Epileptic Seizures and Cannabis

Countless studies have looked at the benefits of taking CBD for seizures, and the results have been promising. Many people dealing with epilepsy have reported that CBD has helped reduce the number of seizures they experience. This is fantastic news as more people turn to holistic treatment options to improve their health. 

Did you know that the FDA has approved a cannabis medication to treat epilepsy in the United States? As we see more research, we learn more about how effective cannabis can be at managing epileptic seizures. 

Many cannabinoids in the cannabis plant may play a role in managing seizures. However, the two most popular cannabinoids, CBD and THC, are the key players. Research points toward CBD being the most effective. To learn more about taking CBD for epileptic seizures, keep reading. 

What are epileptic seizures?

The Epilepsy Foundation defines epilepsy as “a brain disorder that causes recurring, unprovoked seizures.” Epilepsy is another word for “seizure disorder.” You may be diagnosed with epilepsy if you have two unprovoked seizures. Or if you have had one unprovoked seizure and you are at high risk for more. 

An unprovoked seizure means that the seizure doesn’t have an immediate cause. A provoked seizure has a known cause, such as a head injury, low blood sugar, or infection. Anyone can have a seizure since every brain has the potential to seize. But a person with epilepsy is more likely to have seizures thanks to their brain chemistry. 

There are many different types of epilepsy syndromes and types of seizures. Some are severe, and others are mild. 

Seizures are sudden surges of excessive and abnormal electrical activity in the brain that can affect how you act or appear. These bursts in electrical activity can cause involuntary body movement or functions, behavior, awareness, and sensations. 

Treatments are available to help manage epilepsy. In some cases, surgery helps. Antiseizure medication, dietary therapy and certain medical devices are helpful in most cases. 

Recently, research is showing that cannabis may be an effective treatment for some forms of epilepsy. 

CBD’s Potential Therapeutic Benefits

CBD (short for cannabidiol) has become very popular recently thanks to its many benefits. 

Studies have shown that it may help with the following:

  • Reducing anxiety and stress

One of the most popular reasons people use CBD is to reduce anxiety potentially. Research has shown that CBD may exhibit a sedative effect. Plus, it may decrease cortisone levels in our body and calm our nervous system. Another studyfound that CBD may be a potential treatment for several anxiety-related disorders.

  • Relieving pain

Many people use CBD as an all-natural form of pain management. Research shows that CBD has anti-inflammatory effects. So, it may provide relief from arthritis and other chronic pain. 

  • Improving sleep

Stress, anxiety, and pain are the biggest factors contributing to poor sleep. Since CBD may reduce anxiety and manage pain, it may also help you get more restful sleep. CBD has a soothing effect on the body and mind, so it may be an effective sleep aid.

These effects can benefit anyone – whether you’re diagnosed with epilepsy or not. Now, lets dive into how CBD may help manage seizures. 

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How CBD Helps Manage Epilepsy

CBD has many beneficial effects. Some of these effects can potentially help manage seizures. Research shows that CBD may help manage epilepsy because:

  • It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
  • It may have neuroprotective properties.
  • It may protect brain cells from “over-excitement.”

At this point, many studies have shown promising results. They’ve shown that CBD has helped decrease seizures in many epileptic patients. 

However, scientists do not fully understand how CBD does this. They speculate that it may have to do with how CBD protects the brain and its anti-inflammatory properties. CBD also has antioxidant properties that may help the brain as well. These properties likely help manage epileptic seizures, but we need more research before we know for sure.

Ultimately, we need more clinical studies before we fully understand how taking CBD for epilepsy is beneficial. 

The FDA-Approved Cannabis Seizure Medication

Epidiolex is an FDA-approved medication for a few forms of epilepsy. It uses CBD as its active ingredient. The medication is approved for the following three forms of epilepsy:

  • Dravet Syndrome
  • Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome (LGS)
  • Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC)

This medication is the only FDA-approved prescription drug with CBD. This means extensive clinical trials showed how effective and safe CBD was to be used in this medication. 

Because CBD doesn’t have psychoactive effects, you will not experience a “high” when taking Epidiolex. It’s all-natural and has few side effects. It’s considered very safe for both children and adults. 

The Epidiolex website shows results from studies testing Epidiolex. Three seizure-causing conditions were studied: LGS, Dravet Syndrome, and TSC. Each study of each disease showed a significant decrease in seizures. A small percentage of people stopped having seizures entirely. 

Cannabis and CBD May Help You Tolerate Anti-Seizure Meds Better

Another potential benefit is that CBD may help your antiseizure medications work better. Many choose to take CBD with their antiseizure medications, as long as they have doctor approval. 

In the journal Epilepsy and Behavior, Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers found that CBD may reduce the adverse effects of antiseizure medications. Their study found improvements in depression, sleep, and anxiety in epileptic patients. The patients who used CBD reported fewer negative side effects from their epilepsy medications. Plus, they reported better mental health satisfaction as well.

The scientists state that more research is needed before fully understanding how to apply the findings to people with epilepsy. In the meantime, patients should consult with their doctors before trying CBD products.  

It’s also important to note that CBD may interfere with certain medications. So again, talking with your doctor before starting any CBD treatment is best.