What are seizures?
Seizures are symptoms of a brain problem. They happen due to sudden, abnormal electrical activity in the brain. When people think of seizures, they often think of convulsions in which a person’s body shakes rapidly and uncontrollably, but not all seizures cause convulsions. There are many types of seizures and some have mild symptoms. Seizures fall into two main groups. Partial seizures which happen in just one part of the brain and generalized seizures which are a result of abnormal activity on both sides of the brain. Most seizures last from 30 seconds to 2 minutes and do not cause lasting harm. Seizures can have many causes, including medicines, high fevers, head injuries and certain diseases. People who have recurring seizures due to a brain disorder have what is called epilepsy.
Can CBD treat Seizures?
CBD is a good option for children and adults with certain kinds of epilepsy, Dravet syndrome or Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome.
- LGS is a developmental disorder that begins in early childhood and is characterized by multiple seizure types, as well as physical and cognitive deficits. The seizures of LGS are difficult to control and are managed with a different medication regimen than that which is used for most epilepsy types.
- Dravet syndrome is a developmental disorder that begins in early childhood and is associated with multiple seizure types as well as seizures triggered by fevers. People with Dravet syndrome often have behavioural challenges and learning difficulties
Early evidence from laboratory studies, anecdotal reports, and small clinical studies suggest that cannabidiol (CBD) could potentially help control seizures. Research on CBD has been hard to do and taken time due to federal regulations and limited access to cannabidiol. In recent years, a number of studies have shown the benefit of specific plant-based CBD product in treating these specific types of epilepsy who have not responded to traditional therapies. It is not completely clear why CBD can reduce some types of seizures. It is known to have a range of biochemical effects on nerve cells in the brain, some of which may have an impact on seizures. Medical research on CBD is still in its early stages.
For many who have used CBD oil, the newly available treatment has provided relief when all else failed. About two thirds of epilepsy patients will respond to the first or second medicine they’re given for epilepsy. But once an epilepsy patient has taken two different medicines without relief, the odds that a third medication will work are less than 1 percent, doctors say. That leaves other options, such as special diets, surgeries, device implementation—or CBD oil
It has been found that lower doses are better for those using CBD to treat epilepsy. In a clinical trial, convulsive seizures decreased by 46% in children taking 20 mg/kg/day and 49% for children taking 10 mg/kg/day of CBD, compared with 27% for placebo. Elevated liver enzymes and certain other adverse effects were higher in patients taking CBD 20 mg/kg/day, and discontinuations due to adverse effects occurred only in that group.
Things to consider before trying CBD for epilepsy:
- Be sure to consult with the physician who has been in charge of your treatment before beginning CBD
- Some people experienced an increase in their liver enzymes to a level three times or more than normal after taking CBD, these individuals were also on Valproic Acid, a commonly used anti-seizure medication. The levels of VPA were not increased when taken with CBD. It is thought that a part or by product of VPA may interact with CBD when it is broken down. This may put some people at increased risk for liver issues.
- Another epilepsy drug called Clobazam is broken down, a major component of the drug appears to interact with CBD in some people. This may be the cause of tiredness that is seen in some people who are on both CBD and Onfi.
- CBD should only be considered after a thorough evaluation at a specialized epilepsy centre to look at whether all possible treatments (including FDA-approved new and add-on medicines, dietary therapy, devices, and surgery) have been reasonably tried, and to determine weather your type of epilepsy responds well to CBD.