Tremors are unintentional rhythmic movements of the body. Oscillatory and repetitive movements, meaning that they provoke a type of back and forth motion, are often noticed in the head and hands of Parkinson’s disease patients who have tremors. Other characteristics include shaking in the arms, head, legs, or trunk. The voice may shake and patients may also have difficulty holding or controlling objects with the hands.
Tremors can occur in a variety of ways, including while at rest, aptly named a resting tremor. An action tremor occurs in a few manners but generally manifests during movement of the affected body parts. Heightened stress levels, anxiety, fatigue, and other conditions can trigger tremors and worsen their severity and frequency.
Tremors aren’t limited to just seniors with neurodegenerative conditions; they can occur in otherwise normal, healthy people as well. Some patient’s tremors are temporary and resolve alone, while others will get progressively worse, and some may resolve after stopping certain medications.
Neurological disorders and degenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s disease are known to cause tremors. A stroke or other traumatic brain injury can cause tremors. Alcohol abuse, anxiety, and panic can also induce tremors or shaking. Mercury poisoning, organ failure, an overactive thyroid, and many types of asthma medication can cause also trigger the action.
Most types of tremors have no known cause but are generally thought to stem from the regions of the brain responsible for motor skills and movement. However, some forms of tremors seem to be genetically inherited.
Treatment for tremors depends on diagnosis and if any underlying conditions are present. For some, removing substances such as caffeine or stimulant medications can help improve tremors. Alcohol can cause and worsen symptoms, but studies show that in small amounts, it can improve tremors for some people.
Medications used to treat tremors include drugs called beta-blockers, such as propranolol a hypertension drug, antiepileptic medications like primidone, also benzodiazepines, Parkinson’s disease medications such as levodopa, and Botulinum toxin injections.
The Journal of Central Nervous System Disease in 2013, published a review of tremor medications. The paper suggests that pharmaceutical treatment of tremors is usually a trial and error process at best. Authors cite Propranolol as being the recommended first line of treatment of essential tremors. However, adverse side effects of health causing fatigue and sexual dysfunction are associated with the drug. According to the US FDA, it’s a category C pregnancy risk, meaning that it’s related to birth defects. Abruptly discontinuing the drug can cause serious heart problems, which is incredibly dangerous for most seniors or people with underlying heart or stress issues.
For those with essential type tremors that don’t respond to pharmaceuticals, doctors may go as far as using focused ultrasound technology to create lesions in the areas of the brain thought to be causing the tremors. Some physicians may even employ surgical methods, like deep brain stimulation, when electrodes are implanted directly into the brain.
Lead author of “The Therapeutic Potential of Cannabinoids for Movement Disorders”, Dr. Benzi Kluger, makes his case for furthering research into cannabis in the 2015 March issue of Movement Disorders. He cites multiple case studies and small clinical trials suggesting improvement of tremors from marijuana, but also says that further investigation into [cannabinoids] is severely needed to fully understand how they work with the brain and body.
Although federal prohibition of cannabis is severely limiting the progress of clinical trials and further investigation into medical marijuana and humans, there is still a mounting body of evidence supporting its use as a treatment for tremors and other conditions.
Marijuana has gained much notoriety recently after many patients with neurodegenerative disorders have begun to share their home videos with the world. Patient videos are incredibly powerful anecdotal evidence for medical marijuana as a treatment for tremors. Videos usually start out showing patients suffering difficult tremors. Then, the patient is shown smoking, vaporizing, or receiving some type of cannabis-based medicine, and within minutes the patient begins to relax and calm.
One 2014 study out of the University of Tel Aviv studied the clinical effect of cannabis on motor skills in 22 Parkinson’s disease patients. They measured the patient’s motor ability and pain at baseline and thirty minutes after smoking cannabis. Reports showed a significant improvement in motor symptoms with no significant adverse effects. Patients even reported sleeping better and having less pain.
While there is no cure for tremors, for most ethical physicians, there is enough evidence to support cannabis, or cannabis-derived medicines, as a recommendation for treating tremors. Cannabis-derived compounds such as CBD have shown neuroprotective antioxidant properties that can help with neurological conditions such as tremors. However, having multiple cannabinoids together is much more medicinally efficient than isolated or synthetic cannabinoids in that it induces a phenomenon called the entourage effect.
Marijuana will affect individuals uniquely depending on various factors including strain type, dosage, a method of administration, and physical and emotional well-being. Consult with a physician and medical marijuana professional about using cannabis and follow the links below to strains that have been reported to help others with their tremors.
· Abusive OG
· Blue Goo
· Blue Magic
· Blue OG
· Blueberry Blast
· Blueberry Cheesecake
· Blueberry Diesel
· Blueberry Haze