best cbd for dystonia

Best CBD Oil For Parkinson’s Disease: Does it really help?

Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder globally. It affects the dopamine-producing brain cells, although the cause remains largely unknown. There is no cure, and treatment currently includes medication and surgery. Although Parkinson’s Disease (PD) itself is not fatal, severe complications can arise, and the Centers for Disease Control list it as the 14 th cause of death in the world [1] .

The CBD Oil For Parkinson’s (December. 2020)

  • Editor’s Pick – Spruce CBD
  • Best Priced – Pure CBD
  • Best Absorption – Joy Organics
  • Best Quality – Medterra
  • Best Variety – CBDfx

CBD Oil for Parkinson’s

CBD oil can help in various health issues, significantly in pain and high blood pressure.

Preliminary research [2] has found that CBD oil may help with treating quality of life issues in patients without psychotic symptoms. Another study showed the effectiveness of CBD in the treatment of psychosis in [3] PD patients. The treatment did not worsen motor functions, and one of CBD’s benefits was that it alleviated the psychotic symptoms present in the PD patients. There are clear advantages to using CBD oil for Parkinson’s in the relief of non-movement related symptoms, not to mention it may have neuroprotective effects as part of the treatment.

While few studies exist as to CBD’s potential benefits on movement disorder treatment in PD, clinical and pre-clinical research has shown a reversal of catalepsy in rodent [4] models. And, dose-related improvement in dystonia [5] was noted with CBD oil in five patients in an open-label study on movement disorders. The improvement ranged from 20% – 50% in its effects on dystonia symptoms of Parkinson. More research is needed on CBD’s effects on the nervous system in general and on the motor and non-motor symptoms, specifically in people with Parkinson.

While evidence exists as to the positive effects that CBD may have on PD patients’ quality of life issues, such is not the case for medical marijuana. There is insufficient evidence [6] as of the last updated study in 2020 to indicate medical marijuana’s usefulness to treat PD patients’ motor symptoms. Evidence suggests it should only be considered on a trial basis for non-refractory issues such as pain. Symptoms of Parkinson should be treated with a CBD product as opposed to medical marijuana. Using CBD is safer than medical marijuana for treating Parkinson’s symptoms.

Spruce CBD

Why is it better?

  • Third-party lab tested
  • 100% natural
  • No pesticides
  • Full Spectrum

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The Lineup At A Glance

Best Quality

  • Broad-spectrum
  • Wide variety of products
  • Third-party lab tested

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Best Priced

  • CO2 Extraction
  • Organically grown
  • Affordable
  • No pesticides

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Best Absorption

  • Organic
  • Free from THC
  • Uses nanotechnology

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Best Variety

  • Third-party lab tested
  • Organically grown
  • Non-GMO
  • Wide variety of products
  • Full-spectrum

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Top 5 Best CBD oils for parkinson’s disease

Spruce CBD – Editor’s Pick

Spruce is a family-run CBD brand that offers high-quality, third-party lab tested, full-spectrum oil made from one of the finest, oldest hemp strains in the United States.

  • Third-party lab tested
  • 100% natural
  • No pesticides
  • Full-spectrum
  • Costs more than average
  • Only two potencies

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Spruce is a CBD brand established in Raleigh, NC, in 2018. The company prides itself on making American-made CBD products.

It obtains its CBD from a time-tested strain grown in the United States for over 200 years. Its CBD is grown on family-run organic farms in North Carolina and Kentucky. Spruce is a full-spectrum oil containing both CBD and THC (at levels

This is a pure CBD oil without additives or THC and is highly affordable, making it a solid CBD oil for Parkinson.

  • Broad-spectrum
  • Wide variety of CBD products
  • Third-party lab tested
  • No flavored options

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Medterra is a reputable brand with various CBD products to choose from, including creams, tinctures, edibles, oils, and supplements.

The gold standard CO2 extraction method is used to remove all impurities and THC.

Its wide variety of products all come with a detailed third-party Certificate of Analysis of its potency and contaminants. Better yet, it is certified by the U.S. Hemp Authority, which issues guidelines on stringent hemp processing.

Some of the products come in liposomal form, a highly bioavailable form of CBD. Other products can combin with synergistic compounds such as melatonin or lemon balm.

