Epilepsy affects nearly 50 million people worldwide and is labeled as one of the most common neurological diseases of our time. The condition causes uncontrollable and recurring seizures. Misfiring electrical signals in the bain cause convulsions and, sometimes, loss of conscience. This harsh disease can severely impact a person’s quality of life.
Epilepsy can be treated with medication, however, isolating the medication that will be effective for an individual can be a complicated process. These medications are also known to cause harsh side effects. These can include loss of coordination, depression, and inflammation of internal organs. Because of this, many people with epilepsy look for alternative ways to manage their seizures. One of the most popular alternatives is CBD oil for seizures.
If you suffer frequent seizures, or you know someone who does, you may have heard about CBD oil. But, does it work and is it safe? To answer these questions and more, here’s our comprehensive guide to using CBD oil for seizures.
What Is CBD Oil and How Does It Work?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a natural compound derived from the hemp plant. CBD is one of a family of compounds known as cannabinoids. CBD does not cause a high and it is non-toxic.
CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system in the body. This is a system of receptors that help maintain the natural balance of the body. The endocannabinoid system regulates a wide range of bodily functions, including pain, inflammation and some neurological functions.
When CBD enters the body, it interacts with the cannabinoid receptors. This causes a range of beneficial effects, including controlling inflammation and reducing pain. It has also been found that CBD has an anticonvulsant effect.
Many people who have epilepsy have found the CBD can be useful for managing seizures. Research into the use of CBD for seizures is still ongoing. However, there is now a large body of clinical evidence that confirms that CBD is an effective anticonvulsant.
Why Use CBD Oil for Seizures?
Approximately 30% of those people who have been diagnosed with epilepsy do not respond to the traditional treatments. This includes the commonly prescribed drugs, such as primidone, clonazepam, and phenytoin.
Traditional anti-seizure drugs can also cause side effects, some of which can be serious. The side effects of anti-seizure drugs can include liver failure, double vision, and weight gain.
CBD provides a natural way to control seizures. Most people have found that their seizures reduce in frequency and severity after taking CBD. Some people have found that taking CBD oil for seizures eliminated the occurrence of seizures altogether. Unlike Traditional anti-seizure drugs, CDB has no known negative side effects.
The use of CBD for seizures can also have other benefits for people with epilepsy. It has been proven that CBD can be used to treat anxiety and depression as well. Both of which are common conditions that people with epilepsy also suffer with.
Best CBD Products For Seizures & Epilepsy
Types of Seizures and Epilepsy
Epilepsy is not one single condition. There are many different types of epilepsy and many different types of seizures. Often, though, the only way to diagnose the type of epilepsy is to base the diagnosis on someone’s description of a seizure. Doctors now classify epilepsy based on the seizures as follows:
Generalized epilepsy is diagnosed when seizures emanate from both sides of the brain. There are two types of generalized epilepsy seizures:
Generalized Motor Seizures
Generalized motor seizures cause uncontrolled body movements. They used to be called grand mal seizures.
Generalized Non-Motor Seizures
Generalized non-motor seizures used to be called petit mal seizures. They cause symptoms such as staring into space and repeated movements or gestures.
Focal epilepsy seizures, which used to be called partial seizures, develop on one side of the brain. There are four different categories of focal epilepsy seizures.
Focal Aware Seizures
When focal aware seizures occur, the person is fully aware of what is happening. This type of seizure used to be known as a simple partial seizure.
Focal Impaired Awareness Seizures
A person experiencing a focal impaired awareness seizure will feel confused and may be unaware of what is happing. They may also not remember the seizure later. This type of seizure used to be known as a complex partial seizure.
Focal Motor Seizures
A focal motor seizure causes movement. A person may twitch, walk around or rub their hands together. Subtypes of this type of seizure include epileptic spasms, and tonic and clonic seizures.
Focal Non-Motor Seizures
Focal non-motor seizures cause changes in the way a person feels or thinks. It does not cause any movement. A person experiencing a focal non-motor seizure might feel intense emotions or odd feelings.
Generalized and Focal Epilepsy
A person with generalized and focal epilepsy will experience both generalized and focal seizures.
Unknown if Generalized or Focal Epilepsy
If doctors are unsure what type of seizures a person is experiencing, they will classify the condition as “unknown if generalized or focal epilepsy”. This can occur if tests do not show any clear results. It can also occur if no one else was present when the seizures occurred, so the symptoms cannot be described.
What Are the General Causes of Seizures?
