It’s thought that over 7 million people in the United States live with Essential Tremor (ET), roughly 2.2% of the population. And currently, there is limited research on treatments for ET; there is no one medication to treat the condtion. Beta blockers, anti-seizure medications, Botox injections, tranquilizers, therapy, and—in severe cases—deep brain stimulation, are used to treat ET, though each has its limitations. But researchers at UC San Diego’s Center for Medical Cannabis Research may soon learn more about cannabinoids’ effects on ET. The team announced that the DEA had given it the green light to import CBD and THC capsules from a Canadian-based company to conduct its study. The researchers will use high-dose CBD and low-dose THC (20:1, respectively) to determine if the cannabinoids relieve patients’ ET symptoms.

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How Essential Tremor Affects the Body

Essential tremor is a nervous system disorder that affects the body by generating involuntary shaking. The shaking can manifest in any part of the body, but it is most common in the hands, mirroring Parkinson’s symptoms.—and ET is ten times more common than Parkinson’s. In many cases, ET impacts daily tasks such as eating with a utensil, drinking from a cup, tying shoes, or typing, making them difficult or impossible to complete. The condition can become so problematic that it impacts every aspect of an individual’s life, costing many their job or career.

Essential Tremor is difficult to treat—which is why researchers are thrilled to have the cannabinoids to conduct the study. The research is the first of its kind and, if successful, will provide other researchers a foundation on which to explore other potential treatments, and reveal new information about ET.

Studying the CBD’s Effects on ET

The study will involve 16 adult participants, each of whom has been diagnosed with ET by a movement disorder neurologist. The team will monitor the severity of and any changes to the tremors. Each participant will orally receive the 20:1 ratio over a two-week period, after which researchers will decrease the dose, and the patients will undergo a washout period.

The 20:1 CBD-THC ratio is important to note in the study; researchers sought to minimize any “high” effects from the THC, as CBD cannot get a person high. The researchers listed in detail in their FDA application the compound’s formula, as well as provided a California research advisory panel with the study’s plans. Phase I and II trials are slated for early 2019 and will explore how well patients tolerate and the compound, as well as its effectiveness on treating participants’ tremors. Researchers believe that the double-blind, placebo control study will take about a year to complete.