Well, it seems like cannabis, and more specifically its popular CBD compound, has been making a comeback. While the use of cannabis declined in the 20th century because cultivation of the plant was made illegal in many countries, it has re-emerged in t he 21st century as a miracle drug. In recent years, a number of studies have shown the benefit of CBD products in treating people with epilepsy who have not responded to traditional therapies and medicines.
What is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder in which an abnormal electrical activity in the brain spreads and causes seizures or periods of unusual behavior and loss of awareness. Many anti-seizure drugs work by slowing down the erratic nerve activity in the brain. Symptoms of a seizure can include temporary confusion, uncontrolled jerking of arms and legs, loss of consciousness, and sudden rapid eye movements. It’s important to note that while seizures are a symptom of epilepsy, not all people who have seizures have epilepsy.
Types of Seizures Caused by Epilepsy
Seizures are generally divided into two main categories depending on where they start in the brain:
Generalized seizures: These seizures affect both sides of the brain at the same time. This term includes seizure types like tonic-clonic, absence, or atonic to name a few.
Focal seizures: These seizures are caused by electrical impulses originating in a specific or focused part of the brain. They may or may not cause loss of consciousness but will typically cause some dysfunction.
CBD and its Effect on Seizures
CBD is quickly becoming more popular than THC because it lacks the intoxicating effects while still providing the desired relief. CBD also acts on different receptors within our bodies than THC. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved the use of Epidiolex (a plant-based formula derived from CBD) to treat seizures in patients 2 years of age and older with Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS). Epidiolex is actually the first and only FDA-approved prescription cannabidiol.
So what exactly does this cannabinoid do for seizures? According to a study conducted by the Epilepsy Society, randomized trials of pure CBD in children and young adults with these syndromes has shown a significant reduction in monthly seizures. These trials also found a greater reduction in drop seizures in patients taking CBD. A 2019 review on Epidiolex found a sustained reduction in seizure frequency between 30 and 63 percent. Additionally, seizures were found to be about half as severe. While CBD may be paired with most anti-seizure drugs, it is important to check with your doctor before self-medicating with CBD products.