Rather than refer to a single condition, cerebral palsy (CP) relates to a group of medical issues that impact coordination and movement. It is a lifelong condition that is caused by a problem with the brain that occurs before, during, or soon after birth. It often occurs when the brain doesn’t develop properly in the womb. However, some children are affected by cerebral palsy because their brain is damaged during or soon after birth.
Causes of cerebral palsy include:
- A serious head injury.
- The child’s mother catching an infection during the pregnancy.
- The brain not getting enough oxygen for a short period during a difficult birth.
- Reduces blood and oxygen supply to the brain.
- Bleeding in the baby’s brain.
Cerebral palsy is the most common childhood motor disability. 1 in 323 American children have been identified with the condition. At present, there is no cure for cerebral palsy, but there are a few interesting studies which suggest that CBD could potentially reduce the symptoms of the condition
How Could CBD Help Cerebral Palsy?
CBD enhances the endocannabinoid system by increasing its ability to retain anandamide. When you take CBD, it blocks FAAH, a fatty acid that breaks down anandamide. As a result, you have more of the compound in your body to manage symptoms such as pain. Anandamide has a similar structure to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), but it does not cause the “high” associated with THC. Our bodies use it to regulate mood, pain sensation and other functions.
Taking CBD also activates receptors for serotonin, vanilloid and adenosine. These compounds control your mood, pain signals and sleep-wake cycle. They improve cerebral palsy symptoms like pain, sleep issues, anxiety and depression.
While we will look at the most important studies on the topic below, it is important to note that there is a lack of hard evidence that links CBD to an improvement in CP symptoms. However, researchers have come up with several theories on how CBD could provide relief for people suffering from cerebral palsy.
CP patients with rigid, locked muscles are in severe pain most of the time. A 2016 study by Barth Wilsey, published in the Journal of Pain, found that cannabis users with a spinal cord injury felt less pain after using the herb.
A 2012 clinical trial by Jody Corey-Bloom, published in CMAJ, was conducted at the San Diego School of Medicine. The study involved giving 30 multiple sclerosis patients a placebo or cannabis. Those who used the cannabis experienced a 33% reduction in spasticity compared to MS patients who consumed the placebo. There were also noticeable reductions in perceived muscle-related pain.
Up to 50% of kids with CP suffer from subsequent seizure disorders. However, CBD is fast gaining a reputation for being able to reduce the number of seizures associated with conditions such as Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) and Dravet syndrome.
Important Studies on the Impact of CBD on Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy has a significant impact on the child and his/her family. While up to 10,000 babies are born with the condition annually, as many as 1,500 are not diagnosed until they go to school. Almost half of children with CP are unable to walk independently and parents are desperate for a solution. At present, the total lifetime care costs to look after a child with cerebral palsy is $1 million. Small wonder then that parents are keen to find out more about what CBD can do for their kids.
Luba Blumkin performed one of the most relevant studies into CBD’s effects on CP with the aid of a marijuana supplier called Tikun Olam. The 2017 study, which was conducted by the Wolfson Medical Center near Israel’s capital, Tel Aviv, analyzed the effect of CBD on 36 children (aged 1-17) with cerebral palsy.
According to Blumkin, the study focused on kids with the highest level of motor disorders. Such children also have associated problems such as painful bowel movements and problems chewing and swallowing. The pain gets worse over time and results in sleeping difficulties. After analyzing the children for two months to ensure their conditions were stable, the team gave the kids CBD oil three times a day via a feeding tube or orally.
Within four months, there was a noticeable improvement in their condition. Blumkin states that the biggest positive change was in their motor function. Other benefits included decreased pain and an improvement in bowel movements and sleep. All of the participants in the study continued taking their existing medication along with the oil.
The Wolfson Medical Center study was extremely important because, up until that point, there was relatively little data on CBD’s effect on cerebral palsy. A survey study* by Adam Hirsh et al., published in the March 2012 edition of the American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, found that marijuana provided the best relief for CP patients when compared to several other medications. However, only 5% of the sample group had ever used the drug for pain.
Final Thoughts on CBD & Cerebral Palsy
Overall, there is a suggestion that CBD could have medical benefits for individuals with cerebral palsy. It could help with symptoms including spasticity, sleep disturbance, and pain. CBD is a non-intoxicating compound of cannabis and is legal.
An increasing number of people living with cerebral palsy claim that CBD has made a significant positive impact. Terri Aghast was born with CP and underwent dozens of surgeries. She spent 12 years in braces and was also wheelchair-bound on several occasions. After using CBD for the first time, she could see the difference in how she walked, and felt the difference throughout her body. Of course, we can’t guarantee that you will have a similar experience because CBD affects everyone differently, but its something that’s definitely worth a shot for those with cerebral palsy.