A full and comprehensive review regarding what the studies say about using CBD for the treatment of epilepsy.
Introduction To CBD
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of over 100 naturally occurring compounds found exclusively within the cannabis plant, called cannabinoids. It is a non-intoxicating substance that has no known overdose limit and isn’t addictive. So, it won’t get you ‘high’ and can’t be used as a recreational narcotic.
CBD has recently taken off in the media, being heralded as an all-singing, all-dancing health supplement, as well as being prescribed in medical settings for specific conditions, such as certain types of epilepsy.
Traditionally, CBD is extracted from industrial hemp and is used to relieve a wealth of different health conditions from autoimmune disorders, such as Crohn’s disease & Parkinson’s Disease, to helping with acne and the symptoms of anxiety and depression (the most common reasons that people use CBD in the UK).
CBD And Epilepsy – What Do The Studies Say?
A CBD product is available on prescription in the UK for two specific types of epilepsy, called Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. For a drug to be made available on prescription there has to be scientific data concluding that not only does the substance help with the condition, but it does so without producing any unwelcome side-effects.
Examples of some studies conducted are: –
- A 2017 study concluded that CBD reduced the number of seizures in drug-resistant patients suffering from Dravet’s syndrome.
- A 2019 study concluded that CBD is completely safe for use in patients with Dravet’s syndrome and effectively reduced the number of seizures suffered by patients who previously were unresponsive to other treatments.
- A 2019 study concludes that CBD significantly reduces seizures in patients with both Dravet’s syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut’s syndrome.
- A 2018 study also demonstrated seizure reduction but also advised that further research is needed to understand how CBD controls the seizures. This is to help determine whether tolerance is built up to CBD over time, which is unknown.
What You Should Take From These Studies?
It is fairly conclusive from evidence provided in the above studies that CBD is completely safe to use and is effective in treating the seizures associated with Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. However, it isn’t yet conclusive that CBD has the ability to relieve seizures from all types of epilepsy, although preliminary findings are starting to suggest that CBD may help these.
How Does Taking CBD Affect Your Body?
CBD, like all of the other cannabinoids, affects your body by interacting with your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). These cannabinoids enhance the effects of the bodies own naturally occurring cannabinoids, such as anandamide.
Every complex living organism on earth from humans to the most primitive fish has an ECS, and it is just as necessary for the survival of humans as your respiratory or circulatory systems are.
When you consume CBD, it interacts with the receptors of the ECS to elicit its effect. When interacting with these receptors CBD has been shown to have positive effects on memory, inflammation, appetite, pain relief, anxiety, and depression, in addition to reducing seizures.
CBD For Epilepsy – Is It A Cure?
CBD effectively reduces the seizures suffered by people with epilepsy and it certainly increases their quality of life. Unfortunately, there is no known cure to fully prevent seizures as a result of epilepsy.
Because seizures with Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome are particularly severe, CBD is being used as a medication to be taken several times a day, with or without the current threat of a seizure. It seems that CBD will be utilised as a long-term treatment to reduce seizures in conjunction with other pharmaceutical medications to prevent tolerance build-up to medications.
CBD And Seizures – What Are The Benefits?
There is currently a wide range of pharmaceutical medications available in the UK that reduce seizures, so why has CBD become so popular?
It seems to be because CBD:-
- Causes little to no tolerance
- Is a natural compound
- Has few side effects
Little to No Tolerance
CBD doesn’t directly bind to the receptors of the ECS, so it doesn’t build up a tolerance in the same way other medications do, meaning that it can be used for long-term treatment.
Although being a natural compound doesn’t automatically qualify something as being safe; CBD is extracted from a cannabis plant as opposed to being made artificially in a lab.
Fewer Side Effects
Although CBD does have side-effects, they are only apparent in a small amount of patients and they are much less severe than most other medication used to treat epilepsy. It's clear that the benefits of CBD far outweigh the negative side effects.
CBD is not a cure for epilepsy, but it is by far the best treatment out there for a good proportion of patients in controlling the symptoms. If you looking for more information on how to find out your optimum dosage for epilepsy treatment, check out our CBD dosage guide! However, CBD is only currently being used in treating epilepsy when other forms of pharmaceutical medication have failed. Further research is needed into how effective as a long-term treatment, and once this is completed we may begin to see CBD as the first port of call for more epilepsy patients.