Although not every person who suffers from epilepsy considers using medical cannabis, there have been reports of reduction in seizures among those who have tried it. The effect is better when they used the CBD oil extracted from cannabis strains.
Of course, research on the benefits of using cannabis among epileptic patients is still ongoing and most patients are advised to consult their doctors if they decide to explore this option. Patients who have uncontrollable and consistent seizures that do not seem to get relief from other forms of drugs could consider the usage of CBD to improve their condition.
The Epilepsy Foundation, having found benefits in the usage of cannabidiol (CBD) and medical marijuana, has started the push to advocate for the legalization of medical cannabis across different states in the US.
What is Epilepsy and What Causes It?
Epilepsy is a condition that effects people of all ages and it is characterized by uncontrollable seizures that vary in magnitude and intensity. The causes are not well known and they may also vary widely from one person to the next. Scientists have recorded genetics as a primary cause of epilepsy. Brain trauma and injury have also been noted as a cause of epileptic seizures among many people.
Once someone has been diagnosed with epilepsy, they are placed under medication that is designed to stabilize the brain receptors. Epileptic seizures occur as a result of disturbances in the brain’s circuit system, causing a sort of 'electrical overload.' This overload creates an involuntary reaction, leading to uncontrolled seizures and convulsions in extreme cases.
The effect of these seizures has been reported to cause fatalities due to accidents stemming from the epileptic episode. The disease has different variations, including Dravet Syndrome, Doose Syndrome, Infantile spasms and Cortial Dysplasia.
CBD Versus THC
CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) are the two most recognized cannabinoids found in marijuana, though there are over 113 other cannabinoids in the drug. This recognition stems from the fact that CBD and THC are the most used of all the marijuana cannabinoids. THC is credited with providing the euphoric 'high' that comes with consuming cannabis. This is better known as being 'psychoactive' in medical circles. On the other hand, CBD is considered to be the right kind of cannabinoid that provides the desired medical effects.
For medical purposes, extracts with a high CBD content are more preferred because they are able to provide the desired result without many side effects. The treatment of medical conditions with cannabis, including the treatment of epilepsy as noted in this article, rely heavily on the high CBD extracts as opposed to high THC extracts.
Latest News in the Treatment of Epilepsy Using Cannabis
Many people become resistant to the drugs for treating epilepsy after prolonged usage. As a result, the frequency and intensity of their seizures tend to increase over time. That makes finding an alternative medication - like cannabis - crucial to preserving the quality of life for patients with epilepsy.
In recent years, high-CBD extracts have been experimented on with much success in trials involving a number of patients. The usage of cannabis to treat epilepsy has been highlighted in the news thanks to outlets like CNN. The most notable case study was that of Charlotte Figi, a 10 year old girl from Colorado. Figi suffered from the debilitating Dravet syndrome and was able to dramatically reduce her seizures after being medicated with high-CBD extracts. Having come from a family that had previous encounters with the disease, Figi had already developed a certain form of resistance to conventional medications for epilepsy.
The largest study on the connection between cannabidiol and treatment of epilepsy was recorded in the Lancet Neurology, a journal dedicated to the study of neurological diseases and their effect on the human brain. The research was led by Professor Orrin Devinsky and his panel of other specialists, who were able to experiment with 162 patients, treating them with a cannabis extract that was especially high in CBD (99 percent). They monitored their patients for about 3 months and documented their findings in this report.
The report shows that 39.5 percent of the patients in the study reported a decrease in the amount of seizures they experienced while 2 percent became completely seizure free. However, there was also a relatively high number of side effects among the users, which included fatigue, diarrhea and drowsiness.
What Scientists Think About Marijuana and Treatment of Epilepsy
Debate about whether cannabis can treat epilepsy has been going on for a long time. However, until recently, not much had been done in the form of research on this connection.
Orrin’s research and published report was the first mainstream and comprehensive study on this subject. The data taken from this study and other smaller ones show that there is a definite connection between the treatment of epilepsy through use of high-CBD cannabis extracts.
Despite those findings, there is still much work to be done, and research is still ongoing. The general consensus is that there is optimism that the drug will be able to provide a breakthrough in the treatment of epilepsy and other neurological conditions in the future. The legalization of marijuana for both medical and recreational use has paved the way for an in-depth analysis of how the drug affects the brain and whether it can be relied upon to provide permanent cures among its users.
Concerns Among Epileptic Patients
Many patients cite a number of concerns in the usage of marijuana to treat their condition. One of these concerns is the addictive capacity of the drug. Although scientists argue that the extract used (CBD) has very low psychoactive capacities, there is still a possibility of addiction among frequent users. The undesired side effects have also discouraged some of these patients from using the drug effectively.
The Future of Cannabis and Treatment of Epilepsy
No one is completely certain about when, but there is no doubt that sooner or later, a direct linkage with cannabis and treatment of epilepsy will be established. When that occurs, the plant's extracts will likely be used widely and as the main drug, not as an additional form of treatment. We hope that the breakthrough comes sooner than later so that relief can be found among those who suffer from epilepsy.