Up to 3 million Americans suffer from epilepsy and seizures; this is according to a study by the Epilepsy Foundation. Seizures can either be nonepileptic or epileptic. An epileptic seizure occurs two or more times without being influenced by health issues such as blood clots.
While there is no cure for these seizures, certain medications have been used to prevent their occurrence. However, most of these treatments have side effects and health risks for old patients and women. The use of medical marijuana to control seizures is a growing area of study for pharmaceutical groups. Here is a look at whether medical marijuana is effective in treating seizure disorders.
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Studies On The Effect Of Cannabis On Seizures
According to one study, cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) is effective in controlling epileptic seizures. The study involved children suffering from dissociative seizures and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Those who took oral CBD experienced a high reduction in their seizures than those who took a placebo. A separate study also found that CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) combination helped reduce seizure frequency in children suffering from Dravet syndrome. Dravet syndrome is a disorder characterized by nearly continuous drug-resistant seizures.
In the U.S., studies on the effect of cannabis on seizures have revolved around a drug known as Epidolex, a plant-based formulation of CBD. Findings from these studies led to the approval of Epidolex for pain medication. Researchers studied this medication in clinical trials. The studies involved a control group that took a placebo and another that was given CBD.
The findings of the study were published in the New England Journal of Medicine. According to the results of this study, the incorporation of CBD to conventional seizure medication lowered the frequency of seizures in children and adults suffering from LGS. The study further showed that for people with Dravet syndrome, CBD decreased convulsive seizures than placebo.
How Does Medical Cannabis Work?
Medical cannabis is the cannabis that is used by a doctor or a licensed health care practitioner for treating a medical condition. The main component of medical cannabis is Cannabidiol (CBD). This compound is derived from the hemp plant. CBD is among more than 100 chemicals found in the hemp plant. These chemicals are called cannabinoids. Tetrahydrocannabinol is another cannabinoid, but it is associated with euphoria or intoxication.
These cannabinoids bind themselves to receptors in a patient’s brain to relieve pain in conditions like HIV/AIDS and multiple sclerosis. When these cannabinoids attach themselves to the receptors, they block pain signals. CBD is not limited to pain receptors alone; it also affects other brain signaling systems and has anti-inflammatory and protective properties.
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Seizure Symptoms Treated By Medical Marijuana
Medical marijuana has been endorsed by medical professionals to relieve multiple symptoms in patients experiencing seizures. The side effects of seizures vary depending on the patient. However, many patients report relief from some of the following symptoms when under medical marijuana medication:
- Feelings of anxiety
- Vomiting, gastrointestinal discomfort, and nausea
- Uncontrollable body movements, spasms, or jerking
Cannabis has pain reduction and anti-inflammatory elements that can help patients recovering from seizures. It helps boost the body’s serotonin levels leading to better emotional health.
What Strains of Marijuana Are Used For Seizures?
There are more than 85 types of cannabinoids. CBD is the most popular cannabinoid. CBD is acknowledged for its relief of discomfort and for reducing seizures in some patients. This cannabinoid binds itself to receptors in the body. The other common type of cannabinoid is THC. THC attaches itself to brain receptors resulting in a psychoactive response.
The cannabinoids that target seizures include CBD, Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid (THCA), Cannabinol (CBN), and Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV). By using these cannabinoids, growers can provide marijuana strains for treating epilepsy.
In the U.S., growers produce over 80 marijuana strains for the treatment of seizures. One of the most common strains is Charlotte’s Web. This strain of marijuana was made for Charlotte Figi. Charlotte used medical marijuana to treat her seizures, which decreased from 1,200 a month to two episodes. A study of Charlotte’s Web established that patients reported a significant decrease in their seizures while others even became seizure-free after taking the medication. Some of the other marijuana strains used for treating seizures and epilepsy include:
- Bedford Glue
- Grapefruit Kush
- Larry Bird Kush
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There is still inconclusive evidence to conclude that medical marijuana is effective in treating seizures. However, there are ongoing studies to determine how medical marijuana works to relieve seizures. Many studies have shown that when taken with conventional treatment, cannabis has helped reduce seizures for conditions such as Epilepsy, LGS, and Dravet Syndrome.
The active component in the cannabis plant that is associated with health benefits is cannabidiol or CBD. In the U.S., the FDA has approved a drug-based product of cannabidiol, Epidolex, for medical use. For more information regarding medical marijuana treatment, or to get your cannabis card, visit MMJ Doctors. You can also book an appointment by calling (786)422-9327 today.