CBD for Epilepsy: Can Cannabis Help with Seizures?
Before the use of marijuana was explored beyond its known recreational effects, many people were unaware of the medicinal properties that it has. The legalization of marijuana in certain states and the continued exploration of its medical benefits has opened a doorway that has changed many people’s lives, including those who suffer from epilepsy. The acceptance of marijuana has also opened another doorway as well.
However the scientific exploration of the uses of CBD or cannabidiol has sprung up. CBD is one of the active ingredients in cannabis, much like THC. It provides many benefits without the accompanying psychoactive effects.
Although we cannot make any health claims as to how CBD can help with seizures or epilepsy, we do have users and customers that report to us. After a few questions, we discovered many people are taking CBD to help minimize seizures and the effects.
What is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a chronic disorder affecting the central nervous system. It features seizures that are recurrent and unprovoked. Those who suffer from epilepsy can have seizures for a variety of reasons. They have varying levels of severity along with frequency when it comes to their seizures. In addition, those suffering from epilepsy will typically deal with other neurological issues that worsen their condition.
Epilepsy is characterized by abnormal brain activity that causes seizures and results in symptoms such as anxiety, fear, staring into space for a brief period of time, temporary and unexplained confusion. It can also cause a sudden loss of awareness or consciousness. There will be moments that feature uncontrollable convulsions and jerking motions of the arms and legs.
Seizures that take place in those suffering from epilepsy are divided into two different categories: focal and generalized. It is important to note that seizures can cross between categories, especially when dealing with a specific disorder within the epilepsy umbrella.
Focal seizures, also known as partial seizures, are seizures that take place due to abnormal brain activity that is contained to one part of the brain. With focal seizures, there are two types that one can experience.
The first kind of seizure is a focal seizure that doesn’t feature a lack of consciousness. It comes along with symptoms such as the altering emotions and perception, involuntary body part movements, and random sensory issues like flashing lights, tingling, and dizziness.
The second seizure kind of focal seizure features impaired awareness and results in symptoms such as a shift or loss of awareness and consciousness. They can also start staring into space, not responding normally to your immediate environment, or engaging in repetitive behaviors like swallowing or rubbing your hands together.
The second category of seizures that may take place in epileptics, known as generalized seizures. This stems from abnormal brain activity that takes place in all areas of the brain. Rather than symptoms, generalized seizures are broken down into six different types, which are listed below.
- Myoclonic seizures: These are characterized by sudden and random jerking or twitching of the arms and legs.
- Tonic seizures: These are characterized by the sudden stiffening of muscles in the legs, arms, and back and may cause the affected to drop to the ground.
- Tonic-clonic seizures: These are the seizures that are most generally thought of and feature a loss of consciousness, uncontrollable shaking, and the occasional loss of bladder control or tongue biting.
- Absence seizures: These are characterized by staring into space due to a brief loss of awareness and the accompaniment of subtle and body movements.
- Clonic seizures: These are characterized by repetitive, rhythmic movements in muscles that typically affect the arms, neck, and face.
- Atonic seizures: These are characterized by the sudden loss of control of the muscles that cause epileptics to fall down.
Epilepsy is a condition in which those affected can suffer from varying degrees of seizures and symptoms. A diagnosis for the condition is only made once seizures have taken place. The brain has been monitored for electrical activity or potential abnormalities that contribute to the constant occurrence of the seizures.
What Causes Seizures?
The brain itself is a complex organ. The reasons behind seizures are vast and varied. Some of the most common causes behind seizures include dehydration, a lack of sleep or exhaustion, illegal drug use such as cocaine or ecstasy, missing medication that is designed to prevent seizures, or taking drugs that interrupt the efficiency of epileptic medication.
Some of the most widely believed causes of this condition include a lack of oxygen during birth, dangerous infections such as meningitis or injuries such as strokes that damage the brain. You can also get it from head injuries that occur throughout a person’s life.
How Can CBD Help With Epilepsy?
Inside of the body, there is a system of receptors known as the endocannabinoids system.
The endocannabinoid system consists of two receptors, CB1 and CB2 receptors. It also has a naturally produced chemical, known as endocannabinoids that help to regulate all of the processes of the body. The only thing that can prevent this system from working the way it's supposed to is the introduction of a disease that throws the chemical production out of loop. It can prevent regulation and contributes to the symptoms experienced in the condition.
When someone’s system is thrown off course, cannabinoid production needs to be set on track once more in order to ease the symptoms of the condition being experienced. Since the body can no longer produce endocannabinoids properly, we must respond by introducing phytocannabinoids to the body. These are cannabis-based cannabinoids. One of the most well-known phytocannabinoids is CBD.
