Researchers have been interested in cannabidiol (CBD) for epilepsy treatment for years. The FDA approved the first cannabis-based medicine for two rare forms of epilepsy in June 2018.
There are a lot of myths floating around about CBD oil and what it could be good for. There are also a lot of facts. If you experience epileptic seizures, you may be wondering about CBD oil as a treatment.
Does it work? Does the science exist to back up these claims?
Let’s take a look at some of these truths about CBD. Here is what we know about CBD oil for seizures.
What’s a Seizure?
In basic terms, a seizure is a flood of electrical activity in the brain. Complex neural processes regulate excitement and inhibition of electrical messages between brain cells.
During a seizure, the balance between exciting and stopping activity is out of balance. This often occurs when there is too little or too much activity in the brain, leading to a sudden surge.
Some seizures can be minor and hardly noticeable. Others can be dramatic and disabling.
What Causes Epileptic Seizures?
There is no one type of epilepsy. In fact, multiple different types of epilepsy have seizures as a primary symptom. Researchers and medical professionals are using new methods of classifying types of epilepsy.
There are four basic classifications:
- generalized epilepsy
- focal epilepsy
- generalized and focal epilepsy
- unknown if generalized or focal epilepsy
The cause of epilepsy varies by person and by age. These causes can range from genetics to brain malformations to infections.
How Does CBD Oil for Seizures Work?
Over the years, CBD has shown anti-convulsive properties in animal studies. This has led to suspicion that CBD could be used to treat seizures in patients with epilepsy.
Note the FDA has only approved CBD for treating seizures in those with specific types of epilepsy. Those are patients with Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.
Both are rare and severe forms of epilepsy. They usually require two or more anticonvulsants for treatment.
The CBD product known as Epidiolex is usually prescribed in addition to another anticonvulsant. Clinical trials indicate the combination of CBD with other anticonvulsants reduces the severity and frequency of seizures.
Researchers are still unclear about the specific processes involved in this treatment. It’s unclear whether or not the seizure control is the result of direct actions of CBD on nerve cells.
The effects could be the result of drug interactions and mediation between CBD and other anticonvulsants.
Researchers need to perform further studies and data analysis. This will help establish the exact actions responsible for improved seizure control.
Is It Safe and Effective?
One of the biggest hesitations patients have is over safety. Many people are concerned about psychoactive and other undesirable effects.
CBD is a cannabinoid extracted from the cannabis plant. The other common cannabinoid of interest is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the compound associated with psychoactive effects.
When isolated from THC, CBD produces few undesired effects such as a psychoactive high. Compared to THC, CBD has a better anticonvulsive profile. Abuse liability is much lower.
In general, the risk of abuse with CBD is nonexistent. You don’t need to worry about yourself or a child abusing the medication.
You may, however, encounter misunderstandings from others. CBD in medicine is a new concept, making it difficult to understand and explain. This is because CBD comes from the cannabis plant, which has historically acquired a negative reputation. However, when the CBD Oil comes from hemp, as Highland Pharms’ products do, the THC level is so low that there is no psychoactive “high” experienced. And, these products are fully legal in all 50 states without any type of prescription or medical card required.
Side effects are rare and most often mild. Patients may experience drowsiness, fatigue, decreased appetite, weakness, diarrhea, and rashes. More severe side effects may include jaundice, abdominal pain, vomiting, and dark urine.
For seizures, CBD is often prescribed alongside other anticonvulsants. Specific drug interactions can cause their own side effects. These interactions could elevate certain liver enzymes, a sign of liver injury.
Dosing and Methods of Use
Epidolex comes in liquid form. Dosing is based on weight.
In general, you’ll probably take around 10 mg/kg/day. That means for every kilogram of weight, you’ll take 10 mg of CBD each day. Doses are usually divided into twice a day.
Your doctor will work with you to develop a treatment plan. Your specific condition may require more or less of the specific medication.
Medication may also have negative interactions with other drugs. If you’re taking any other medications for other conditions, you should inform your doctor.
You should never skip or combine doses. It’s important to take your anticonvulsant medications according to a regular schedule.
It may be difficult to get your children to take any medications.
You should work with your child and their doctor to develop strategies. Some healthcare professionals recommend allowing your child a certain amount of control. This will help them build a sense of responsibility.
A Legal Gray Area
Although the FDA has approved the drug Epidolex, marijuana-derived medications still lie in a legal gray area. Many states have approved cannabis for both medical and recreational use. But, hemp-derived CBD is fully legal in all states.
Epidolex is the first formally FDA approved cannabis-derived medication. This is a big step for the FDA. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t inform yourself.
Some of the laws can be a bit tricky. Since the medication is FDA approved, you shouldn’t run into too many problems. But you should talk with your physician about this more.
You should research more about legality across the United States. You’ll be able to decide for yourself whether or not you want to use the medication.
Is CBD Right for Your Seizures?
Your doctor should provide you with everything you need to know about Epidolex and other CBD oil products. The FDA approved Epidolex in June 2018 for certain types of epilepsy. These only include Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Your doctor may prescribe it alongside other anticonvulsants. This medication can dramatically decrease the frequency and severity of epileptic seizures.
This guide is meant for informational purposes only. You should always consult your physician or specialist before considering any medications. If you and your doctor agree, you may begin using CBD oil for seizures.
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