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CBD for Epilepsy: A Hope for a Seizure-free World

It is estimated that Epilepsy affects over 50 million people worldwide. This neurological disorder, which manifests as spontaneous convulsions and loss of consciousness, is caused due to high neurological firing in the brain area. The population of epileptic children is 140,000 in the U.S. and 230,000 in Europe, which is extremely sad. The statistics provided in the 2012 edition of Pediatrics magazine shows that out of every 1000 children, 7 are diagnosed with this condition.

Why Conventional Treatments are Failing to Treat Epilepsy?

Unfortunately, the cellular and genetic mechanisms underlying epilepsy vary from one individual to another. The reasons for sudden seizures are poorly understood, especially in children and teenagers among whom this illness is more prevalent (10.5 million cases worldwide). The available anticonvulsant medications are associated with toxicity and other side effects, including a serious impairment of brain development in children. Furthermore, these drugs are rarely effective at therapeutic doses. Nearly 30% of epilepsy patients are pharmacoresistant, i.e. convulsions persist even after prolonged treatment using multiple drugs or the side effects are too severe.

Cannabidiol (CBD) for Epilepsy:

The use of cannabis as a potential treatment for a wide range of neurologic problems, including epilepsy, is hotly debated all over the world. However, medical marijuana is not yet fully legalized, and the amount of scientific research on how safe and useful it is (in controlling seizures) is inadequate. The available research suggests that cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), two significant cannabinoids present in cannabis act on specific cells (cannabinoid receptors) in our bodies. While both are believed to inhibit seizures, the latter may cause cognitive impairment and addiction. Therefore, most cannabis extracts available today have less than 3 percent of THC.

Stories of cannabis’s potential to mitigate seizures have been around for more than a century. However, when the news about Charlotte Figi, an 8-year old epileptic girl who was miraculously healed by hemp oil, surfaced in 2013, parents are increasingly showing interest to use CBD-rich products to help their epileptic children. Some are even choosing to relocate to states like Colorado where medical use of cannabis is legal.

Recent Studies:

An elaborate study focusing on CBD’s effectiveness in treating epilepsy was conducted in 2015 and the results were published by the American Academy of Neurology. Data was collected from 137 epilepsy patients (aging between 2 and 26) who were given Epidolex, a drug containing 99% CBD, for 3 months or more. During this period, it was observed that after twelve weeks of using Epidiolex, the frequency of seizures was found to be 54 percent less than before. Only 14 subjects withdrew from the test because the drug could not improve their condition. Therefore, CBD helped nearly 90 percent of test subjects.

Though a large number of scientists believe that CBD can be used for treating epileptic convulsions, we know very little about how the drug works inside the body. But, we know for sure that CBD is entirely different from other seizure-controlling drugs we know. Let’s hope the Federal government fully legalizes the use of cannabis extracts for medical purposes and funds further research on CBD’s therapeutic effects.