Epilepsy and seizures

Epilepsy and seizures

What are Epilepsy and Seizures?

Epilepsy is a chronic disorder that is characterized by unpredictable seizures that occur without a trigger. A seizure is a sudden electrical disturbance in the brain. There are multiple types of seizures, and people with epilepsy may experience different types throughout the duration of the disorder. The major two types of seizures are focal and generalized. Focal seizures are also called partial seizures because they are characterized by activity within one brain hemisphere. Generalized seizures involve both hemispheres and there are different types of generalized seizures. There are other types of epileptic seizures and non-epileptic seizures that can be caused by other reasons.

The cause of epilepsy is unknown; however, epilepsy may be linked to injuries in the brain or to family history. Many people with epilepsy also have other neurological problems. Severe epilepsy in childhood may be accompanied by neurodevelopmental delays.

Seizures may affect a person’s life quality as well as pose safety concerns with activities such as driving or swimming.

How can CBD help with epilepsy?

Among a number of therapeutic properties of cannabidiol (CBD), which are anti-inflammatory, anxiolytic (reduces anxiety), antioxidant, neuroprotective and anticonvulsant, the latter has been recently recognized by FDA.  On June 25, 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved CBD to treat two forms of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome in patients two years of age and older. These forms of epilepsy are quite rare, but there is plenty of evidence that CBD can be helpful in with other forms of epilepsy and/or seizures.

  • Dravet syndrome is a type of epilepsy that frequently appears during the first year of life, often triggered by vaccination. It often involves specific genetic mutations. It is common for Dravet syndrome to begin with frequent seizures, sometimes triggered by fever (febrile seizures). As a child grows, many types of seizures and status epilepticus are common signs of the syndrome. Developmental delays become evident usually after the second or third year of life.
  • Lennox-Gastaut syndrome is characterized by frequent seizures from ages three to five and almost all of these children develop intellectual disability, and many have delayed development of motor skills such as crawling and sitting. These developmental delays are often noticeable before the onset of seizures. People with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome mostly require help with their daily activities.

To approve CBD (Epidiolex) for treatment of these two forms of epilepsy, its effectiveness was studied in three clinical trials with 516 patients with either of the two syndromes. These experiments were randomized, meaning that the patients were given CBD or a placebo on a random basis, and double-blind, meaning that neither doctors nor patients knew whether the patients were taking CBD or placebo. The result showed that CBD did reduce the frequency of seizures.

What about other types of epilepsy and/or seizures?

While the other conditions have not been approved by the FDA to be treated by CBD, we would like to bring readers’ attention to studies that demonstrate the potential of CBD for treating these conditions, too. In 1980, a study was published on the administration of CBD to healthy volunteers and epileptic patients. Of eight patients who had epilepsy, CBD was effective in seven and four patients became almost free of seizures. For the remaining one person with epilepsy, CBD was ineffective but did not worsen it.  Similarly, in 2010 and in 2012, animal studies showed that CBD had the potential to become a novel antiepileptic drug against generalized seizures.

The effectiveness of CBD as an anticonvulsant may result from its interaction with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) within our bodies. One study demonstrated that the ECS may be related to seizures of unknown origin (cryptogenic seizures). This was shown in 2011, when rats that received specific treatments that would actually suppress ECS, developed unexplained seizures. This suggests that inhibition of the ECS may result in seizures. Other studies in 2012 suggested that CBD may be preventing suppression of the ECS in our bodies.

When dealing with people with epilepsy and/or seizures, it is very important to be cautious and to not aggravate the frequency of seizures. A big benefit of using CBD as an anticonvulsant is that CBD does not result in side effects. This was reported in the studies mentioned earlier. In some experimental groups, CBD was administered along with antiepileptic drugs and there was no drug interaction. Nevertheless, the number of seizures reduced after adding CBD.

For our patients who would like to use CBD to fight epilepsy and/or seizures, we recommend CBD oil from Oliver’s Harvest. It contains full-spectrum CBD extract and zero tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

You can read a few published studies on how CBD and other cannabinoids affect epilepsy and/or seizures at the following links:

FDA approves the first drug comprised of an active ingredient derived from marijuana to treat rare, severe forms of epilepsy

Chronic administration of cannabidiol to healthy volunteers and epileptic patients.

Cannabidiol displays antiepileptiform and antiseizure properties in vitro and in vivo.

Cannabidiol exerts anti-convulsant effects in animal models of temporal lobe and partial seizures.

Endocannabinoid system protects against cryptogenic seizures.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed do not necessarily represent any university, business or affiliates. While the information provided in this article is from published scientific studies, it is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease. Coast to Coast Natural is not responsible for the views and opinions shared in this article.

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