There is a full refund policy if you send back the product within 30 days, no questions asked!

Pure CBD

CBD Pure offers affordable products that provide excellent results in different dosage options.

  • CO2 extraction
  • Organically grown
  • Affordable
  • No Pesticides
  • Only two choices
  • Limited flavor options

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This organic farm began in 2016 in Colorado with a mission to provide the best CBD product on the market. The farm does not use any pesticides or herbicides on its organic ranch.

The third-party tests all of their products to guarantee freshness and purity to their customers and even provide a downloadable version of their test to any given location.

They are affordable and even offer coupons to help defray expenses. These coupons are available at check-out for all CBD products.

The natural flavoring is because all of the plant residues were removed during CO2 extraction. It is noticeable in the lack of green tint to the oil, and the softgels are tasteless. Their formula allows for the entourage effect’s full expression, and the oil contains all the terpenes, flavonoids, and nutrients from the original plant. THC is

The company prides itself on its transport to all U.S. states and in its freedom from harsh metals, THC, and gluten. It is also organic and Farm Bill compliant [7] .

  • Organic
  • Free from THC
  • Nanotechnology
  • Unclear sourcing
  • Lack of international shipping
  • Not recommended for vegans

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Joy Organic uses only phytocannabinoid-rich hemp that contains a range of 112 cannabinoids in it’s CBD oils! Most of the CBD oils have some THC in them, but Joy Organic does not have a trace of it in their products. However, the user may still benefit from the full entourage effect of all 112 cannabinoids!

The products go through a testing process whereby a Certificate of Quality Assurance and a Certificate of Analysis are generated by both in-house testing and a third-party lab. Both of these are indicators of purity and standard of quality.

Joy Organic prides itself on using only the finest U.S. grown hemp. Standards at American hemp farms are higher than those in other countries.

The oil products come in four flavors, orange, tranquil, natural, and mint. Along with the four flavors come four different potencies, 250, 500, 1000, and 1500 mg per bottle. The oil itself undergoes a process to make it more bioavailable, a nanotechnology emulsion technique that involves breaking down the molecule into smaller, more digestible components.

The company does not charge for its shipping fees, thus saving the customer valuable money.


This innovative company, which started in 2015, hosts a wide variety of products that it sells nationally and internationally.

  • Third-party tested
  • Non-GMO
  • Organically grown
  • Wide variety of products
  • Full-spectrum
  • Important information not readily available
  • Returns are not convenient

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CBDfx extracts its oils from hemp grown in Europe or Kentucky, where it is then shipped to southern California for further processing.

CBDfx uses organic farming techniques and CO2 extraction to guarantee the finest CBD oils it can produce. CO2 is widely considered the safest option for the extraction of hemp.

CBDfx manufactures full-spectrum oil. Being full-spectrum, you are guaranteed the entourage effect that enhances the beneficial functions of CBD. Full-spectrum means you have the advantage of the terpenes, flavonoids, and all the cannabinoids.

The product line is widely diverse, from those supplements made for pets’ use to those for the use of the rest of us like tinctures, oils, drinkable shots, sublingual strips in fun flavors, and capsules. CBD treatment can be fun and full of variety.

What Are the Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease?

The symptoms of Parkinson are as varied as the disease itself. And, the progression of the illness is individual, some experiencing faster declines in their nervous system function than others. Symptoms fall into two broad classes, motor symptoms and non-motor symptoms. Non-motor symptoms include loss of memory, loss of attention span, constipation, early satiety, sleep disorders, anxiety, pain, vision problems, loss of taste or smell, hallucinations, fatigue, psychotic symptoms, and sweating. Motor symptoms include tremor, rigidity, slowness of movement, dystonia (involuntary contraction of muscles), drooling, dizziness or fainting, stooped posture, movement disorders, facial masking, uncontrollable movements, and postural instability.

The slowness of movement (bradykinesia) must be present along with rigidity or tremor for a diagnosis [8] of Parkinson’s disease to be made.

