Updated on May 21, 2020. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
People who suffer from tremors struggle with much more than uncontrollable shaking, although that’s unpleasant in itself. They also experience other harsh symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, anxiety and depression, that can impact their quality of life. Medical cannabis for tremors can help ease some of these symptoms and provide you with the relief you need to start living the way you want and used to before having tremors.
How and Why Marijuana Can Be an Effective Treatment for Tremors
Tremors can increase with stress and get better with treatments meant to enhance relaxation. Since medical marijuana might lead to enhanced relaxation, mitigate the stress response and cause euphoric mood, it could also decrease tremors in some people.
Even so, certain cannabinoids in cannabis show promise as a potential therapeutic treatment for neurologic disorders, offering another approach for treatment, particularly when standard medicines fail or cause intolerable side effects.
Medical weed has already been shown to have beneficial effects for:
- Muscle spasms
Researchers are now exploring marijuana’s role in brain disease.
The growing interest for cannabis for tremors isn’t surprising since standard treatments often fall short of the desired effect. Additionally, tremors can change from one moment to another responding to many personal factors like:
- Emotional unrest
- The activities or tasks the person is performing
This means there’s a complicated interaction between the severity of symptoms and physical or psychological well-being and an individual’s activity. Medical pot can potentially impact any of these factors.
Marijuana for tremors could be a great addition or alternative to traditional treatment of a patient suffering from movement disorders like tremors and Parkinson’s disease. Sadly, many of the standard medicines prescribed for a patient with Parkinson’s also come with substantial, negative side effects that aren’t present in cannabis. Cannabis offers a combination of antioxidant, anti-anxiety and pain relief all in one medicine.
Take note, marijuana does have some side effects, including:
What Side Effects or Symptoms of Tremors Can Medical Marijuana Treat?
Cannabis is self-reported to assist individuals with managing symptoms of:
- Uncontrollable shaking
- Muscle spasm
- Nausea (due to medication side effects)
- Loss of appetite (due to medication side effects)
Best Strains of Marijuana to Use for Symptoms of Tremors
When first starting with medical marijuana and tremors treatment, you’ll want to experiment a little to find the right strain for your symptoms. Each strain is created to target a specific symptom or set of symptoms.
For tremors and involuntary muscle movements, try Purple Wreck, Snoop Dogg OG or Shishkaberry.
To treat muscle spasms, try Head Cheese, Green Candy or Snoop Dogg.
If you have trouble sleeping, try Purple Urkle, Tahoe OG Kush or Granddaddy Purple.
To combat nausea, try Blackwater, Purple OG Kush or White Fire OG.
For depression, try Pineapple Express, Jack Herer or Harlequin.
If you experience anxiety, try Amnesia Haze, Chocolate Chunk or Harlequin.
Best Methods of Marijuana Treatment to Use to Treat Side Effects and Symptoms of Tremors
Methods of cannabis for tremors treatment goes far beyond simply smoking the herb. Many people prefer not to smoke because it causes potential harm to your lungs. Therefore, they choose other healthier choices like eating edibles, vaping, applying topicals and drinking their cannabis.
Getting Started on Your Medical Marijuana Treatment for Tremors
Medical weed can provide you with tremor symptom relief. You need to perform a simple search for a qualified cannabis doctor and dispensary. While dispensaries are helpful in making it easier for you to find a cannabis doctor, for your convenience, you can browse for one here on MarijuanaDoctors.com. We save you time and hassle.
When it comes to tremors, you don’t want to hesitate to find relief. Allow us to help improve your symptoms and your quality of life.
What Are Tremors?
Tremors are rhythmic, involuntary muscle contractions that lead to shaking movements in one or more areas of your body. They are common and mostly affect your hands, but may also occur in your:
- Vocal cords
Tremor can occur at different times, with breaks (intermittent) or be constant. Tremor can occur on its own sporadically or as a result of another condition.
Essential tremor incidence increases with age, thereby making age a risk factor. Tremors affect middle-aged and older adults the most — the average age of onset is between 35 and 45 years old. However, it can affect anyone at any age. The condition typically affects both genders equally.
Tremors aren’t life-threatening. But, they can be embarrassing and in some cases, disabling, making it hard or sometimes impossible to perform daily life tasks and work.
