CBD is well known for its ability to address many different symptoms. Most people are familiar with its use either as a pain reliever or mood enhancer. Another important, yet lesser-known use for CBD is for the treatment and mitigation of epilepsy.
While not everyone knows about epilepsy or its treatment with CBD, it is a fairly common condition. According to the CDC, about 1.2% of the U.S. population has been diagnosed with epilepsy. This means 3.4 million people as of 2015, over 400,000 of which were children under the age of 18. While 1.2% may not seem like a big number, these statistics do mean that you are likely to know someone who struggles with epilepsy.
What is Epilepsy?
Before learning about how CBD can be used for epilepsy, it is important to first learn about the condition.
Epilepsy is a central nervous system disorder that causes seizures. A seizure essentially involves a sudden electrical shock to the brain, which can occur in a localized part of the brain or throughout its entirety. There are many different types of seizures, which can be categorized into partial or generalized seizures.
Partial seizures may or may not involve a loss of consciousness and unresponsiveness. On the contrary, generalized seizures affect the whole body and typically leads to unconsciousness and lack of muscle control.
People with epilepsy may experience seizures on a frequent basis, while others experience them less frequently. Often, it depends on situational circumstances such as setting, level of nutrition, sleep, the presence of brain injuries, and more.
Ultimately, epilepsy can be a manageable disorder and many people with a diagnosis are able to be functional. Careful and diligent treatment plans, however, are necessary to reduce the epileptic risk of seizures.
How CBD Can Help
CBD is a possible treatment for certain forms of epilepsy, and has proven to be useful in treating seizures. However, not all CBD is properly suited for these purposes, and it is important to note that some cannabis products can increase symptoms of epilepsy and risk of seizures. Therefore, careful research, planning, and consulting with physicians is required before anyone utilizes CBD for the treatment of epilepsy.
Currently, CBD is only recommended for two very specific, severe forms of epilepsy. The drug Epidiolex is an oral medication that can be used to treat Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. These two rare types of epilepsy can have severe symptoms including intense physical seizures with muscle spasms and even threat of death.
CBD addresses these syndromes by reducing the amount of seizures in patients. In one study, Epidiolex showed to reduce the risk of seizures by 70%.
Currently, it is not fully understood how CBD works to reduce seizures. However, it is likely that the answer lies within CBD’s interactions with the endocannabinoid system. It is possible that CBD reduces specific neuron activity in the brain, which likely reduces the risk of electrical pulses causing seizures in the brain.
FDA Approval and What This Means
In 2018, Epidiolex became the first cannabis derived drug with FDA approval. Epidiolex does not have THC, and its active ingredient is CBD, making it non-psychoactive.
Approval from the FDA is a huge leap forward for the cannabis industry. This acknowledges the medical legitimacy of CBD, and provides thousands of people with crucial access to medical treatments.
The future of CBD is bright, and this is one exciting step in the right direction.