Benefits of CBD Oil for Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s Disease represents an inflammatory condition within the brain. One of CBD’s functions is as an anti-inflammatory compound. It mediates the effects of inflammatory [9] cytokines involved in PD’s neuroinflammation. Thus, one of CBD’s potential advantages is that of an anti-inflammatory. CBD may also act as an antioxidant [10] in the oxidative stress associated with PD. CBD might protect the brain cells from oxidation and inflammation.

People with Parkinson’s Disease may have a decreased quality of life. CBD oil for Parkinson may help [11] relieve anxiety, depression, pain, insomnia, and, thus, improve the quality of life.

CBD Oil Treatment for Parkinson

Does CBD Help Parkinson’s?

CBD hasn’t been used in Parkinson’s Disease patients long term, and there are few studies to rely on for treatment guidance. Recently, a Phase II clinical trial was completed on CBD’s role in the treatment of Parkinson’s Disease. Treatment outcomes were positive [12] for sleep, depression, behavior and emotion, anxiety, and cognition. Improvements in psychotic features were seen as well. About 20-40% of PD patients experience psychotic symptoms [13] . And, treatment with antipsychotics may bring out Parkinson-like symptoms. Taking CBD may relieve pain associated with PD, although research [14] favors THC for this effect.

CBD oil for Parkinson’s symptom treatment can be in the form of edibles, oils, tinctures, ointments, vape cartridges, and creams. Topical CBD can be used for the muscle spasms so common in patients with PD, and oils can be used to relieve symptoms faster. However, data is lacking regarding this mode of delivery. Tinctures also offer speedy effects as a way to take CBD. The only FDA approved way of taking CBD, however, is through the drug Epidiolex although its benefits have been shown from other CBD oils [15] .

What are the Side-Effects of CBD Treatment?

The user of CBD may experience [5] hypotension, dry mouth, sedation, and light-headedness. The most common [16] side-effects of the use of Epidiolex, a CBD isolate, include decreased appetite, diarrhea, liver enzyme elevation, fatigue, malaise, sleep disorders, weight loss, and rashes. Side-effects are seen more often with a higher dose of CBD treatment in people with Parkinson’s Disease.

CBD Oil for Tremors

Acute administration of CBD at a dose of 300 mg significantly reduced tremors [17] in a PD patient put in a high anxiety-producing situation. This study found that having someone take CBD may help with a movement-related disorder in an anxious patient with Parkinson’s..

CBD Oil for Dystonia

An oral dosage of CBD for Parkinson was administered to five patients varying in strength from 100-600 mg/day. Dose-related improvement [5] was noted in all patients, although doses above 300 mg/day increased resting tremor and hypokinesia.

CBD Dosage for Parkinson’s Disease

The recommended dosage for Epidiolex [16] , an FDA-approved CBD drug, is to start at 2.5 mg/kg/d twice daily up to a maximum of 10- 20 mg/kg/d. This dose may be higher than what is used in many clinical trials on CBD. This means that an adult weighing 130 lbs., which is 59 kg (130 lbs divided by 2.2 lb/kg), would make 20 x 59 kg = 1180 milligrams of CBD/day taken in divided doses. This is much higher than what we are seeing in current studies on CBD oil and PD. Doses in clinical trials using CBD oil are using 100-600 mg/day on people with Parkinson’s and finding increased side-effects with dosages higher than 300 [5] mg/day. The oil may precipitate unwanted effects at higher doses of CBD. More research is needed to come up with the number of milligrams of CBD to use and the dose of CBD to give per day.

How to Administer CBD Oil for Parkinson’s Disease

Commercial CBD oil may come in 30 ml bottles with a 1 ml dropper in it. The 30 ml vial concentration will differ, so if you have a 500-milligram bottle, each 1 ml dropper will contain 50 milligrams in one dropper-full of CBD. The label should have a table of contents indicating the dose per bottle and dropper.

For the fastest absorption and effects of CBD, squeeze the oil onto the back of the underside of your tongue for rapid absorption through the blood vessel located directly under the tongue. Most of the CBD bypasses the gastrointestinal tract, and this increases the rate of absorption.

The fastest absorption method is achieved with the use of vape pens. You may experience effects within minutes of using a vape pen. CBD’s effects are noted within minutes of vaping.