Symptoms of Tremors
The main symptoms linked with tremors include:
- Uncontrollable shaking occurring for short periods of time
- Nodding head
- Shaking voice
- Tremors that lessen while resting
- Tremors that become worse with purposeful movement
- Tremors that become worse during periods of emotional stress
Types of Tremors
Tremors are classified most commonly by their cause origin and appearance. There are over 20 forms of tremors. Some common forms are:
- Essential tremor: Essential tremor — previously known as a familial tremor or benign essential tremor — is one of the more common movement disorders. Tremors are mild and remain stable for many years for some individuals. They generally appear on both sides of the body but are frequently seen in the dominant hand. Essential tremor is the most common neurological cause of action or postural tremor, with prevalence estimates at up to 10 percent of the U.S. population.
- Dystonic tremor: Dystonic tremors occur in individuals affected by dystonia — a type of movement disorder where the brain sends incorrect messages causing the muscles to become overactive, resulting in sustained, unwanted movements or abnormal postures.
- Cerebellar tremor: Cerebellar tremors are usually high-amplitude, slow tremors in the arms or legs that occur after a purposeful movement.
- Psychogenic tremor: Psychogenic tremors or functional tremors may appear as any type of tremor. Their symptoms can vary but usually start suddenly and might affect all parts of the body.
- Physiologic tremor: Physiologic tremors occur in all healthy people. They’re rarely noticeable by the eye and usually involve a fine shaking of the fingers and hands.
- Enhanced physiologic tremor: Enhanced physiological tremors are a more noticeable case of physiologic tremors you can easily see. They’re typically not due to a neurological disease, but rather by things like alcohol abuse or withdrawal, other medical conditions such as hypoglycemia and overactive thyroid or a reaction to certain drugs, particularly amphetamines, asthma medicine, corticosteroids, caffeine, neurological disorder drugs, and psychiatric drugs. They’re typically reversible once you correct the cause.
- Parkinsonian tremor: Parkinsonian tremors are a common Parkinson’s disease symptom, but not all individuals with Parkinson’s have tremors.
- Orthostatic tremor: Orthostatic tremor is a rare condition marked by rapid leg muscle contractions while standing. Individuals usually experience feelings of imbalance or unsteadiness, causing them to attempt to walk or sit instantly.
Causes of Tremors
Typically, issues in the deeper parts of your brain that control movements cause tremors. There’s no known cause for many types of tremors. However, some types do appear to run in families and are inherited.
Other diseases or factors may also cause tremors such as:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
- Extreme emotional distress
- Metabolic abnormalities
- Fatigue after exercise
- Brain tumors
- Mercury poisoning
- Panic or anxiety
- Kidney or liver failure
Physical Effects of Tremors
Essential tremor links with other conditions. Other movement disorders, like Parkinson’s disease, link with essential tremor. Some people have reported a link between essential tremor and migraine headaches. Others with essential tremor could also be at a higher risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Mental Effects of Tremors
In some instances, if you’re affected by tremors, you might also develop various non-motor symptoms, including:
- Cognitive impairment
Medications used for treating essential tremor might also raise an individual’s risk of depression.
Current Treatments Available for Tremors and Their Side Effects
There’s currently no cure for most tremors. The proper treatment will depend on the underlying cause. Possible treatment options for tremors include the following:
1. Treating the Underlying Condition
Some tremors improve when you treat the underlying condition. For instance, with psychogenic tremor, in some cases, the tremor will disappear when you treat the patient’s underlying psychological issue.
2. Taking Medications
Symptomatic drug therapy could be an option for a few types of tremor.
Side effects of anti-seizure medications, such as clonazepam, primidone, gabapentin, and topiramate may include:
- Problems with memory
Side effects of Dopamine-like drugs like pramipexole may include:
- Muscle weakness
- Muscle spasm
- Dry mouth
- Memory problems, confusion
- Increased urination
- Nausea, constipation
Side effects of ropinirole may include:
- Weakness, dizziness
- A headache
- Nausea and vomiting
- Increased blood pressure, which could lead to nosebleed, severe headache, irregular heartbeats and pounding in your ears or neck
- Upset stomach
- Flu-like symptoms such as body aches, chills, and fever
Anti-Parkinson and Antiviral Drugs
Your doctor may prescribe other medications, such as amantadine hydrochloride, to lessen Parkinsonian tremors.
Side effects of amantadine hydrochloride may include:
- Confusion, hallucinations
- Dry mouth
- A headache
- Dry eyes
- Blurred vision
- Urinary retention
Side effects of beta-blockers, such as propranolol, include:
- Dry mouth
- Upset stomach
- A headache
Botulinum Toxin (Botox) Injections
Side effects of Botox are:
- Muscle weakness near the injection site
- Trouble swallowing for a few months after treatment
- A headache
- Muscle stiffness
3. Making Lifestyle Changes
Some people see improvements in their tremors when they make changes in certain habits and tremor triggers, such as avoiding caffeine or using alcohol sparingly.
