If you’ve come this far you’ve no doubt heard about people using cannabis-derived CBD for epilepsy.
Does it really work? What have scientists found so far about using CBD for seizure control?
Each year approximately 150,000 Americans are diagnosed with epilepsy.
In fact, 1 in 26 people will experience recurring seizures during their lifetime.
While the seizures themselves are usually not harmful, the danger lies in the complications that can occur.
Depending on where or what someone is doing when a seizure strikes, there is a risk of sustaining serious injuries such as a head injury, broken bones, or even drowning.
Therefore, preventing seizures from occurring is vital.
Evidence indicates cannabis is an effective treatment for reducing seizures.
Considering that Americans alone spend more than $15.5 billion treating epilepsy every year, why not consider cannabis and CBD for epilepsy?
What causes an epileptic seizure?
In order to understand how cannabis and CBD helps seizures, it’s important to know how a seizure develops in the first place.
Seizures are caused by a sudden rush of electrical activity in the brain.
This surge of electrical impulses can spread to the muscles, causing convulsions or twitching.
While we still know very little when it comes to identifying why epileptic seizures occur, there are some known risk factors such as:
- Brain tumors
- Low levels of sodium or blood sugar
- Head injuries
- Low oxygen during birth
Not everyone who experiences a seizure is epileptic.
Epilepsy is diagnosed by recurrent seizures.
However, patients with epilepsy may experience more than one type of seizure.
Seizures generally fall into one of two categories – generalized and partial.
How is epilepsy treated?
Current treatments for epilepsy aim to reduce the number of seizures and alleviate related symptoms.
Prescription pills are the most common treatment for epilepsy, typically in the form of anticonvulsants.
Anticonvulsants are prescribed to calm hyperactivity in the brain.
However, they also come with a number of nasty side effects such as:
- Skin Rashes
- Blurred Vision
- Impaired Coordination
- Weight Gain
- Memory Problems
- Loss of Appetite
Coping with these side effects can seriously hinder a person’s quality of life, and these drugs affect everyone differently.
Some people experience no side effects while other people experience several.
For people who deal with debilitating side effects, the impact is life altering.
And what if there was another option?
Is cannabis good for epilepsy?
Cannabis as a treatment for epilepsy has made it to the mainstream through stories such as Charlotte Figi, a young girl who went from having 300 grand mal seizures a week to only three or four times a month.
But is there any scientific proof to these claims?
There is substantial evidence which indicates cannabis contains anticonvulsant properties.
Although our understanding is still developing, we know that cannabis can reduce the frequency and intensity of epileptic seizures in SOME patients.
The role of CBD for seizure control
One of the reasons cannabis is an effective treatment for epilepsy has to do with a compound known as CBD.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of at least 113 active cannabinoids in cannabis.
CBD has gained notoriety over the years due to its extensive medical benefits.
Unlike the other most common cannabinoid in cannabis, THC, CBD does not produce euphoric effects.
Research suggests CBD contains anticonvulsant properties.
How does CBD help seizures? Scientists are looking into it…
A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine revealed a positive correlation between cannabidiol and seizure reductions.
The study involved 120 children and teenagers with Dravet Syndrome – a rare genetic epileptic disorder.
Dravet Syndrome is characterized by frequent and prolonged seizures. Often severe, this disorder typically responds poorly to prescription drugs.
During the study, the researchers divided the group in half.
One group received CBD, the others a placebo.
Over the course of a 14-week period, the group who received the CBD saw a significant decrease in the number of seizures.
Children who were given CBD experienced an average number of 5.9 seizures per month, a substantial reduction from 12.4 seizures per month.
The other group of children who were given the placebo showed minimal contrast at 14.1 seizures per month to 14.9.
The principle investigator for the study, Orrin Devinsky, director of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at New York University Langone Medical Center even stated:
“This study clearly established cannabidiol as an effective anti-seizure drug for this disorder and this age group.”
More scientific studies on CBD for epilepsy
Another study from the Children’s Hospital Colorado also indicated the therapeutic value of CBD in reducing epileptic seizures.
Patients suffering from epilepsy were given a cannabis extract containing CBD.
Researchers found that 57% of patients experienced some seizure reduction, while 33% experienced seizure reduction by 50% or more.
These results are astonishing and far from alone.
Just take a recent study from Mexico in March of 2017. The study examined the efficacy of CBD in treating patients with Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy.
The study involved 38 patients.
Using a pure CBD oil, the researchers found that 86% of patients reported a 50 percent reduction in motor seizures, while more than half of patients reported a 75% decrease in overall seizures, and 13% of patients experienced a total remission of seizures.
It’s also important to note that none of the patients experienced negative side effects.
The bottom line in using CBD for epilepsy
The research clearly indicates cannabis-derived CBD has a positive impact in treating epilepsy, particularly the compound cannabidiol.
Yet, the vast majority of patients with epilepsy still do not have safe access to cannabis medicine.