How to Use CBD Oil for Parkinson’s Disease

Pay attention to your dosage in your use of CBD. It is recommended that you ask your health professional for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Read the label on the bottle for dosage guidance or ask your health care professional for medical advice. It is always good to start with low doses and go slow, paying close attention to how you feel and at what dose your symptoms may improve without making things worse. In no time, you may experience an increase in your quality of life for the long term.

Frequently Asked Questions

Since research is limited on THC and its effects in Parkinson’s patients, the best CBD oil to go with is purified to contain mostly CBD with little to no THC. A high-quality CBD product that has a Certificate of Analysis and is third-party tested should be chosen.

Yes. It appears that CBD at doses greater than 300 mg/day [16] can aggravate resting tremors and promotes a slowing of movement or bradykinesia.

Ewe-2 Kush is probably the best strain with 1% THC for the person diagnosed with Parkinson.

CBD’s benefits include the dampening of non-motor and motor symptoms associated with PD. The use of CBD may improve the quality of life of PD patients.

Currently, 33 states [14] have legalized CBD for medical use. CBD is legal to sell in all states.

Yes. Potential drug interactions may occur with drugs metabolized by the CYP2C19 enzyme pathway, which include Soma, valproic acid, warfarin, diazepam, Dilantin, and proton-pump inhibitors. Other drug interactions may occur that lessens the effects of amlodipine, atorvastatin, bupropion, fentanyl, topiramate, and others. It is best to consult a pharmacist or other health professional for drug interactions.

Sandalwood oil [20] may act as a neuroprotectant for brain disorders through its antioxidant actions and protection against reactive oxygen species (ROS).

Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here

  1. Parkinson’s Foundation. What Is Parkinson’s?. Available from:
  2. Marcos Hortes N Chagas, Antonio W Zuardi, Vitor Tumas, et al. 2014. Effects of cannabidiol in the treatment of patients with Parkinson’s disease: An exploratory double-blind trial. Available from:
  3. AW Zuardi, Jas Crippa, JEC Hallak. 2008 [Sep.18, 2008]. Cannabidiol for the treatment of psychosis in Parkinson’s disease. Available from:
  4. Fernanda F. Peres, Alvaro C. Lima, Jaime E. C. Hallak, José A. Crippa, Regina H. Silva & Vanessa C. Abílio. 2018 [May 11, 2018]. Cannabidiol as a Promising Strategy to Treat and Prevent Movement Disorders? Available from:
  5. Paul Consroe, Reuven Sandyk & Stuart R. Snider. 2009. Open label evaluation of cannabidiol in dystonic movement disorders. Available from:
  6. Anastasia Bougea, Christos Koros, Athina-Maria Simitsi, Chrysa Chrysovitsanou, Athanasios Leonardos & Leonidas Stefanis. 2020. Medical cannabis as an alternative therapeutics for Parkinsons’ disease: Systematic review. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. Available from:
  7. Amy Abernethy. 2019 [July 25, 2019]. Hemp Production and the 2018 Farm Bill. Available from:
  8. Parkinson’s Foundation. Movement Symptoms. Available from:
  9. Fernanda F. Peres, Alvaro C. Lima, Jaime E. C. Hallak, José A. Crippa, Regina H. Silva & Vanessa C. Abílio. 2018 [May 11, 2018]. Cannabidiol as a Promising Strategy to Treat and Prevent Movement Disorders? Available from:
  10. Moisés García-Arencibia, Sara Gonzáleza, Eva de Lago, José A.Ramos, Raphael Mechoulam, Javier Fernández-Ruiz. 2007 [Feb. 23, 2007]. Evaluation of the neuroprotective effect of cannabinoids in a rat model of Parkinson’s disease: Importance of antioxidant and cannabinoid receptor-independent properties, 1134, 162-170. Brain Research. Available from:
  11. Carlos R. Rieder. 2020 [Mar. 24, 2020]. Cannabidiol in Parkinson’s disease, 42(2), 126–127. Available from:
  12. Christopher S. Pauli, Matthieu Conroy, Brian D. Vanden Heuvel & Sang-Hyuck Park. 2020. Cannabidiol Drugs Clinical Trial Outcomes and Adverse Effects. Available from:
  13. Laura B. Zahodne & Hubert H. Fernandez. 2011 [Feb. 28, 2011]. Parkinson’s Psychosis. Available from:


