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CBD and Epilepsy: What You Need To Know

Teagan McMurtry

By Teagan McMurtry

March 29, 2023

Epilepsy and

(cannabidiol) is a widely studied topic in the world of medicinal marijuana. This is due to several factors, but a main driver has been the anecdotal evidence of the benefits that many patients have experienced.

President Joe Biden signed an act into law on December 2, 2022, called the

. This law has enabled researchers and scientists to study the effects of marijuana, specifically CBD, and the effects it can have on certain health conditions. The signing of this act was strongly endorsed by the Epilepsy Foundation in the United States, because it allows them greater access and support to research regarding the positive benefit CBD can have on epilepsy patients. Let’s learn more about the research surrounding CBD and epilepsy.

What is Epilepsy? 

The

occurs when brain activity becomes abnormal. This abnormal brain behavior can cause seizures, loss of awareness, and/or unusual behavior in the individual. Anyone can be affected by epilepsy. Epilepsy is not more commonly found in specific genders, ages or ethnic backgrounds of individuals. 

Doctor check up x-ray film of the brain by ct scan brain at patient room hospital. wide view.
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Common Seizure Symptoms of Epilepsy

  • Stiff Muscles
  • Uncontrollable Jerking Movements
  • Loss of Consciousness or Awareness
  • Temporary Confusion
  • Psychological Symptoms (sudden fear, anxiety, déjà vu)

, it can affect any part of your brain — therefore affecting any responsibility the brain has in your body. Seizure symptoms often vary in intensity, but usually a person with epilepsy will experience the same type of seizure every time they have an epileptic episode. These types of seizures are usually classified as either or generalized seizures by doctors. 

Focal Seizures

are the most commonly experienced seizures by people with epilepsy. These seizures begin in one side of the brain and are more common in people who have had a brain injury, brain infection, brain tumor or suffered from a stroke. When people with epilepsy experience a focal seizure they are alert and able to recall events. However, they are usually “frozen” and may not be able to respond at the time of the episode. These types of seizures typically do not last longer than two minutes. 

Generalized Seizures

Unlike focal seizures,

involve all areas of the brain. Under the umbrella term generalized seizures, several different types of seizures are possible. These include: absence seizures (staring into space, little body movement, brief loss of awareness, 5-10 seconds long), tonic seizures (stiffness of muscles, can affect consciousness), atonic seizures (loss of muscle control), clonic seizures (jerking muscle movements), myoclonic seizures (brief jerks or twitches in the upper body), tonic-cluster seizures (abrupt loss of consciousness or body stiffening, twitching or shaking). 

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Common Causes of Epilepsy

While the cause of epilepsy can often be difficult to identify, doctors have narrowed down some

. The are listed below. 

  • Severe Head Injury or Trauma
  • Infections: HIV, Meningitis, parasitic infections, and viral encephalitis have been known to cause epilepsy in some people.
  • Developmental Disorders: Autism
  • Prenatal Injury: Injury to the brain before the baby has left the womb. This could be the result of a physical injury, infection, malnutrition or oxygen deficiency. 
  • Brain Abnormalities: Tumors, vascular malformations (AVMs), cavernous malformations 
  • Genetic Influence: Sometimes it just runs in the family! 

Common Epilepsy Treatments

Since epilepsy is a common neurological disorder, there are several treatment options available to people with epilepsy. The

that there are three main treatment pathways for people with epilepsy to choose from. 

  1. Medicine: 66% of patients with epilepsy see a positive benefit from using anti-seizure drugs. . There are many different anti-seizure drugs. Some of the most common are Lamotrigine, .
  2. Surgery: Focal seizures can often be treated with brain surgery since it is occurring from one localized area in the brain. Typical brain surgery for seizures occurs in the temporal lobe. 
  3. Other Treatments: In cases where medicine or surgery are not an option, the patient may choose another form of treatment. Some people with epilepsy get vagus nerve stimulation, while some people have found benefit of following a ketogenic diet, and others have seen seizure reductions from using CBD. 
CBD Oil Bottle on Table With Mother and Daughter in Background.
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CBD for Epilepsy: The Research

Cannabidiol (CBD) has taken over the treatment for epilepsy research space over the last couple of years after much anecdotal evidence has gained public and scientific interest. Much of the research is showing growing evidence to suggest that CBD can be helpful for some people with epilepsy. One cannabis-based medicine (Epidiolex®) has actually been approved by the FDA as a treatment option for people with certain types of epilepsy. 

recalls that patients included in a long-term, follow up study (approximately 96 weeks) experienced a median monthly major seizure reduction of 50%. This study was done on patients with Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut syndromes, as well as tuberous sclerosis complex. The study also experimented with other forms of epilepsy and CBD and saw promising results; however, more research needs to be done. 