While endocannabinoid receptors are located throughout the entire body, they are located in only two main places that we need to focus on: the central nervous system and the brain.
FDA Approved Drug: Epidiolex
For some, epilepsy is not a condition that stops an individual from living their lives. For others, however, there are certain forms of epilepsy that can create major functional issues, namely Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. This affects infants and young children. It can form the Dravet syndrome which is a condition that manifests within the first year of infancy and results in lifelong seizure activity and developmental issues.
Treating conditions such as these as quickly as possible is of the utmost importance. CBD has proven effective in battling these forms of epilepsy through first FDA approved CBD drug called Epidiolex. It now provides hope for the parents of children and the children themselves who are dealing with these rare and severe forms of epilepsy.
The controlled studies showed drastic improvements in those dealing with the conditions. Many were treated for an extensive period of time, showing CBD’s ability to effectively tackle the driving forces behind epileptic behavior.
Not only this, but this major advancement also shows the potential medical use of CBD as a whole. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb made this statement in the FDA press release about the newly approved medication:
“This approval serves as a reminder that advancing sound development programs that properly evaluate active ingredients contained in marijuana can lead to important medical therapies. And, the FDA is committed to this kind of careful scientific research and drug development,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. “Controlled clinical trials testing the safety and efficacy of a drug, along with careful review through the FDA’s drug approval process, is the most appropriate way to bring marijuana-derived treatments to patients. Because of the adequate and well-controlled clinical studies that supported this approval, prescribers can have confidence in the drug’s uniform strength and consistent delivery that support appropriate dosing needed for treating patients with these complex and serious epilepsy syndromes. We’ll continue to support rigorous scientific research on the potential medical uses of marijuana-derived products and work with product developers who are interested in bringing patients safe and effective, high quality products…”
How to Consume CBD?
Now that we’ve reviewed what CBD can possibly do and what it is, we must also talk about how one can use CBD. Much like many cannabis products, there are several methods in which one can introduce CBD into the body. Learning how to find the perfect ratio of CBD to THC can definitely help.
Here are some of the most popular methods that those suffering from epilepsy can utilize to see if it works for them.
Tinctures and Oils
CBD tincture oils are oils that often come bottled with a special dropper so that users can ingest the CBD oil orally or sublingually (under the tongue). Tinctures tend to be one of the methods that are easily absorbed in the body and come in much more potent doses than those that can be found in alternative methods. In addition, you are typically better able to dose your CBD when using a tincture oil as many of the other methods simply put CBD into their product without telling you how much is available.
The good thing is that there are many different flavors to choose from that. You can check the reviews before you buy them. If you are trying to find something that can be quickly absorbed in the bloodstream and you do not mind consuming oil, tinctures may be the right choice for you.
Vaping CBD is a great way for users to consume in an effective manner. For those who are unsure of what this is, vaping refers to the process of heating a substance up to the point of vaporization. The substance releases the active ingredients when vaporized and are then inhaled into the lungs. This form of CBD is often felt the fastest as the CBD is pulled directly into the body and disbursed throughout it.
Another benefit that comes with using CBD vape juice is that the vaporizers that house these substances are simple to use and can be brought with you anywhere. For example, most CBD vape products are small vape pens that are either disposable or come with refillable cartridge. You can use your device time and time again.
With these kinds of devices, all you have to do is press a button and inhale or simply inhale and the CBD will be delivered to you. If you are someone who has a larger vaporizer, there are vape juices that can be used to fill the vaporizer as you continue to vape. The only notable downside to this method is that you typically cannot get an accurate dosage, which means that there is a lot of guesswork that comes into play.
CBD edibles are tasty treats that have cannabidiol on the list of active ingredients. Once ingested, the CBD is introduced to the body in order to provide the benefits that help to combat the symptoms of epilepsy. Unlike the two previous methods, edibles are a little bit slower to get the CBD to your body because it takes longer to reach into the bloodstream. On the flip side, edibles have a longer lasting effect.
Not only are edibles effective, but they come in a variety of different forms such as baked goods and gummies that allow you to truly enjoy the CBD experience from start to finish.
While edibles aren’t for those in need of immediate relief, they are great ways to have your CBD and enjoy it too.
Epilepsy is a versatile condition. It can range from mild symptoms that do not impact an individual’s ability to live their day-to-day life to extremely severe symptoms that prevent an individual from engaging in normal activities and potentially damaging their brain in the process. Even though we cannot attest to what CBD can do for epilepsy, some customers swear by it.
These statements have not evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease. Always check with your physician or medical provider before starting a new dietary supplement program.