What you should know about CBD Oil and Epilepsy
Epilepsy is a neurological condition for which there is no known cure. However, for many parents of children with treatment-resistant epilepsy, cannabinoids may seem like an attractive solution. This isn’t a new development, though, as the history of using cannabis to help with epilepsy goes back to the Victorian era.
However, very little medical research has been done on the effects of CBD Oil and Epilepsy, and what effect cannabinoids have on people with epilepsy. Now, thanks to the interest created by a recent clinical trial, CBD researchers have been taking an increased interest in understanding how cannabinoids and epilepsy relate to each other.
CBD oil could have a calming effect on seizures through the ECS
Seizures are a daily concern for people with epilepsy. The intensity, duration, and frequency of these attacks can vary from person to person. However, it’s not unusual for some people with epilepsy to have several seizures a day, which increases their likelihood of harming themselves and reduces their quality of life.
These attacks are caused by excessive neuron activity, which pushes the brain to spiral out of control and creates violent involuntary movements. For most people with epilepsy — some 65 million worldwide — the available commercial medication is enough to keep their symptoms under control
However, some rare types of epilepsy don’t respond to medication, although there is anecdotal evidence that indicates that CBD oil, by supplementing the ECS, could lessen up some of the symptoms.
Researchers are studying the effects of CBD oil on two rare varieties of epilepsy
Despite the increased interest from parents on medicinal marihuana and hemp, CBD researchers remain focused on studying the effects of CBD oil on two rare forms of epilepsy, both of which are called “orphan diseases” by the FDA due to their lack of treatment.
The first one of this, the Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, develops during childhood and causes frequent “drop” seizures where the body loses control of the muscles and the person falls to the floor. People with this syndrome also tend to have learning difficulties and developmental delay.
The other rare version of epilepsy, called the Dravet syndrome, is triggered by hot temperatures and fevers. Both conditions respond very poorly to treatment. Although the research carried out at the New York University Langone Comprehensive Epilepsy Center suggests that CBD’s supplementation of the ECS could help reduce the frequency of the attacks, there’s still not enough evidence to believe it’s a viable and safe treatment.
The FDA just approved the first CBD-based drug for epilepsy
In June of last year, the FDA approved Epidiolex for public consumption. The drug, which was developed in Britain, is the first CBD-based medication to be approved in the United States for the treatment of epilepsy. However, only people suffering from Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome are allowed to use it.
According to its creators, GW Pharmaceuticals in Cambridge, Epidiolex could help reduce the frequency of motor seizures in both children and adults. But despite having a very low THC content, which eliminates the possibility of getting high, it also comes with some side effects, such as sleepiness.
Epilepsy is a condition which has a severe impact on those people suffering it. Although not deadly on its own, the fact that seizures can occur anytime, anywhere, including when a person is driving a car or swimming, can reduce a person’s quality of life and increase his chances of getting hurt or even dying.
Thankfully, there is a lot of research being carried out on CBD Oil and Epilepsy, and now, thanks to the FDA’s approval of Epidiolex, we might actually be on our way to understanding the effects that CBD oil has on the brain.
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- CBS News (2018, June 26) U.S. approves first marijuana-based drug for seizures
- The Pharmaceutical Journal (2017, January 10) Cannabis for epilepsy: is there enough evidence of efficacy?
- NHS website (2018, May 18) Cannabis oil may help treat rare type of epilepsy
- FDA website (2018, June 25) FDA approves first drug comprised of an active ingredient derived from marijuana to treat rare, severe forms of epilepsy
- John Hopkins Medicine Health Library. Epilepsy and Seizures