What is epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a neurological condition that is characterized by seizures that begin in the brain. There are dozens of different types of seizures and epileptic conditions, varying in intensity from mild to debilitating or even fatal. Millions of people are affected by epilepsy, which can develop at any stage of life. Approximately 1 in 26 Americans are affected by the disorder, many of whom are unable to pinpoint a specific cause or root of the disorder. Some people are born with epileptic disorders, while others can slowly develop over time, or be brought on by an illness or injury. Seizures and seizure disorders vary from person to person, which makes the conditions difficult to treat.
There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for epilepsy and seizure-related disorders. However, cannabis-based treatments, particularly high-CBD formulations, are widely accepted to be beneficial to some of the most debilitating forms of epilepsy.
How cannabis helps with seizures
Seizures occur when part of the brain becomes overexcited, causing neurons to “misfire” and communicate information in an abnormal way. The endocannabinoid system works to regulate brain and nervous system functions, with animal studies showing that endocannabinoid receptors are especially activated during seizures. This is why cannabinoids, which modify the endocannabinoid receptors and help them maintain normal levels, are useful in treating seizure disorders. In recent years, CBD especially has proven successful treating rare and debilitating seizure disorders in children.
How CBD oil for seizures changed the United States
In 2013, cannabis was used to treat an eight-year-old girl who was suffering from over 200 seizures a day. Her parents turned to cannabis out of desperation when all conventional treatments failed. They worked with growers in Colorado to find a low-THC, high-CBD strain of cannabis that could help their daughter without any psychoactive effects. The results were stunning – her seizures stopped almost immediately, and she quickly began to regain lost cognitive function and live a normal childhood. The strain of cannabis, Charlotte’s Web, was named after her and is now used to treat thousands of patients suffering from epilepsy, Parkinson’s, cancer, and a variety of other conditions. Her story changed the way many people view medical cannabis and paved the way for countless others to finally get the help they needed.
Legal cannabis treatment for seizures
In 2018, the FDA approved Epidolex, a seizure medication made of purified CBD oil. While it’s far from a signal that medical cannabis could become legal soon, it is a huge step in the direction of normalizing cannabis treatments. More FDA-approved studies and research into different forms of cannabis-based treatments could be on the horizon, which means people seeking medical cannabis could soon have easier access to better, cleaner, and more regulated options.