CBD for Epilepsy: How Cannabidiol can Help with Seizures
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Epilepsy is a challenging brain disorder marked by recurring seizures. It affects approximately 1% of the Thai population, with around 700,000 people grappling with its symptoms.
Among the many treatments available to manage epilepsy, CBD is slowly emerging as an optimistic candidate.
Cannabidiol is a natural compound derived from the cannabis plant, which has shown promise in reducing seizures, particularly for patients who have not responded to conventional treatments. In this article, we explore the potential benefits of CBD for epilepsy and delve into the research supporting its use.
CBD is effective for epilepsy
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a natural compound found in marijuana. It’s one of many cannabinoids in the plant, but it is special because of its potential health benefits.
CBD is often confused with another well-known cannabinoid: THC or tetrahydrocannabinol.
However, there’s a big difference between the two. THC is the part of cannabis that gets you ‘high,’ but CBD doesn’t have these psychoactive effects. That means it won’t change your mental state or lead to any kind of “high.”
CBD has a lot of potential in medical cannabis. In fact, when medical marijuana was legalised in Thailand in 2019, CBD-enriched products were recommended for intractable epilepsy. Plenty of research – local and international – supports the anti-seizure properties of CBD.
The scientific evidence
CBD interacts with the body via the endocannabinoid system. You can think of it as a control room for many things in our body, like our mood, sleep, hunger, and even how our nerves work.
Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t hold onto the main parts of the ECS (called CB1 and CB2 receptors). Instead, it seems to affect other parts and helps control the level of certain chemicals in our nerves. Voltage-gated sodium channel (Nav) is one such part.
When these channels have mutations or changes, they can cause some types of epilepsy. CBD can block these channels, which helps calm down our nerves and reduce seizures.
- In 2017, a big study by The New England Journal of Medicine found that CBD greatly reduced how often seizures happened in patients with Dravet syndrome, a serious form of epilepsy. Similarly, some studies claim that CBD can reduce the frequency and severity of these seizures.
- The US Food & Drug Administration has approved Epidiolex – a CBD-based oral solution specifically formulated to address two rare and severe forms of epilepsy: Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.
Clinical trials have shown that Epidiolex can effectively reduce the frequency of seizures in patients, providing new hope and improved quality of life for those affected.
- A 2021 study published in Epilepsy & Behavior Journal noted that CBD could potentially reduce the negative effects of anti-seizure medications and improve various aspects of health and overall well-being for patients.
- The Epilepsy Foundation of the US states that CBD-rich strains & products can reduce seizure activity in some people living with uncontrolled seizures. It also mentions that cannabidiol can be the best alternative for some who live with drug-resistant epilepsy – while calling for more research and studies.
In a letter addressed to the US FDA, the foundation makes a strong case for how CBD can improve the quality of life for epileptic patients.
A growing trend in Thailand
Thai researchers have strongly echoed the positive findings regarding the effectiveness of CBD in managing epilepsy.
- The Thai Epilepsy Society has also observed that medically enriched, purified cannabidiol can reduce the severity of seizures.
The Neurological Association of Thailand has also made similar observations in its presentation of medical cannabis & epilepsy.
- The Government Pharmaceutical Organisation (GPO), under the guidance of the Ministry of Public Health, observed that CBD-enriched medical cannabis products helped children suffering from pediatric drug-resistant epilepsy.
CBD & epilepsy: Which product to use?
Choose a high-quality CBD oil or oral solution when it comes to selecting a CBD product for epilepsy. Dosing is easier with tinctures, and they are also fast acting – compared to other options like gummies & edibles. Flowers are not recommended as such due to their nature of consumption and inaccurate dosing. You can learn more about CBD oil to make an informed decision.
You can also find a list of high-quality, reputed cannabidiol oils in Thailand here or opt for GPO-approved cannabis oil – but speak to a doctor beforehand for an optimal recommendation.
How to choose quality CBD oil for seizures
Choosing high-quality CBD oil for seizures involves several key factors.
- Dosage recommendations: Look for products that provide clear dosage guidelines. The amount of CBD you should take can vary based on factors like your weight and the severity of your symptoms.
Brands that provide clear instructions on how much to take can help you use their product safely and effectively.
- Efficacy and quality: Look for oils that contain the full spectrum of cannabinoids and are third-party lab tested. These tests can confirm that the oil contains the amount of CBD that the label claims it does and that it’s free from harmful substances like pesticides or heavy metals.
- Reputation of the brand: Do some research on the brand. Check out customer reviews and ratings. Brands with a good reputation are more likely to produce high-quality, reliable products.
- Source of hemp: Consider where the hemp used in the CBD oil is grown. These plants absorb substances from the earth, so choose CBD oil made from hemp grown in safe and regulated conditions. Organic hemp-derived CBD can be a good medical option.
- Extraction method: Pay attention to how CBD is extracted from the hemp plant.
The CO2 extraction method is the safest and most effective way to extract CBD. This method keeps the purity of the CBD while removing any unwanted compounds.
- THC content: Make sure the oil contains 0.3% THC or less. Higher levels of THC can cause psychoactive effects.
How to use CBD oil for epilepsy
As you know by now from this article on CBD oil and seizures, cannabidiol interacts with your body’s natural systems (ECS), helping to calm overactive brain signals that can lead to epilepsy attacks.
Here is a step-by-step guide for using CBD for seizures:
- Talk to a doctor: Before starting any new treatment, talk to your doctor. An expert can give you advice based on your individual health needs and give you proper dosage guidelines.
- Start with a low dose: Begin with a small dose of CBD oil and slowly increase it over time, if necessary. This helps your body adjust and lets you see how the oil affects you. The dosage will also differ depending on metabolism and genetics.
For example, in the case of Epidiolex, the recommended starting dosage is typically 2.5 mg/kg per day, which is then adjusted based on individual response and tolerability. Some studies have observed positive effects with dosages ranging from 10-20 mg/kg per day.
- Take it consistently: Make sure to use CBD oil consistently. Take it at the same time every day to keep a steady amount of CBD in your system.
- See the response: Track the seizures and any changes in their frequency or severity. This can help you and your doctor see how well CBD oil works for you.
Using CBD for seizures may not be as simple or straightforward. As we say at Weed Review, taking marijuana is a personal wellness journey, and everyone responds to it differently. Some may need high doses, some may need low, and some may need different products.
While CBD has shown potential benefits in managing epilepsy, it is important to be aware of potential side effects and drug interactions. Some common side effects of CBD use include
- Dry mouth
- Changes in appetite
- Stomach upset/diarrhoea
- Liver problems
These side effects are often well-tolerated and manageable, and not everyone may experience them.
CBD can also interact with certain anti-seizure medications, potentially affecting their effectiveness or leading to increased side effects. The list includes brivaracetam, clobazam, eslicarbazepine, stiripentol, rufinamide, topirimate, valproic acid, and zonisamide.
It is crucial to work closely with a doctor or epilepsy specialist to monitor for any potential interactions and adjust medication dosages as necessary. Regular communication and monitoring can help ensure the safe and effective use of CBD in epilepsy management.
The evidence that CBD can help with epilepsy is quite conclusive and promising. If you or a loved one is living with epilepsy, CBD oil is something worth considering.
More research is needed to fully uncover the ins and outs of how CBD oil interacts with our bodies, who can benefit the most, and how to best use it for managing seizures. In the end, it’s always wise to talk to a doctor before starting any new treatment.
With their guidance and the promising potential of CBD, there’s reason to hope for better seizure control in the future.