UC San Diego to conduct trial using cannabis for nerve disorder

SAN DIEGO – UC San Diego researchers Tuesday announced plans to conduct a trial on the use of cannabis to treat a common movement disorder known as essential tremor.

The nervous system disorder affects an estimated 10 million American adults and is often confused for Parkinson’s disease because it causes involuntary shaking of body parts, especially the hands. The condition is currently treated with medication originally designed for high blood pressure and seizures.  Surgery is another option.

Researchers plan to conduct the study in early 2019 using an oral cannabis supplement that includes a 20:1 ratio of cannabidiol to THC.  It will be provided by Tilray, a Canada-based cannabis company specializing in the research, cultivation, production and global distribution of cannabis and cannabinoids.

Cannabis is a Schedule 1 drug, as defined by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and availability for research purposes is strictly limited. Tilray received approval from the DEA to import this medical cannabis-derived study drug into the United States from Canada.

“This study will provide key insights,” said Dr. Fatta Nahab, a neurologist at UC San Diego Health. “If found to be safe and effective, cannabis would not only serve as an exciting new addition to the limited treatment options currently available for patients with ET, but it might also provide scientists with new insights on essential tremor.”

Researchers plan to recruit 16 adults with essential tremor for the double-blind study, giving placebos to half of the participants as a control group. The UC San Diego School of Medicine’s Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research will collaborate with UCSD researchers on the study. Nahab estimates that researchers will have results in 2020.

“This work expands CMCR’s commitment to develop an evidence-based approach in the area of cannabinoid therapeutics,” said Dr. Igor Grant, director of the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research. “The oral combination of CBD and THC is the first-of-its-kind to be studied and is especially interesting to CMCR.”