30% of epileptic patients are resistant to conventional seizure control medication. These patients suffer frequent, unpredictable seizures; a phenomenon that affects the quality of their lives.
In 2013, one such patient was reported to have reduced frequency and intensity of seizures. 6-year old Charlotte Figi could not walk, talk, or eat, as she experienced 300 grand mal seizures weekly. But after using CBD oil, the seizures dropped in intensity and the frequency reduced to a few episodes per month. Her story triggered the medical world to research CBD oil as a potential cure for seizures.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabinoid, a chemical found in cannabis. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the more prevalent cannabinoid, it does not cause drowsiness and euphoria, effects of marijuana commonly referred to as “the high”. Actually, CBD has anticonvulsant properties. CBD oil is extracted from Cannabis Sativa.
How CBD treats seizures
Seizures are caused by an abrupt electrical surge in the brain cells. The cause of seizures is currently unknown. Ions are responsible for transmitting electrical surges in the brain.
Anticonvulsant properties in CBD target the brain cells through the calcium ion channels, the GATA system, receptor agonists and antagonists, and sodium ion channels in the brain. The anticonvulsant attaches itself to the brain neurons in the brain thereby inhibiting or controlling the flow of ions in the neurotransmitters.
Limited case studies
That conventional seizure treatments do not work in 30% of the patients is an indicator that something should be done. The FDA cites lack of enough evidence as the main reason for not approving CBD as a treatment for epilepsy. The current studies have been conducted on animals and small groups of people over short periods of time. The FDA requires evidence from thousands of patients over several years.
The lack of enough research is caused by the fact that marijuana is hard to acquire as it is illegal in most states in the US.
A promising future
GW Pharmaceuticals designed a drug known as Epidiolex. The drug is a 99% oil-based CBD extract. The effectiveness of the drug in treating seizures in epileptic patients was studied, and the American Epilepsy Society found it to be effective. The drug reduces not only the frequency of seizures but also their severity.
The study was conducted on 214 patients with Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, common in children and adults; and Dravet Syndrome, common in children. The patients in the study did not respond to conventional treatment. After using Epidiolex, AES found out that;
- The seizures dropped by an average of 54%
- Patients taking other anti-seizure medication responded better to the Epidiolex treatment than those not on the medication.
Concerns over CBD oil treatments
- Self-treatment challenges. Cannabis is illegal in most states. As such the guardians of patients may attempt to acquire weed illegally in the hope that it will help epilepsy victims. The marijuana used has to be high in CBD, which is not always the case.
- Side effects. The side effects of CBD include diarrhea, fatigue, decreased appetite, and sleepiness. The side effects are mild and go away after some time.
If all other epilepsy medication does not work, consider CBD oil. However, consult your state laws first to be sure it is legal in your state.