Cannabis-based medicine has been documented for its anti-epileptic properties since the late 1880’s. Today, there is a growing body of evidence into how cannabis, and in particular cannabidiol (CBD) works to control epileptic seizures. This, in turn, is prompting a growing number of people to turn to CBD for epilepsy treatment.
Understanding Epilepsy, Seizures and CBD
Before we get into the specifics of CBD for epilepsy and seizures, let’s go through some of the basics.
What are Seizures?
Seizures are a common symptom of conditions affecting the brain, spinal cord, and nervous system.
Neurons are behind all the internal signalling happening in the body. Seizures are caused by the abnormal firing of neurons in the brain.
Conditions such as epilepsy affect the proper functioning of these neurons, causing them to fire rapidly and abnormally. This ultimately results in seizures of various degrees.
What is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is one of the most common long-term neurological disorders affecting people of all ages. It is usually a lifelong condition, producing recurring epileptic seizures.
Epilepsy can be caused by both environmental and genetic factors. However, head trauma, inflammation, tumors, or brain diseases can also end up causing epilepsy.
Can CBD Help Treat Epilepsy?
There is a very strong and growing body of evidence showing that cannabidiol can help control seizures caused by epilepsy and other conditions.
News of CBD’s anticonvulsive properties first broke in 2013 with the story of Charlotte Figi, a girl from Colorado, USA.
Charlotte, born in 2006, has Dravet syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy which, in Charlotte’s case, caused her to have around 400 seizures per week.
Some of these seizures lasted for over 30 minutes.
Charlotte’s parents discovered that a CBD-rich cannabis extract was the only thing able to reduce their daughter’s seizures and improve her overall condition.
However, this is not an isolated case. The American Epilepsy Society officially confirmed that CBD helps reduce epileptic seizures.
The society published a study (one of the largest of its kind) testing the efficacy and safety of CBD on children and young adults with hard-to-treat forms of epilepsy such as Dravet syndrome.
The results from the study were clear:
CBD helped reduce both the frequency and severity of seizures, sometimes by as much as 45%.
This is far from the only study exploring the effects of CBD on epilepsy and seizures, however.
A clinical study published in The Lancet, a highly-regarded, peer-reviewed medical journal, in 2016 involved over 210 patients with epilepsy who were treated with a 99% CBD extract for 12 weeks.
The study found that cannabidiol reduced seizures by an average of 36% and 2% of all patients became completely seizure free following the treatment.
How does CBD work?
Although there is a growing body of evidence documenting CBD’s anticonvulsive properties, it isn’t exactly clear how CBD works to control seizures.
Cannabinoids such as CBD interact with the Endocannabinoid System (or ECS), a biological system present in all mammals.
While we don’t know exactly how the ECS works, we know it is responsible for regulating internal body functions. It helps with restoring balance and equilibrium between all internal systems, also known as homeostasis.
For more details about the Endocannabinoid System, you can read our page explaining it in more detail.
Research suggests that CBD is able to affect specific receptors and channels in the brain that can help calm the abnormal firing of neurons, and thereby help control seizures.
Can I Use CBD to Treat My Epilepsy/Seizures?
Every person is unique and everyone reacts differently to the same product or chemical. It is true for most pharmaceutical drugs, and it’s also true for cannabinoids.
While some people experience incredible results, others are reporting little to no improvement. It is however important to give CBD a try, and take it in a correct, systematic way.
Do not be discouraged if you don’t see immediate results. CBD needs to build up slowly and steadily to obtain the best results.
If you are worried you will get “high” from CBD products, don’t! Unlike THC, CBD is non-psychoactive. This means CBD will NOT get you high!
Most legal CBD supplement products, including our Premium Full Spectrum CannaDrops oils, contain only trace amounts of THC (<0.2%). This is a very low concentration and will not get you high.
The trace amount of THC in Full Spectrum CBD oils works in synergy with CBD and other phytocannabinoids for maximum therapeutic effects. This is called the Entourage Effect.
What are the Benefits of Using CBD for Epilepsy and Seizures?
There’s no shortage of anticonvulsant drugs available on the market. So why would you get CBD for epilepsy?
The short answer is that CBD has very few side effects. When you look at the side effects of regular anticonvulsant drugs, this is a massive benefit.
CBD is a natural compound found in the cannabis plant, that helps treat symptoms in the most natural way possible. Synthetic pharmaceutical drugs on the other hand can cause a wide range of side effects.
Furthermore, as evidenced in Charlotte’s case earlier, in some cases, CBD is the only treatment that works for hard to treat conditions like Dravet syndrome.
Finally, most CBD products are currently available in shops as food supplements, so you do not need a prescription for them. You should however consult with a specialist, especially if you are on other medication.
How to Use CBD for Epilepsy
There are various delivery methods for CBD. The most popular and efficient delivery method is in the form of sublingual oils.
CBD oil taken under the tongue provides the highest bioavailability, and is the preferred intake method for most users.
A CBD Usage Manual, which contains general instructions on taking CBD oil can be downloaded HERE.
Below you will find a list of useful links, and the most current research on CBD for epilepsy and seizures.
- CBD for children with Dravet’s and intractable seizures (Video)
- Project CBD | Epilepsy and Seizures
- Report of a parent survey of CBD-enriched cannabis use in pediatric treatment-resistant epilepsy
- Medicinal marijuana stops seizures, brings hope to a little girl
- Cannabinoids for epilepsy
- Cannabis, CBD, and epilepsy – From receptors to clinical response
- The non-psychotropic plant cannabinoids, cannabidivarin (CBDV) and cannabidiol (CBD), activate and desensitize transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) channels in vitro: potential for the treatment of neuronal hyperexcitability
- Chronic administration of CBD to healthy volunteers and epileptic patients
- Endocannabinoid system protects against cryptogenic seizures
- Seizing an opportunity for the endocannabinoid system
- Cannabidiol: promise and pitfalls
- Cannabidiol: Pharmacology and potential therapeutic role in epilepsy and other neuropsychiatric disorders
- Report of a parent survey of cannabidiol-enriched cannabis use in pediatrictreatment-resistant epilepsy
- Cannabidivarin (CBDV) suppressespentylenetetrazole (PTZ)-inducedincreases in epilepsy-related gene expression
- CBD exerts anti-convulsant effects in animal models of temporal lobe and partial seizures
- Cannabidiol displays antiepileptiform and antiseizure properties in vitro and in vivo
- Hypnotic and antiepileptic effects of CBD
- The cannabinoids as potential antiepileptics
- Cannabidiol–antiepileptic drug comparisons and interactions in experimentally induced seizures in rats
- CBD Post-Treatment Alleviates Rat Epileptic-Related Behaviors
- Pharmacology of cannabinoids in the treatment of epilepsy
- Therapeutic effects of cannabinoids in animal models of seizures, epilepsy, epileptogenesis, and epilepsy-related neuroprotection
- Report from a Survey of Parents Regarding the Use of Cannabidiol in Mexican Children with Refractory Epilepsy.
- Protective Effects of Cannabidiol against Seizures and Neuronal Death in a Rat Model of Mesial Temporal Lobe Epilepsy
- CBD Treatment for Refractory Seizures in Sturge-Weber Syndrome
- Could Cannabidiol be a Treatment Option for Intractable Childhood and Adolescent Epilepsy?