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An Evidence-Based Perspective in Managing Epilepsy with Medical Cannabis.

Dante
 | 
Last Updated: 
Epilepsy And Cannabis






Epilepsy, a neurological disorder marked by sudden recurrent episodes of sensory disturbance, loss of consciousness, or convulsions, affects millions worldwide.



Overview of Cannabis and its Medicinal Components


Cannabis is a plant used medicinally for thousands of years.

The primary active compounds are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

THC is psychoactive, responsible for the ‘high’ associated with cannabis use, while CBD is not.

These compounds interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, involved in numerous physiological processes, including modulation of seizure activity, suggesting potential for cannabis in epilepsy management.



Epilepsy and Cannabis


Epilepsy is a neurological disorder characterized by recurrent, unprovoked seizures.

These seizures result from abnormal brain activity and can cause a variety of symptoms, from brief lapses in attention to convulsions.

Epilepsy can be treated with anti-epileptic drugs, but these can have significant side effects and are not always effective.



Research on Cannabis for Epilepsy


The therapeutic potential of cannabis, particularly CBD, for epilepsy has been investigated in recent years.

A landmark study published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2017 found that CBD significantly reduced the frequency of seizures in children with Dravet syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy (Devinsky et al., 2017).

Other studies, including a 2018 double-blind randomized controlled trial published in The Lancet, found that CBD resulted in a greater reduction in seizure frequency for patients with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, another severe form of epilepsy (Thiele et al., 2018).



Recommended Strains for Epilepsy


Some cannabis strains may be more beneficial for epilepsy, particularly those high in Indica strains. It was noted that seizures significantly reduced after taking oil extracted from this strain in a young girl with Dravet syndrome characterised by many episodes of seizures.



Patient Stories


There are numerous anecdotes of epilepsy patients experiencing fewer or less severe seizures with cannabis use.

Many patients find they experience fewer side effects with cannabis than with traditional anti-epileptic drugs.


Potential Side Effects and Risks


Cannabis can cause side effects like dry mouth, fatigue, and dizziness.

It can also impair short-term memory and coordination and increase heart rate.

Long-term use can lead to cognitive impairment and mental health issues in susceptible individuals.


Growing Cannabis for Medicinal Purposes


If you’re considering growing your own cannabis for epilepsy management, several factors come into play.

Choose strains that have demonstrated efficacy for seizure control.

Understand your local legal regulations, provide adequate growing conditions, and prepare for challenges like pest control and nutrient management.


Conclusion


Medical cannabis, particularly CBD, shows promise in managing epilepsy, potentially offering relief for patients who have not responded to conventional treatments.

While more research is needed, the existing evidence, along with patient experiences, offers hope.

As always, remember the importance of discussing any new treatment with a healthcare professional.



References


Devinsky, O., et al. (2017). Trial of Cannabidiol for Drug-Resistant Seizures in the Dravet Syndrome. New England Journal of Medicine, 376(21), 2011-2020.

Thiele, E. A., et al. (2018). Cannabidiol in patients with seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (GWPCARE4): a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase 3 trial. The Lancet, 391(10125), 1085-1096.



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