  • Natalie M. Treese. 2020 [Mar. 19, 2020]. Pharmacist’s Guide to CBD Oil. Available from:
  • Junior, N.C.F., dos- Santos-Pereira, M., Guimarães, F.S. et al. 2020. Cannabidiol and Cannabinoid Compounds as Potential Strategies for Treating Parkinson’s Disease and L-DOPA-Induced Dyskinesia, 37, 12–29. Neurotox Res. Available from:
  • Greenwich Biosciences, Inc. 2018. Epidiolex. Available from:
  • Stephanie Martins de Faria, Daiene de Morais Fabrício, Vitor Tumas. 2020. Effects of acute cannabidiol administration on anxiety and tremors induced by a Simulated Public Speaking Test in patients with Parkinson’s disease. Available from:
  • A. Mohankumar, G. Shanmugam, D. Kalaiselvi, C. Levenson, S. Nivitha, G. Thiruppathi & P. Sundararaj. 2018. East Indian sandalwood (Santalum album L.) oil confers neuroprotection and geroprotection in Caenorhabditis elegans via activating SKN-1/Nrf2 signaling pathway. Available from:
  • About Kathy Shattler, MS, RDN

    Kathy Shattler has been a Registered Dietitian for over 25 years and currently runs her own Telehealth Clinic while freelance writing in her spare time. She graduated with a Master of Science degree in Human Nutrition from Michigan State University and has a plethora of experience in both clinical nutrition as well as public health. She has been deemed a trailblazer in her profession and continues to strive for excellence in public health education in integrative medicine and in her professional writing career.

    Is CBD oil beneficial to alleviating the motor and non-motor symptoms associated with Parkinson’s Disease in 2020 research? Let's find out


    Updated on June 15, 2020. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer

    You might be aware of medical marijuana and its ability to offer symptom relief of major diseases like cancer, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis (MS). However, you might not know that medical marijuana for dystonia can help if you or a loved one has the condition. Dystonia afflicts close to 300,000 people in North America and can interfere with daily living.

    Marijuana and Dystonia

    Types of dystonias depend on the regions of the body they affect. Because so much of the disease entails muscle spasms and involuntary contractions, cannabidiol treatment, or medical marijuana, can be incredibly beneficial for treating involuntary muscle spasms. There has been research to support CBD treatment as particularly beneficial for reducing dystonic movement disorders.

    How and Why Marijuana Is an Effective Treatment for Dystonia

    Research has found that medical cannabis for dystonia does improve symptoms. Cannabis contains two main cannabinoids that activate the CB1 and CB2 receptors of your endocannabinoid system. These are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), and they help regulate the inhibitory and excitatory neurotransmitters necessary to diminish muscle tremors and spasticity.

    A study of Sativex, or cannabis medication, in people who had spasticity symptoms due to MS revealed that after four weeks of weed treatment, the spasms traditional efforts didn’t work on were significantly reduced.

    The Journal of Pain and Symptom Management published a 2002 case study that reported improved dystonia symptoms in a 42-year-old chronic pain patient. Her subjective pain score, which was at a nine, fell to zero after she inhaled the cannabis smoke. She also needed no additional analgesic drugs for the next 48 hours. Researchers said no other types of treatment provided her with significant relief in her condition.

    What Symptoms of Dystonia Can Marijuana Treat?

    Contorting muscles and repetitive spasms not only characterize dystonia, but they’re also often accompanied by neuropathic pain. The pain can target any extremity, including your hands. Disabling and painful dystonias can occur in your shoulder, neck and facial areas, and prevent you from being able to speak, move or walk if left untreated.

    Now, although cannabis for dystonia can’t cure the condition or reverse any side effects, it’s been said that it can, in many cases, eliminate your pain and cause your muscles to unclench and relax to the point where you’re not severely disabled anymore and may be able to function and move normally.

    CBD does seem to help relieve some muscle spasming associated with dystonia but doesn’t appear to help as much as it does when it’s combined with high levels of THC. In treatments of CBD without THC, patients don’t seem to get the relief from residual pain.

