIs alongside other medications.
CBD may interact with these medications if used in high doses on a daily basis. However, people who take antidepressants and lower doses of CBD, with breaks every 2 or 3 days, rarely report side effects.
Other classes of antidepressants, such as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) or tricyclic antidepressants, have a much higher risk of side effects.
CBD & Anti-inflammatories
Anti Inflammatories is a standard treatment for cerebral palsy. There’s a lot of different classes of these medications, but most doctors stick with simple NSAID medications like acetaminophen (Aspirin and Tylenol) or Ibuprofen.
CBD may interact with these medications by increasing the anti-inflammatory profile (synergistic) but can also slow the breakdown.
If using acetaminophen (or other NSAIDs) alongside other medications, it may be unsafe to use CBD. The combined competition of all these medications and CBD for metabolism in the liver can lead to a buildup of drugs in the bloodstream. Some of these drugs could bring dangerous consequences if the dose gets too high.
Final Thoughts: Can CBD Help With Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is a neurological condition that currently has no known cure.
Patients have found their quality of life to increase greatly after adding CBD oil to their treatment plan for its relaxing and pain-relieving qualities.
However, CBD oil is not a suitable replacement for one’s medications, meaning you by no means should stop taking any medications without orders from your doctor to do so.
To get the most out of your CBD oil, you should take the time to research brands, their manufacturing process and consult your doctor on how the CBD could potentially interact with other medications and if it’s right for you.