CBD is gaining prominence for its therapeutic potential; this cannabis-derived compound has shown potential in treating seizures and neurological disorders, among others. A cross-sectional study recently published (February 2021) in the Journal of Cannabinoid Medicine showed that most users consume CBD to relieve stress, anxiety, and deal with sleep issues.
In 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a CBD-based drug for the treatment of intractable childhood seizures. This indicates that there is enough evidence to support the use of CBD oil for seizures. This article details everything you need to know about using CBD to stop seizures.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol, abbreviated as CBD, is one of many phytocannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. There are approximately 114+ phytocannabinoids identified in cannabis; CBD is one of the two most studied. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the other important phytocannabinoid. Unlike CBD, THC is psychoactive and will trigger that typical high feeling associated with cannabis.
Around the world, different countries are preparing to legalize cannabis for medical or recreational purposes. The acceptance of cannabis by the general public has created many opportunities for cannabis research, which have multiplied by thousands over the past two years. Key areas of interest for researchers studying the therapeutic potential of CBD include the following medical conditions:
- Chronic pain and inflammation
- Muscle spasticity
- Sleep disorder
- substance abuse
- Mood disorders
- Parkinson’s disease
Some types of seizures are difficult to manage with traditional anti-epileptic drugs, including seizures in children (Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome). The medical community and affected patients and their families have played an important role in promoting the use of CBD as an alternative treatment for seizures.
What are seizures?
Seizures are sudden jerky movements of muscle that are involuntary (the person has no control over) and can vary in severity and duration. Seizures can affect people of all ages, from children to the elderly. They are attributed to sudden changes in the electrical activity of the brain. Although the cause of seizures is idiopathic, several triggers have been identified and include the following:
- Brain infections
- Sleep deprivation
- Traumatic brain injury
- Electrolyte Imbalances
- Drug overdose
Traditional seizure treatment involves the use of antiepileptic drugs such as sodium valproate, carbamazepine, and lamotrigine, among others. These drugs are often associated with side effects such as drowsiness, restlessness, tremors, hair loss and swelling of the gums. Surgery may also be done to remove the affected part of the brain, if antiepileptic drugs do not work.
About 20-40% of patients with epilepsy do not respond to standard epilepsy medications. This type of epilepsy is called refractory epilepsy and affects about 400,000 people in the United States. Cannabinoid research now reveals that CBD may be helpful for these patients.
Does CBD Oil Stop Seizures?
Various theories have been put forward to try to explain how CBD affects seizures. Some evidence suggests that it works through the GPR55 and TRPV1 receptors located in the brain to reduce neuronal excitability. Other sources suggest that CBD has neuroprotective effects and therefore protects brain cells from damage.
In 2018, the FDA approved a prescription CBD drug called Epidiolex for the treatment of severe childhood seizures, specifically Lennox Gastaut and Dravet syndrome.
A review conducted in 2019 analyzed the existing literature and clinical trials investigating the safety and effectiveness of cannabidiol in the management of treatment-resistant seizures. The researchers found that CBD showed great promise in this area and more research was needed.
CBDa, the acid form of CBD, has also shown significant therapeutic potential. A study has shown that CBDA has anticonvulsant properties similar to those of CBD. When combined with CBD in a product, CBDa enhances entourage effects and anticonvulsant activity.
CBD for Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome
Lennox-Gastaut syndrome is a severe form of childhood epilepsy which accounts for 2-5% of all childhood epilepsies. A recent study demonstrated the safety and effectiveness of CBD in treating this type of epilepsy. CBD reduced drop seizures by 48% to 71% and total seizures by 48% to 68%.
CBD for Dravet Syndrome
Dravets syndrome is a very rare form of epilepsy associated with a genetic mutation (SCN1A mutation). A 2017 study found cannabidiol to be an appropriate alternative for seizure management in Dravet syndrome. Compared to placebo, CBD resulted in a greater reduction in seizure episodes as well as fewer adverse events.
How to Use CBD for Seizures
CBD is available in different formulations. When choosing the best method of consuming CBD, you’ll need to consider what’s available to you and your unique needs. If you use CBD regularly, a method that’s easy to incorporate into your routine might be best. This includes tinctures, pills, gummies, capsules, and other ingestible CBD methods.
If you need fast-acting CBD for immediate relief, you’ll need to opt for more sophisticated methods such as CBD vapes or CBD-infused e-cigs (preferably not flavored ones). This allows CBD to bypass the digestive process and directly reach the bloodstream. Topical CBD applications such as transdermal patches can also be used to manage seizures.
CBD tinctures are another popular way to consume CBD. However, tinctures may not be suitable for someone who is already having a seizure. The same goes for other ingestible forms of CBD.
What is the right dosage of CBD for seizures?
When it comes to CBD dosing, there is never a one-size-fits-all solution. This is again affected by the relative consistency of CBD products on the market. Regulations would help streamline this.
However, some studies have shown that it is possible to have a rough estimate of the dosage that might work for most people. A 2019 study showed that single doses of 5–6 mg/kg/day were effective in relieving seizures in children. The recommended dosage for Epidiolex is similar; 5 mg/kg/day or 2.5 mg/kg twice daily.
Does CBD for seizures cause side effects?
Generally, CBD is well tolerated by most people. In some cases, CBD can cause mild side effects such as:
- Feel like sleeping
- Weak appetite
- Low blood pressure
Does CBD interact with anti-epileptic drugs?
Yes, CBD can interact with certain anticonvulsants such as sodium valproate and clobazam. Therefore, it is advisable to consult your pharmacist if you are taking other medications.
There is compelling evidence that CBD is indeed effective as an alternative treatment for intractable seizures. CBD has a good safety profile and will be tolerated by most people, including children. That said, some CBD products on the market do not meet the quality threshold. When purchasing CBD products, it is important to verify the potency of the cannabinoids and rule out any pesticides or contaminants by reviewing third-party test results. the best cbda oil may cost you more upfront, but it will be worth it in the long run.
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