Anecdotal Evidence

A breakthrough study published by the

concluded that CBD-based medicine used in children with specific forms of epilepsy (Dravet syndrome) saw a drastic reduction in seizure frequency. The adverse effects included dizziness, diarrhea, sedation, fatigue, elevated liver enzymes and rashes. Most of the adverse effects were deemed non-severe, and therefore noted as a safe treatment. 

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Epidiolex®

Epidiolex®

to be officially offered as a treatment for epilepsy. Epidiolex® is an oil-based treatment specifically for Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome and Dravet syndrome forms of epilepsy. There were a series of three controlled clinical trials using Epidiolex® as a treatment for these forms of epilepsy. The results showed an astonishing reduction in frequency of seizures when compared to the placebo option. 

Everyday CBD for Epilepsy

You may be wondering if everyday, store accessible CBD works in the same way as Epidiolex®. Unfortunately,

that using CBD that you can buy from a dispensary will not provide the same result. This is due to the regulation and manufacturing techniques used to create Epidiolex®. The research showed that 70% of patients who used the non-prescription CBD saw increases in the frequency of their seizures. While the group who was prescribed pharmaceutical CBD saw a 39% reduction in seizure frequency. 

That being said, other

if they are resistant to other medications. CBD oil is generally safe to use, and therefore neurologists say that CBD can prevent some types of seizures in some people and animals. However, it’s always recommended that patients with epilepsy first consult with their trusted medical professional before incorporating CBD into their treatment plan.

Which CBD oil is best for epilepsy?

Courtesy of Charlotte’s Web

Charlotte’s Web

One of the most iconic patients with epilepsy who used CBD oil and brought information around its healing power to the masses was Charlotte Figi. Charlotte’s Web CBD oil is still available, and you can even find organic options in various dosages and flavors.

Courtesy of Penguin

Penguin CBD Oil

This

is a great option for someone looking for a natural CBD oil. The user can choose the strength of the oil. Penguin offers oils in 250mg, 600mg, 1000mg and 2500mg strengths. Per serving, the CBD content is 8.3mg, 20mg, 33.3mg and 83.3mg respectively. Penguin CBD Oil also allows you to choose your flavor depending on your preference. Penguin recommends that you take one full dose under the tongue and wait 60-90 seconds before swallowing. 

Courtesy of CBDfx

CBDfx

is also sold in various strengths. However, these are stronger options if that is what you are looking for. These CBD oils come in 1000mg, 2000mg, 4000 mg and 6000mg. CBDfx states that their CBD oils help calm you down and are great for day-to-day use. The potencies are verified, made in the USA, cruelty-free and solvent-free. 

Courtesy of CBDPure

CBDPure

is third party tested to ensure its purity and potency is top-notch. These CBD oils are made up of three different oils to provide you a therapeutic option. CBDPure claims that their oils are ultra-pure, to give individuals a wide-range of therapeutic benefits. This could be a good CBD oil to try for epilepsy, if approved by your neurologist. 

Courtesy of Spruce CBD

Spruce CBD

has a plethora of raving reviews commending its ability to aid pain, anxiety, stress and overall ailments. Interested folks may consider this CBD oil for epilepsy only if their neurologist approves, since it is 100% natural, lab grade, third party tested and made in the USA. Users of this CBD oil claim it has provided them “sweet relief” in various areas of their lives. 

Key Takeaways

As we have discussed, CBD has been researched extensively in regards to the treatment of epilepsy. As always, it is best to speak to a professional health care practitioner to help you decide whether using CBD oil for epilepsy is a good option for you or the people you care about.

Research points in the direction to say that CBD oil is a safe option for people with epilepsy, but discussing it with your neurologist first is the safest approach. Check out more articles about the medicinal benefits of CBD

Teagan McMurtry

About The Author

Teagan McMurtry

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