Does CBD oil really treat epilepsy, other disorders?

Recent discussions about Proposition 19 and the legalization of cannabis have led people to question if CBD oil really works as effective as the media portrays. Some have claimed that natural CBD oil works better than any anti-anxiety medicine on the market, along with most drugs used to treat epilepsy.

Do you know that:

  • Epilepsy affects roughly 50 million people across the globe
  • One in twenty-six people in the US are likely to develop epilepsy at some point of their life
  • Nearly 150,000 new cases related to epilepsy are reported annually in the US
  • Epilepsy is the 4 most common mental disorder

What is Epilepsy and how does CBD oil help?

Epilepsy can be best characterized as unpredictable and recurrent seizures. It is a chronic neurological disorder similar to seizures. Although it can develop at any age, it’s most common in children and seniors above 65.

The causes of epilepsy may vary from person to person and by age. Statistics show that 1/3 of children suffering from autism spectrum disorder experience epilepsy. Other causes of epilepsy include:

  • Strokes
  • Change in brain structure that causes abnormal electrical activity resulting in seizures and epilepsy
  • Brain infections – though initial brain infections can be treated with medicine but the infection can lead to brain scarring that can later trigger seizures

In newborns, seizures can occur due to low blood sugar levels and blood calcium, intracranial hemorrhage, and brain malformation.

However, the most common causes of epilepsy in adults are genetic factors, head trauma and sometimes even progressive neurological disease. Among seniors, common causes include strokes, trauma and Alzheimer’s disease.

What the experts are saying:

Extracted from the cannabis plant, the first record of CBD being used for treating epilepsy can be traced to the ancient Indian civilization. It has been recognized for its medicinal benefits since 1,000 BC. Unfortunately, the use of cannabis (marijuana) was prohibited during the early 20th century as it was considered to have psychoactive side effects. However, now, many researchers and medical professionals have started researching on CBD oil again in the hopes of finding valuable treatments for different diseases like cancer and epilepsy.

The good news is that the researches performed on CBD oil for epilepsy have shown promising results. Let’s take a deeper dive to see what studies have been performed and the result findings of those researches:

According to a study conducted in 1977, rats with experimentally-induced seizures showed significant benefits of CBD oil for epilepsy. The research basically focused on anti convulsion effects of THC and CBD with seven antiepileptic drugs most commonly used and prescribed. (1)

The research findings highlighted that CBD was equally effective as drugs like chlordiazepoxide and carbamazepine. The study also showed that it was more powerful than drugs like ethosuximide, trimethadione and phenytoin. In comparison to CBD, THC was slightly less effective. Another finding of this study that left researchers amazed was that CBD had the potential to interact with antiepileptics by either diminishing or enhancing its effects, depending on the drug type.

While most of the research studies on CBD (Cannabidiol) and its effects on seizures and epilepsy have been conducted on animals and in test-tubes (vitro), now after successful results of CBD on animals with experimentally-induced epilepsy, FDA has finally approved CBD trials on humans. In fact, several trials are now underway to see Cannabidiol’s effects on epilepsy, especially in children.

The initial results of CBD studies on humans have been equally as promising as they have been on animals. (2)  According to a medical study conducted in 2009 in the UK, the use of CBD oil by patients suffering from epilepsy had positive, measurable and also statistically significant effects in both lowering symptoms of seizures as wells as diminishing its intensity and frequency. Looking at the impressive results, researchers are performing more studies on CBD for different types of seizures and intensity to fully understand the exact mechanism of CBD and how it acts to inhibit/lower epileptic seizures.

At this stage, scientists and medical professionals are slightly conservative about fully replacing antiepileptic drugs with CBD oil for treating epilepsy and chronic seizures but they nonetheless, do agree that CBD oil can be used along with antiepileptic drugs to alleviate the symptoms, intensity and frequency of epilepsy syndrome.

Another study that is worthy of mentioning is the report that highlighted Cannabidiol enriched cannabis used in pediatric treatment resistant epilepsy.(3) The report showed positive effects of CBD for treatment resistant epilepsy which included a medical condition known as Dravet’s syndrome. This is a rare condition that causes serious epileptic-seizures in young children. Handling these types of cases is most difficult, typically because children suffering from Dravet’s syndrome respond weakly and sometimes not at all to antiepileptic conventional drugs. Since the report finding showed positive results among such children, this has truly given both scientists and parents the hope that soon enough there will be an effective cure for treating Dravet’s syndrome and their children will be able to resume normal lives. Scientists are researching on CBD oil for epilepsy and need more evidence to state anything conclusive.

What Can We Conclude About CBD Oil?

By looking at the facts highlighted above, it can be said that epilepsy is a serious condition and we need powerful solutions to treat it so that it doesn’t impact our lives and day to day activities. And what can be concluded from the researches that we have discussed is that researchers are positive about finding a breakthrough treatment in Cannabidiol for alleviating symptoms of epilepsy and lowering its frequency. So far, researches conducted on both humans and animals show that CBD oil is effective for cases of epilepsy. However, let’s not forget that more researches are still underway before concluding CBD oil as a replacement or an alternative to already established and widely used antiepileptic drugs that are commonly used by patients with this condition.

And since administering medication to young children is a delicate matter, medical professionals urge caution. They advise families of the patients to be extremely careful when giving CBD oil to young children below the ages of 10. Although there is no known side effect of CBD oil but precaution is nonetheless advisable to ensure maximum safety.

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