    Marijuana for dystonia helps ease symptoms of severe pain, nausea and appetite loss due to its antiemetic, analgesic and appetite-stimulating properties. It also has antispasmodic properties that help counteract the involuntary movements that go along with dystonia.

    Best Strains of Marijuana to Use for Dystonia

    Not only does dystonia cause symptoms of insomnia, tremors and pain similar to restless leg syndrome, but there may also be secondary effects of the continuous brain and muscle activity, including:

    • Blurred vision
    • Mental stress
    • Depression
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Mood swings
    • Disrupted sleep patterns

    When you have dystonia, it affects your overall well-being and ability to function normally each day, which can be stressful and depressing. Fortunately, there are some cannabis and dystonia strains that can help with a number of symptoms. The strains for each symptom are as follows:

    For pain related to dystonia, try:

    • Death Star
    • Purple Trainwreck
    • Shishkaberry

    For tremors and involuntary muscle movements associated with dystonia, try:

    • Purple Wreck
    • Snoop Dogg OG
    • Shishkaberry

    For insomnia related to dystonia, try:

    • Death Star
    • Afgoo
    • Purple Wreck

    For depression and stress accompanying dystonia, try:

    • Orange Kush
    • Death Star
    • White Berry

    Take the Next Steps in Your Fight Against Dystonia by Finding a Dispensary

    Of course, you’ll find some conventional treatments for dystonia. For some people, they may be enough. For others, however, they may find these treatments don’t offer much relief, particularly for pain and muscle spasms, so they look to cannabis.

    Medical marijuana can help provide relief from dystonia symptoms. All it takes is a simple search for a medical marijuana doctor or dispensary. Dispensaries make it much easier to find prescribing doctors and get your medical weed quickly. There’s no hassle, and you save time.

    When it comes to pain, you don’t want to waste any time finding relief. Here at Marijuana Doctors, we can help you improve your quality of life while living with dystonia. There can be ups and downs with dystonia, but living successfully with it is possible.

    More Information About Medical Marijuana and Dystonia

    • Best Strands of Cannabinoid for Focal Dystonia
    • How Cannabis Can Help Patients with Cervical Dystonia
    • How Do Cannabinoids Control Dystonia Symptoms

    What Is Dystonia?

    Dystonia is a movement disorder causing your muscles to involuntarily contract. These contractions lead to repetitive movements and twisting, which can be painful at times. Researchers believe faulty brain signals cause muscles to pull on your body incorrectly, spasm and force your body to twist, move repetitively and form into an abnormal posture. Dystonic tremors sometimes accompany these symptoms.

    Types of dystonia can be divided into three groups:

    • Idiopathic dystonia refers to dystonia that occurs without an apparent cause.
    • Genetic dystonia refers to dystonia genetically present at birth.
    • Acquired dystonia, also known as secondary dystonia, has resulted from either environmental or other forms of brain damage.

    Some individuals inherit dystonia. Others have another disease that causes it. Dystonia can be so severe voluntary movements can make the condition worse.

    Possible causes of the condition are:

    • Genetic inheritance
    • Carbon monoxide and lead poisoning
    • Physical trauma
    • Stroke
    • Infections

    Pharmaceutical drugs may cause dystonia, particularly neuroleptics, which are often used to treat bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

    Is There a Cure for Dystonia?

    There’s no known cure for dystonia as of yet. However, in many cases, the condition doesn’t shorten the lifespan of a person. Dystonia is thought to come from a part of your brain known as basal ganglia.

    This group of subcortical nuclei in your brain monitors the speed of movement and controls undesired actions. They’re responsible for sending your muscles signals that instruct them when to move and when to stop moving. With dystonia, these basal ganglia instructions become chaotic and irregular and cause your unwanted muscle contractions and movements.

    History of Dystonia

    Dystonia’s clinical features were first announced in 1911, reports the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society. This was when three authors described several children afflicted by a syndrome that represented genetic cases of DYT1 dystonia.

    In 1975, more than six decades later, the first dystonia conference was held in New York. During this time, dystonia was identified, in addition to severe generalized forms, to encompass poorly progressive segmental and focal cases with adulthood onset like torticollis, blepharospasm and writer’s cramp.

