Epilepsy is unfortunately prevalent in the United States.
Indeed, around 1.2% of the population were living with it in 2015. That’s around 3.4 million people of all ages, genders and ethnic backgrounds who had been diagnosed with the condition.
Those are scary figures considering how debilitating epilepsy can be. It can have a significant negative effect on daily life.
Unfortunately, current approaches to treatment are far from foolproof. As is typically the case with medication, it’s impossible to guarantee its efficacy and side effects are common.
Consequently, the scientific and medical communities are always on the lookout for new treatments.
CBD is one alternative that’s gained significant levels of attention in recent years. There are promising signs that it can be used as an effective treatment approach.
Interested in learning more?
Keep reading to discover all about using CBD for epilepsy treatment.
What is Epilepsy?
You’ve probably heard of epilepsy before.
You might even be familiar with the symptoms. However, let’s start nonetheless by considering a definition.
In simple terms, epilepsy is a disorder of the central nervous system. It’s characterized by atypical activity of the brain. One common symptom of this is the prevalence of seizures.
These occur from irregular and erratic electrical signals in the brain. The activity can spread and lead to involuntary physical spasms and jerking movements. Loss of awareness and states of altered consciousness are also common.
One thing to make clear is that having a seizure isn’t the same as having epilepsy. Many people suffer a seizure for all manner reasons. However, multiples randomly-occurring seizures tend to indicate the presence of epilepsy.
The prognosis of the condition varies by person. For many, seizures can be effectively controlled by anti-seizure medication used throughout their life. For some, it’s a lifelong struggle. For others, epilepsy will disappear over time.
What is CBD?
CBD stands for cannabidiol.
It’s one of many cannabinoids found in cannabis plants. Cannabinoids are naturally occurring chemical compounds. One of the most well-known is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC for short).
THC is the psychoactive compound found in marijuana. It’s what gets you high!
CBD and THC are derived from the same plants….marijuana and/or hemp. But that’s where the similarities end. There’s nothing psychoactive about CBD. You won’t feel euphoric, or transported to an altered state of consciousness! The extract from marijuana usually has high levels of THC along with the CBD and this high level of THC is what causes people to feel ‘high’. But, extract from hemp plants usually has very, very low levels of THC along with the CBD and thus, people do not feel ‘high’ when using CBD from this extract.
People produce all sorts of products using it. Oils and edible treats are common when people want to ingest it. However, CBD can also be used as a topical treatment. Creams and lotions are used to reduce symptoms of pain and skin conditions.
It’s become an increasingly well-known and accepted form of treatment. People even give it to their pets! Many swear by CBD as a holistic, natural alternative to modern pharmaceutical approaches.
CBD for Epilepsy Treatment
As we’ve seen, CBD is reported to have all manner of positive health benefits.
Reduced stress, anxiety, pain relief, and depression are all oft-reported examples.
Unfortunately, to date, much of that evidence remains anecdotal. Further clinical trials are required to prove its efficacy in the majority of areas it’s purported to help.
By contrast, epilepsy is one area where significant scientific research into CBD’s efficacy has been conducted. In part to do with massive media attention in recent years, the scientific community rallied to test its utility.
It remains for CBD to be fully sanctioned as an anti-epilepsy medication. However, the preliminary signs are positive.
Indeed, CBD (specifically, Epidiolex is the only CBD ‘drug’ available) was approved by the FDA in 2018 as a treatment for seizures. For now, it’s only sanctioned to treat seizures in people over 2 years of age for 2 particularly hard to treat syndromes:
Lennox-Gasaut Syndrome (LSG) and Dravet Syndrome.
The use of CBD (in collaboration with other anti-seizure medications) has been shown to help with both. The intensity and frequency of seizures are reduced.
Hopefully, it’s only a matter of time before sufficient evidence is found to enable CBD treatment for every form of epilepsy.
How Does it Work?
The simple answer is this:
No-one really knows.
As of yet, there’s no agreed-upon reason for why CBD helps with seizures associated with these conditions. All that’s known for sure is that it helps control them where other medication fails.
The current FDA approved drug, Epidiolex, comes in liquid form. The dosage is based on a person’s weight. It’s been found to be most effective when 10milligrams per kilo of body weight is taken per day. Someone with either condition would take half the total dose, twice per day.
Higher doses are possible up to 20 mg/kg of body weight. However, higher quantities have been shown to result in greater side effects (such as fatigue, diarrhea, and loss of appetite).
A Note of Caution
It’s important to note that the effectiveness of CBD may wane over time in some people.
In one Israeli study, for example, the benefits of CBD for treatment-resistant seizures declined after a period of usage (around 20 months).
About one-third of their study participants developed a tolerance to CBD in that time. The researchers suggested increased dosages of CBD may be required to sustain its effect in these cases.
Time to Wrap Up
There you have it: a comprehensive guide to using CBD for epilepsy treatment.
Unfortunately, millions of people around the United States currently live with epilepsy. This often debilitating disorder of the central nervous system results in seizures. These can have significant harmful implications on those who suffer with them.
Current treatment approaches are far from 100% effective. They’re a lifeline for many people with the condition. However, not everyone benefits and side-effects are common.
The use of CBD as an alternative treatment has garnered significant momentum in recent years. On top of anecdotal evidence for its efficacy, scientific research has now proved its value too.
Hopefully, this post has highlighted everything you need to know about the use of CBD in this capacity!
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