Currently, 3 million Americans live with epilepsy. Out of these 3 million people, about one-third do not respond well to any available treatment. Even with 20 anti-seizure drugs on the market, they do not help improve their quality of life. Their resistance to medications, surgeries, diets, surgically implanted electronic stimulation devices, and other forms of alternative therapy, have left them with little to no hope.
The rarest and most resistant to treatment forms of epilepsy are Lennox-Gaustat Syndrome and Dravet Syndrome, both of which develop early in childhood. The parents of these children worry that, if left untreated, their children’s seizures can negatively affect the central nervous system in the long run.
When all the treatment options have been exhausted, many people turn to cannabidiol (CBD) oil to treat their symptoms. Cannabis is composed of two main compounds, CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The THC in cannabis is the compound commonly known to produce that euphoric “high” feeling. CBD, on the other hand, is the non-psychoactive component that is also anti-inflammatory and provides pain relief.
Although there is very limited clinical research to support this, CBD oil has also been known to have anti-seizure effects. As far back as 1800 B.C.E., the ancient Sumerians treated epilepsy with cannabis. Flash forward to the Victorian era and you’d see neurologists treat epilepsy with Indian hemp achieving successful results.
Cannabis use for the treatment of epilepsy diminished with the introduction of other treatment options and the passage of the highly-restrictive Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. We continue to see pharmaceutical companies lobbying against the use of CBD oil. States that have introduced medical marijuana laws have also seen a steady decline in prescriptions for anti-seizure drugs.
So far, research has shown that people with epilepsy also have “defects” in their endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system essentially maintains homeostasis, a stable internal environment. Researchers have found that organic CBD oil has anticonvulsant effects, but they still don’t know how the mechanism of action works.
Research is stalled by federal marijuana laws that classify cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug, with the likes of heroin, LSD, and ecstasy. The American Epilepsy Society (APS) remains hopeful that one day clinical trials will be able to scientifically test the effects of CBD on epilepsy. If epilepsy is affecting your quality of life, CBD oil can be an alternative to the ineffective treatment options available.