How CBD Oil Can Support with Epileptic Seizures
A note from the publisher: Since the publication of this article, the FDA has approved a CBD-based prescription drug for two special types of epilepsy.
As far back as 1881, doctors have used cannabis to treat what was then referred to as chronic convulsion diseases. According to a medical report published in that year called “Epilepsy and other chronic convulsive diseases: their causes, symptoms, and cures,” a patient was completely cured of what they called ‘fits,' through a prescription of cannabis, taken three times a day. Apparently, “the fits ceased at once, ‘a wonderful change’ the patient declared.”
Despite this lengthy medical history, the cannabis plant fell out of favor with the medical profession due to an ever-changing political and social climate. Thankfully, that hostile climate is warming. Cannabis is not only better understood in 2017, but the products made from the plant, like cannabidiol (CBD) oil, are much safer and far gentler for everyday use. One of the most eagerly anticipated areas of research is exploring CBD therapy for the treatment of epileptic seizures.
With the development of CBD focused strains as well as hemp CBD, researchers and epileptic patients alike have begun experimentation. Patients are already self-prescribing CBD oil, while researchers are desperately trying to catch up to them through scientific evidence. The reported benefits for epileptic patients are so compelling that families are moving across the country to gain better access to CBD products. What is it about CBD that is triggering the mass migration?
Research into CBD Oil for Epileptic Seizures
Using CBD oil for epilepsy is still in the very early stages of clinical use. Despite the thousands of testimonials online supporting CBD therapy for epilepsy, the research is still trying to determine the underlying reasons why. There are currently two areas of speculation. First, CBD seems to stimulate the hippocampus region, and second, it may offer neuroprotection during and after seizures.
Since the 1980s there has been a quiet push for cannabinoid research for seizure control. Most of the early studies were not specific to CBD but relied on various ratios of THC and CBD. The small-scale studies from the eighties, typically found at least a 50 percent reduction in seizures. In one 1980 study, four out of the eight children had their seizures eliminated, while others experienced a substantial overall decline.
In a more recent animal study published in 2012, researchers concluded that CBD could significantly reduce the severity of both temporal lobe and partial seizures. These positive results were documented over a series of varying doses. No matter the dose size, scientists observed fewer tonic-clonic seizures in the lab rats treated with CBD. They also found a lower mortality rate. The study concluded CBD's potential to be as effective as standard seizure medications, but perhaps more preferential due to the lack of severe side effects.
Today, the FDA has approved CBD for preliminary study in a select number of clinical trials. These trials are authorized under the Investigational New Drug (IND) regulations and are approved for a patented CBD pharmaceutical called Epidiolex. Each IND study is administered by medical practitioners, for small groups of up to 25 patients. The focus is primarily for people with drug-resistant forms of epilepsy. What are the results thus far? The initial reports are quite favorable, with both patients and doctors giving positive feedback.
How Does CBD Oil Work for Seizures?
For anyone wanting to know the exact reasons why CBD seems to have such a positive effect on seizure activity, the research thus far falls short of answering that question. A google search will quickly return countless clinical trials, but limited explanations on the subject.
Seizures at basically outbursts of rapid-fire brain activity, or eruptions electrical signaling in a short period. With CBD therapy, some studies have measured a reduction in these outbursts. Perhaps CBD has a hand to play in reducing the overactive electrical signaling, and subsequently the associated seizure.
Cannabidiol is known to interact with and provide neurological protection to the hippocampus region of the brain. Some medical teams hypothesize that CBD may offer protection from synaptic excitation in temporal lobe seizures, as they are focused in the hippocampus. These seizures are the most prevalent among adults in the U.S.
Further studies have focused on the relationship between seizures and the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is the primary conduit through which CBD influences human health. During seizures, there is a marked increase in endocannabinoid release, especially with endocannabinoids that interact with the CB1 receptor (found mainly throughout the brain). It is perhaps CBD’s known indirect stimulation with this same receptor that could explain its ability to reduce the length and severity of some seizures.
Epilepsy is a term that actually covers a wide variety of disorders, upwards of 40 have so far been identified. Some of the studies on CBD's therapeutic benefits point to positive results for the treatment of grand mal, cortical focal, complex partial, and temporal lobe seizures. However, researchers are hopeful that through further clinical trials they will be able to identify better which circumstances are best for CBD therapy. Most patients (and families) are hopeful that CBD oil will prove to have significant benefit where other medications have failed.