    These forms were previously classified among neuroses and were considered independent disorders. In 1984, dystonia received a modern definition. Years after, it became apparent dystonia syndromes are diverse and numerous, prompting the introduction of new terminological descriptors, i.e. heredodegenerative dystonias, dystonia plus, etc., and other classifications. Dystonia’s clinical complexity became fully recognized.

    Symptoms of Dystonia

    In many cases, dystonia is displayed as abnormal posturing. Opposing muscles will contract at the same time as if competing for total control over a particular part of the body. There are many forms of dystonia, and each case varies in severity.

    Symptoms may include:

    • Tremors
    • Difficulty producing speech
    • Trembling within the diaphragm while breathing
    • Lack of sleep
    • Heightened anxiety and stress
    • Similar pain to restless leg syndrome

    Due to the constant muscle and brain activity, disturbed sleeping patterns, mood swings, mental stresses, difficulty concentrating and blurred vision are all common symptoms.

    Effects of Dystonia

    Complications depend on the type of dystonia and may include:

    • Physical disabilities that impact how you perform specific tasks and daily activities.
    • Difficulty with speech, swallowing and jaw movement.
    • Functional blindness affecting your eyelids.
    • Fatigue and pain due to repetitive muscle contractions.
    • Anxiety, depression and social withdrawal.

    Some areas of your body and its functions that dystonia may affect include the following.

    Common with cervical dystonia, you experience contractions that cause you to twist your head and turn it to one side. You may also pull forward or backward that may cause pain.

    Forearm and Hand

    Certain forms of dystonia occur when you’re performing a repetitive activity, like playing a musical instrument or writing.

    Tongue or Jaw

    Typical with oromandibular dystonia, you may experience drooling, slurred speech and difficulty swallowing or chewing. This type of dystonia can become painful and frequently occurs together with blepharospasms or cervical dystonia.

    Vocal Cords and Voice Box

    You may experience a whispering or tight voice, particularly if you have spasmodic dystonia, which affects the muscles of the tongue and mouth, which may impact voice and speech. You might also find you have difficulty swallowing. Voice, speech or specialized swallowing therapy may help, along with botulinum toxin injections.


    Common with blepharospasms, you may experience involuntary spasms or rapid blinking that cause your eyes to close and result in you becoming functionally blind. Although not typically painful, the spasms may increase when you’re under stress, in bright light or interacting with others. Your eyes may also feel dry.

    Dystonia gradually develops in most cases. An exception to this may include acute dystonic reactions caused by certain antipsychotic medications and rapid-onset dystonia parkinsonism that could come on within hours or days.

    Spasms, Cramping and Speech

    You may begin experiencing mild symptoms of dystonia at first, such as difficulty chewing or subtle jaw or facial spasms that suggest early jaw or face dystonia. Your speech may change in rhythm or pitch that suggests early signs of spasmodic or laryngeal dysphonia. Early signs of cervical dystonia could cause mild head jerking movements, local neck discomfort or stiff neck.

    Your hands may cramp up or become fatigued during manual activities like writing, or you may have difficulty walking, suggesting limb dystonia. Children developing generalized dystonia might start out complaining of leg cramps or a foot turning in. In some cases, an injury to a particular body area may cause focal dystonia.


    The dystonia condition can affect your breathing in a few ways. Severe neck dystonia may impact your upper airway and cause you difficulty breathing. You may experience a shortness of breath with dystonia that involves your vocal cords when they close tight, usually when you speak. When you breathe, it requires muscles located between your ribs and your diaphragm, the latter of which is a major muscle of respiration.

    Your muscles between your ribs may become stiff due to dystonia causing shortness of breath. Sometimes it may affect your diaphragm. Also, if your dystonia affects your spine, it could cause your torso to twist and make it hard for your lungs to expand when you breathe, causing you shortness of breath.

    A Few Important Dystonia Statistics

    Statistics on dystonia from the American Association of Neurological Surgeons reveal that:

    • Over 250,000 people in the United States have the condition.
    • Dystonia is the third-most-common type of movement disorder, behind Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor.
    • The older a person is at onset, the more potential for the disorder remaining moderate.
    • Focal dystonia or adult-onset dystonia seems to afflict people between the ages 40 through 50
    • Women are three times more likely to get focal dystonia than men.
    • Among the individuals with focal dystonia, up to 30 percent have spasms next to the primary area.
    • Childhood or adolescent onset of specific primary dystonias have been linked to genetic mutations.

