How Can Marijuana Help Treat Epilepsy?

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Epilepsy is a condition that is more common than many believe. It’s a catch-all for a group of neurological disorders where activity across the brain becomes out of sync. Seizures, strange sensations, and even loss of awareness are all effects of abnormal brain activity among those with epilepsy.

Epilepsy can strike just about anyone – there’s no particular predisposition towards males or females, or a particular race or ethnic background. The actual effects and symptoms of epilepsy can be greatly different among people. Some with epilepsy will just blank out for a few seconds. Others might fall and start to twitch or convulse wildly. 

Epilepsy Overview

Some people believe suffering a seizure means they’re epileptic. This isn’t the case. A diagnosis of epilepsy usually only comes after a person has experienced two seizures that were unprovoked, as a wide range of other medical factors or trauma to the head can also lead to a seizure. Most people with epilepsy will experience a similar type of seizure, so the signs of an upcoming seizure, like a lack of consciousness, anxiety, fear, or temporary confusion, will pop up in the same manner and pattern before a seizure. 

The treatment prognosis for epilepsy also varies based on the person. Some respond well to anti-seizure medication and are able to live relatively normal lives with their epilepsy under control. Others need sustained treatment across their lives in order to keep the risk of seizure low. Sometimes, children who experience seizures while they are young simply outgrow their epilepsy and are able to enjoy a typical life. 

Right now, modern medicine is a bit divided about how epilepsy actually develops. For a large number of people, there’s not any clear reason as to the cause. For some others, medicine believes epilepsy arises due to specific genetic factors, diseases like meningitis, head trauma, and other brain conditions – like a stroke.

Medical Marijuana and Epilepsy

Marijuana’s seen as a ‘miracle plant’ in some circles due to its effectiveness in treating and managing pain and other effects of a wide variety of ailments and illnesses. There’s been a large amount of research trying to figure out if there’s a connection between marijuana and epilepsy treatment, and if cannabis could help manage the symptoms of those who do experience reoccurring seizures due to epilepsy. Most medical researchers do not fully understand yet how marijuana works in the body of those who do suffer from epilepsy, as studies carried out on mice depict mixed results for cannabis’ effectiveness in treating epilepsy.

The Results of Scientific Research into Marijuana and Epilepsy

There’s been a growing number of scientific research that takes a deep dive into marijuana treatment for epilepsy. However, despite research, clear links between cannabis and seizure reduction have not been clearly established.

A 2018 literature review noted how many recent studies have not led to any profound conclusions, noting many of them had an extremely small sample size and seemed to be “underpowered.” Some speculate cannabis might not be an effective treatment since it has been shown to impact a person’s memory. Concerns in memory issues could cause people with epilepsy to miss doses of medication or cannabis – leading to a return of seizures.

How CBD Works with Those Suffering from Epilepsy

In contrast, experimentation with CBD in those suffering from epilepsy has shown more fruitful results. Research from New York University in 2018 found how CBD led to significant seizure reductions in patients who had a severe form of epilepsy, known as Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a plant-based formulation of CBD known as Epidiolex in 2018 to help treat seizures in people with both Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndrome. Epidiolex is nearly 100% oil-based and is crafted by extracting CBD from cannabis plants. Before being approved by the FDA, Epidiolex was heavily researched by medical professionals who carried out a number of clinical trials with the medication. 

In the vast majority of cases, treatment with Epidiolex was extremely effective in reducing the rate and intensity of seizures with minimal side effects, except when a patient was consuming large amounts of the medication. Side effects, according to the trials, were typically sleepiness, a lack of appetite, changes in functionality to the liver, and general fatigue. Other research featuring more than 100 participants per study found many of the same conclusions – that CBD usage does seem to lead to large reductions in the frequency of seizures.

Possible Side Effects of CBD & Marijuana Usage for Epilepsy

Aside from potential issues pertaining to memory, some worry about the consumption methods of marijuana and how it could impact other areas in the body. For example, there are concerns smoking large amounts of cannabis could lead to issues with the lungs. 

So far, research into CBD and epilepsy has shown minimal side effects. However, studies into CBD and epilepsy have led to some instances of interactions with other drugs that could potentially lead to complications. For example, research into people taking Onfi (clobazam) demonstrated how a key component of the pharmaceutical interacted with CBD in a way that contributed to fatigue in the person. 

Additionally, those who took CBD and also were on a regimen of a popular anti-seizure medicine (valproic acid) experienced an increase in liver enzymes, which potentially opens up doors to liver issues. However, it’s thought an element of valproic acid might have interacted with the CBD as the body broke it down.

How to Get a Marijuana Card for Epilepsy

medical marijuana and epilepsy

Medical marijuana (and CBD) only gets more popular as a potential treatment option for epilepsy, especially since it presents a viable and safe alternative to traditional pharmaceutical drugs. Here at MDBerry, we make it easy and simple for you to obtain a medical marijuana card through a simple three-step process. 

First, simply fill out an application form on our website, then speak with one of our licensed medical professionals who will make a decision about your application. Once you’re approved, we will immediately give you access to a temporary card and then quickly send you a permanent certification in a few business days.

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