CBD Oil And Epilepsy: Can It Stop Seizures?

WRITTEN by Edd

 | Last revised

Can CBD oil minimise or stop epileptic seizures?

Approximately 1 in 3 Australians suffers from a drug-resistant form of Epilepsy, which is where two approved medications have failed to stop seizures.

Having poorly controlled seizures can severely impact a person’s life, so it’s no wonder that many people are now turning to more natural alternatives, such as CBD, to help mitigate symptoms.

Emerging research is starting to uncover the potential benefits of CBD for a range of epileptic conditions.

Here’s what we know so far.

Treating Epilepsy With CBD Oil: How does it work?

Cannabinoids from cannabis and hemp interact with a system of neurotransmitters and receptors in your body called the endocannabinoid system.

This system is still being studied, but it is believed to play a role in regulating important functions such as appetite, sleep, pain, and immune system responses.

CBD may modify these functions in various ways by interacting with receptors in your endocannabinoid system.

The limited research available today suggests CBD’s effects on seizures might come from reducing neuron sensitivity by interacting with two groups of receptors called GPR55 and TRPV1 receptors.

CBD For Epilepsy Conditions

Research on CBD oil’s ability to treat seizures is ongoing. The effects of CBD on epilepsy are most thoroughly studied in relation to seizures caused by three different conditions:

Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome

Lennox-Gastaut syndrome accounts for about 2 to 5 per cent of childhood epilepsy cases.

A study consisting of two 14-week clinical trials examined the effectiveness of Epidolex, a cannabis epilepsy medication containing CBD, at reducing seizures in people with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.

The study found that taking Epidolex at a dosage of 20 mg per kg of body weight reduced the number of seizures participants experienced by more than 40% for around half of the trial group. [1]

Dravet Syndrome

Dravet syndrome is a rare form of epilepsy that causes seizures that don’t respond well to many medications usually used to treat epilepsy.

In a clinical trial, researchers found that participants taking 20 mg/kg of Epidolex experienced a 39% drop in seizure frequency across the group. [1]

Tuberous Sclerosis Complex

Tuberous sclerosis complex is a rare genetic disorder that causes tumours to grow around different areas of the body.

When it causes tumours to develop in the brain, this can cause a person to start suffering from seizures.

In a clinical trial, researchers looked at the effects of taking Epidolex daily on a group of 148 participants with tuberous sclerosis complex. The result was an improvement of 48 per cent fewer seizures. [1]

It is important to be aware that in each of these studies, while the group saw an improvement as a whole, not all participants had a significant benefit from CBD.

Some people saw only minor reductions in the number of seizures they had, and a small number experienced more.

bottle of Epidiolex with syringe and pack

CBD For Epilepsy From Other Conditions

Whether CBD can also effectively treat seizures caused by other conditions needs further investigation. However, some early studies have suggested that it may be possible.

For example, research has found evidence that CBD may improve the effectiveness of the anti-epilepsy drug clobazam. CBD may also boost the effects of some other drugs used to treat seizures. [2][3]

CBD Dosage For Epilepsy

It is vital to communicate with your doctor when starting to use CBD to treat epilepsy. CBD may interact with a range of medications.

Furthermore, the effective dosage for each person can vary greatly based on many factors, and you should work your way up to the right dosage with your doctor’s advice.

When prescribed CBD for epilepsy by your doctor, they will usually advise you to start at a low dosage and increase it slowly. This will enable you and your doctor to keep an eye on any side effects.
If you start using CBD oil for epilepsy, stopping your routine intake of CBD suddenly could result in an increase in seizures. As a result, you should also talk to your doctor if you decide to stop taking CBD.

CBD And Other Epilepsy Medications

CBD might interact with some medications used to control seizures. In some cases, it may make the medication more or less effective or cause adverse side effects. CBD is known to interact with: [4]

  • Brivaracetam
  • Clobazam
  • Eslicarbazepine
  • Stiripentol
  • Rufinamide
  • Topiramate
  • Valproic acid
  • Zonisamide

Side Effects Of Using CBD For Seizures

CBD can have minor side effects for some people. These include fatigue, nausea, and diarrhoea.

Low-quality products from the green market may contain contaminants that have other consequences for your health.

If you’re considering purchasing through the green market, ensure you do your homework.

It’s important to find out about the extraction method, whether the hemp has been grown organically if the product is full-spectrum and has an accompanying Certificate of Analysis.

There are green market suppliers who are doing the right thing; it just takes a bit of elbow grease to find the right one.

Cannabis And Epilepsy

Using cannabis for epilepsy gets results because it contains CBD. There is no conclusive research to suggest that THC has antiseizure properties.

However, it is theorised that many of the therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids found in hemp and cannabis are improved by the presence of other compounds found in the plant.

As a result, the small amount of THC found in full spectrum CBD extracts may assist their antiseizure effects.

One study found that whole-plant medical cannabis, meaning it includes THC at varying levels, is a well-tolerated and effective medicine for reducing the frequency of seizures in children suffering from intractable epilepsies. [5]

Hemp plants contain a small amount of THC, so you can benefit from the full entourage effect without the intoxication of cannabis by using full spectrum hemp extracts or smoking hemp flower.

More research is needed to understand the full implications of marijuana and epilepsy.

CBD Reduces Seizures For Some People

While research is ongoing into the interactions between cannabis and epilepsy, CBD certainly seems to reduce the occurrence of seizures for a significant number of people. This does not mean it will be effective for everyone, however.

You should always talk to your doctor before taking CBD to treat epilepsy. CBD oil is not a cure, and you should never stop taking your epilepsy medication without advice from a medical professional.

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References

1. N/A, "Epidiolex Patient Instructions".
Epidiolex.
https://www.epidiolex.com/sites/default/files/pdfs/1020/EPX-03633-1020_EPIDIOLEX_(cannabidiol)_USPI_v8.0.pdf.
2. Alexandra Geffrey, "Drug-drug interaction between clobazam and cannabidiol in children with refractory epilepsy".
National Library of Medicine.
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26114620/.
3. Orrin Devinsky et al., " Open-label use of highly purified CBD (Epidiolex®) in patients with CDKL5 deficiency disorder and Aicardi, Dup15q, and Doose syndromes".
National Library of Medicine.
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30006259/.
4. Alessano Morano et al., "Cannabinoids in the Treatment of Epilepsy: Current Status and Future Prospects".
National Library of Medicine.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7012327/.
5. Rayyan Zafar, Anne Schlag, Lawrence Phillips, David J Nutt, "Medical cannabis for severe treatment resistant epilepsy in children: a case-series of 10 patients ".
BMJ Paediatrics Open.
https://bmjpaedsopen.bmj.com/content/5/1/e001234.

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Disclaimer. While we strive to relay the most factual education available, this shouldn’t replace official medical or legal consultation and recommendation. This is for educational and entertainment purposes only. Happy days.

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