    Also, researchers have identified more than 15 different genetic mutations that contribute to dystonia, reports the National Institutes of Health.

    Current Treatments Available for Dystonia and Their Side Effects

    The initial step in treating dystonia is to learn about the underlying cause. Determining the root cause of your dystonia may have a direct impact on your course of treatment. For instance, a person with primary focal dystonia may require a slightly different treatment approach than an individual who has dystonia related to another neurological disorder.

    Because dystonia presents so rarely and varies entirely on a case-by-case basis, standard treatment does not exist for the condition. Physical interventions such as physical therapy have not shown significant progress in their ability to heal patients, though it is not said to worsen the condition. Occupational therapists are often paired with patients suffering from symptoms of dystonia to assist them in daily living activities.

    Because physiotherapy has proven useful for patients with dystonia-like symptoms with Parkinson’s disease, the same method of treatment has been used on patients with dystonia. Anti-Parkinson’s medications have been utilized for patients suffering from dystonia as well.

    The type of treatment you receive typically depends on what causes your dystonia. In cases of secondary dystonia, treating the underlying condition may improve your symptoms.

    In addition to medical marijuana for dystonia, In general, there are four standard methods for treating dystonia, depending on the area of your body it affects and how severe your symptoms are. These approaches include the following.

    Botulinum Toxin Injections for Dystonia

    Most forms of focal dystonia are treated with botulinum toxin injections. The doctor may inject small amounts of this toxin into your overactive muscles to change the muscle firing and calm the abnormal movements, and it usually lasts for a few months at a time.

    Side effects of Botox include:

    • Rash
    • Allergic reactions
    • Itching
    • Back or neck pain
    • Headache
    • Difficulty swallowing
    • Muscle stiffness or weakness
    • Shortness of breath
    • Diarrhea
    • Nausea
    • Loss of appetite
    • Stomach pain

    Talk to your doctor about these side effects and if the benefits of this treatment would outweigh the risks.

    Medications for Dystonia

    Oral medications are usually given for multifocal, segmental and generalized dystonia. These types of medications include anticholinergic drugs and muscle relaxants or anti-spastic agents.

    Side effects of anticholinergic drugs may include:

    • Blurry vision
    • Dry mouth
    • Drowsiness
    • Constipation
    • Hallucinations
    • Sedation
    • Delirium
    • Memory impairment
    • Decreased sweating
    • Confusion
    • Decreased saliva
    • Difficulty urinating

    Antispastic agents or muscle relaxants come with side effects, too, so be sure you’re only taking them under your doctor’s advice and that you’re being monitored carefully. Some common side effects include drowsiness and dizziness, and the drug carries the potential for abuse.

    Physical Therapy for Dystonia

    Research into the benefits of physical therapy for dystonia patients remains limited. However, physical intervention is employed to help people with various aspects of daily living. These include improving balance, enhancing mobility, increasing stamina, improving posture and making it easier to accomplish daily living functions, such as going to the bathroom, dressing and undressing, bathing and completing other everyday tasks.

    Physical therapy activities for dystonia include strengthening and stretching exercises, along with techniques to increase the range of motion and fine motor skills. Exercises are intended to not only build up underutilized muscles but also prevent weakening of bones. As dystonia is a neurological condition, physical therapy interventions don’t treat the disease directly but rather the symptoms and secondary effects that accompany the disorder.

    Surgery for Dystonia

    If you have more severe or widespread dystonia that is debilitating, you may benefit from surgery if other treatments have proven ineffective. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is the most current and widely used surgical approach.

    The surgeon implants thin electrodes into a part of your brain’s basal ganglia in this surgery. The electrodes are attached to a device similar to a pacemaker and implanted in your chest wall. The electrodes then distribute controlled electrical pulses to improve your symptoms of dystonia.

    See how medical marijuana could help relieve your dystonia symptoms. Find patient reviews on local doctors and information on treatment options. ]]>