4. Getting Physical Therapy
Physical therapy can help decrease tremor and improve muscle control and coordination for some people. The physical therapist will assess you for:
- Muscle strength
- Tremor positioning
- Muscle control
- Functional skills
They may teach you how to hold your affected arm close to your body or brace your affected limb during a tremor to help gain motion control. Balancing and coordination exercises could help as well.
Some physical therapists might suggest you use things like:
- Special utensils and plates for eating
- Other adaptive equipment
5. Having Focused Ultrasound
A newer treatment for essential tremor uses magnetic resonance images (MRI) to transmit focused ultrasound creating a lesion in the brain’s thalamus area believed responsible for causing the tremors. Physicians only recommend individuals with essential tremor who do not respond well to beta-blockers and anticonvulsant drug have this procedure.
6. Undergoing Deep Brain Stimulation
The most common type of surgical intervention for tremor is deep brain stimulation (DBS). The doctor uses implantable electrodes for sending high-frequency signals to your thalamus. They also use a battery-operated neurostimulator to deliver electrical stimulation to certain brain areas that control movement.
You’ll turn a pulse generator on and off using a hand-held device and a magnet that’s implanted surgically under your skin. This electrical stimulation disables the tremor temporarily, and if necessary, you can reverse it by turning off the implanted electrode. The generator’s batteries last for around five years, and the surgeon will replace them surgically. Doctors use DBS presently for treating essential tremor, Parkinsonian tremor, and dystonia.
7. Getting Thalamotomy Surgery
Thalamotomy surgical intervention could help ease some tremors. A surgeon usually only performs these surgeries when the tremor is severe, and they can’t control it satisfactorily with medication.
The surgical treatment, thalamotomy, involves lesion creation in the thalamus region of your brain. It’s a highly effective treatment for people with cerebellar, essential or Parkinsonian tremor. The surgeon will perform this surgery in a hospital under local anesthesia, so you’ll be awake during the procedure.
Tremor surgery does have common side effects such as:
- Permanent or temporary cognitive impairment, including learning and visual difficulties
- Dysarthria, which is issues with motor control of speech
- Problems with balance
After the surgeon secures your head in a metal frame, they map your brain to find your thalamus.
Recent Developments in Tremors
Researchers are focusing on a couple of areas to understand tremors better and improve upon their treatment options. These include:
1. Learning the Role of Genetics
In recent years, clinical, pathological and neuroepidemiological studies have contributed significantly to the changing view of essential tremor. Studies recently have shown a substantial link between certain genes and the risk for essential tremor. Therefore, researchers are working toward identifying the genetic factors that make individuals more susceptible to tremors to develop new and better options for treatment.
2. Using Imaging to Better Understand Brain Functioning
Researchers from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) are trying to identify brain functions and structures by using non-invasive neuroimaging techniques. They hope to develop specific markers that can track how these markers change as the disease progresses. Other researchers are using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technology to learn more about diseased brain circuits.
Researchers have also been involved in more than 200 clinical trials studying tremors.Medical marijuana could help relieve your Tremors. Learn more about treatment options, strains and what symptoms cannabis can help you with.
ESSENTIAL TREMOR MANAGED WITH LOW DOSE THC-V
In addition to another Parkinson’s disease patient doing very well with THC-V, a 70-year-old woman came in for treatment of Essential Tremor. This was the most severe case of Essential Tremor or ET, I have seen in 39 years. Due to how advanced it was, she could hardly walk and was thrown off by her severe tremor. She was not able to write her name and had trouble swallowing food.
A follow up phone call was very surprising. Within 24 hours of taking three doses of sublingual THC-V, her speech was nearly normal and control of her tremor was highly improved. Also she was able to easily eat, which was very rare for her. I would strongly encourage any patients who failed with CBD to consider THC-V. We still don’t know how much added benefit CBD would have upon the tremors. We should note that the THC-V strain had equal amounts of THC and THC-V. It is fortunate that THC-V takes the edge off of THC in a big way. For sure, in 1:1 amounts of THC:THC-V, there is much less psychoactivity and the psychoactivity that remains is much more pleasant.
I have now seen three Parkinson’s disease patients responding well to THC-V, without CBD, and am becoming very optimistic. Again, it needs to be noted that the THC-V strain contains equal amounts of THC and THC-V, but does not cause nearly the same psychoactive effect and is tolerated well in low doses.
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