cbd oil for corticobasal degeneration

Overview of Corticobasal Degeneration

Sarah Rahal, MD, is a double board-certified adult and pediatric neurologist and headache medicine specialist.

Corticobasal degeneration (CBD), also known as corticobasal ganglionic degeneration, is a rare, progressive neurological disorder. In CBD, brain cells atrophy (shrink) and die, and tau protein deposits build up in the brain and interfere with functioning. CBD is considered to be a type of frontotemporal dementia.

Symptoms of CBD

CBD shares several symptoms with Parkinson’s disease. Early symptoms include slow or clumsy movements, tremors or shakiness, muscle weakness, and stiffness. Often, the person with CBD initially has symptoms only on one side of the body. Later, as the disease progresses, both sides are affected.

Some people with CBD experience what is commonly called an "alien limb." This term refers to an arm or leg that seems to move without any direction of the person. It may not even feel like the arm or leg is a part of the person's body.

CBD also affects the ability to speak and understand what others are saying and can affect memory and the ability to do mathematical calculations. Finding the right word may become very difficult. Changes in personality may develop and can include compulsions, socially inappropriate behaviors, and repetitive actions.

Who Gets CBD?

Researchers have not yet determined what causes CBD, although it does not appear to be an inherited disorder. The average age of onset is around 60. There are an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 Americans with this disorder, although it’s possible that there are others who have an inaccurate diagnosis since CBD is often initially misdiagnosed as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease.


As with the other disorders in the frontotemporal dementia group, the treatment of CBD is limited. Medications that may help relieve some of the symptoms for a limited time include cognitive enhancers (drugs used to attempt to improve the ability to think and remember) that are usually prescribed in Alzheimer’s disease, such as cholinesterase inhibitors.

Other people show some improvement in their physical abilities with medications like Sinemet, a drug often used in Parkinson's, Baclofen (which helps reduce muscle rigidity or tightness), or Clonazepam, which may help decrease the muscle jerks.

Physical, occupational, and speech therapy may also be ordered by the physician to try to improve the motor functioning and speech, as well as prevent muscle contractures.


CBD is a progressive disease that often causes immobility after about five years; within 10 years, the person may pass away from complications such as a pulmonary embolism, pneumonia, or another infection.

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Corticobasal degeneration

This table lists symptoms that people with this disease may have. For most diseases, symptoms will vary from person to person. People with the same disease may not have all the symptoms listed. This information comes from a database called the Human Phenotype Ontology (HPO) . The HPO collects information on symptoms that have been described in medical resources. The HPO is updated regularly. Use the HPO ID to access more in-depth information about a symptom.

Cause Cause

Inheritance Inheritance

Find a Specialist Find a Specialist

If you need medical advice, you can look for doctors or other healthcare professionals who have experience with this disease. You may find these specialists through advocacy organizations, clinical trials, or articles published in medical journals. You may also want to contact a university or tertiary medical center in your area, because these centers tend to see more complex cases and have the latest technology and treatments.

If you can’t find a specialist in your local area, try contacting national or international specialists. They may be able to refer you to someone they know through conferences or research efforts. Some specialists may be willing to consult with you or your local doctors over the phone or by email if you can’t travel to them for care.

You can find more tips in our guide, How to Find a Disease Specialist. We also encourage you to explore the rest of this page to find resources that can help you find specialists.

Healthcare Resources

  • You can view a list of frontotemporal dementia research centers on the Frontotemporal Dementia Caregiver Support Center Web site by clicking on “research centers” above.

Research Research

Research helps us better understand diseases and can lead to advances in diagnosis and treatment. This section provides resources to help you learn about medical research and ways to get involved.

Clinical Research Resources

  • ClinicalTrials.gov lists trials that are related to Corticobasal degeneration. Click on the link to go to ClinicalTrials.gov to read descriptions of these studies.

Patient Registry

  • The Advancing Research and Treatment for Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration Consortium (ARTFL) is an integrated group of academic medical centers, patient support organizations, and clinical research resources dedicated to conducting clinical research on conditions that occur in association with frontotemporal lobar degeneration. The ARTFL has a contact registry for patients who wish to be contacted about clinical research opportunities and updates on the progress of the ARTFL research projects.

Organizations Organizations

Support and advocacy groups can help you connect with other patients and families, and they can provide valuable services. Many develop patient-centered information and are the driving force behind research for better treatments and possible cures. They can direct you to research, resources, and services. Many organizations also have experts who serve as medical advisors or provide lists of doctors/clinics. Visit the group’s website or contact them to learn about the services they offer. Inclusion on this list is not an endorsement by GARD.