Epilepsy is not one specific condition. It is a term used to describe a tendency to experience seizures. The cause of the seizures is not always identifiable. When the cause is identified, it is usually found to be related to a brain injury. In most cases, however, the cause cannot be identified. Some of the main identifiable causes of epilepsy are:
- Head injuries
- Lack of oxygen during birth
- Encephalitis or meningitis
- Genetic conditions, such as tuberous sclerosis
- Excessive levels of certain substances, including blood sugar or sodium
- Stroke or brain damage
Although the underlying cause of epilepsy is often not known, the triggers that cause seizures often can be identified. Common triggers for seizures include:
- Heavy intake of alcohol
- Drug use, including ecstasy and cocaine
- Missed medication doses
- Insufficient sleep
- Flashing or flickering lights
- Sensitivity to certain foods
- Some off the shelf medications, including diphenhydramine
How Are Seizures Treated with CBD Oil?
CBD has the most powerful anti-convulsive properties of all the cannabinoids. Scientists have found that CBD has four main ways that it works as an antiepileptic:
CBD reduces the degradation of the endocannabinoids that the body produces. This assists the endocannabinoid system in maintaining the natural equilibrium in the body.
Reduces Neuron Excitability
CBD regulates the flow of ions in the body, including potassium and calcium. It mimics the modulating properties of endocannabinoids.
Suppresses Glutamate Activity
Glutamate excites the neurons. CBD suppresses the glutamate activity in the brain.
CBD has potent anti-inflammatory properties. CBD reduces neuroinflammation, which is a contributory factor to the severity of seizures.
Seizures and Safety Precautions
People with epilepsy can experience seizures at any time. The best way to avoid seizures is to avoid known triggers and take medication as prescribed. Many people have also found that CBD oil for seizures can greatly reduce the occurrence of seizures. Even so, precautions should still be taken to avoid injury in the event of a seizure. Here are some simple safety precautions for people with epilepsy:
- Use plastic cups, glasses, etc., to avoid cuts
- Take showers rather than baths
- Avoid water-related activities, such as swimming or boating, unless accompanied
- Be extra careful when cooking, or have someone present
- Only use motorized tools that have automatic shut-off switches
- Keep doors unlocked when alone
- Be wary of heated tools, like heated hair straighteners
- Be aware of surroundings and potential dangers
- Ensure that people are aware of the possibility that seizures may occur
The most important safety precaution a person with epilepsy can take is to apply common sense. The first question to ask before undertaking any task is; what would happen if I had a seizure while I’m doing this?
Fortunately, seizures can be managed with medication. Complementary treatments, like CBD oil for seizures, can also help. However, sporadic seizures may still occur. If adequate safety precautions are taken, though, injuries can be avoided.
Research & Studies - CBD For Seizures & Epilepsy
Below is a compiled list of scientific research and studies on Cannabidiol (CBD) and it’s potential use for treating Seizures & Epilepsy.
- Cannabis, cannabidiol, and epilepsy–from receptors to clinical response.
- Report of a parent survey of cannabidiol-enriched cannabis use in pediatric treatment-resistant epilepsy.
- Charlotte’s Web and Zaki’s Journey (Video)
- Nonpsychotropic 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
- Endocannabinoid system protects against cryptogenic seizures.
- Chronic administration of cannabidiol to healthy volunteers and epileptic patients.
- Seizing an opportunity for the endocannabinoid system.
- Cannabidiol: promise and pitfalls.
- Cannabidivarin (CBDV) suppresses pentylenetetrazole (PTZ)-induced increases in epilepsy-related gene expression
- The current status of artisanal cannabis for the treatment of epilepsy in the United States.
- Efficacy of artisanal preparations of cannabidiol for the treatment of epilepsy: Practical experiences in a tertiary medical center.
- Cannabidiol exerts anti-convulsant effects in animal models of temporal lobe and partial seizures.
- Cannabidiol–antiepileptic drug comparisons and interactions in experimentally induced seizures in rats.
- Cannabidiol displays antiepileptiform and antiseizure properties in vitro and in vivo.
- The cannabinoids as potential antiepileptics.
- Hypnotic and antiepileptic effects of cannabidiol.
- Cannabidiol Post-Treatment Alleviates Rat Epileptic-Related Behaviors and Activates Hippocampal Cell Autophagy Pathway Along with Antioxidant Defense in Chronic Phase of Pilocarpine-Induced Seizure
- Therapeutic effects of cannabinoids in animal models of seizures, epilepsy, epileptogenesis, and epilepsy-related neuroprotection.
- Pharmacology of cannabinoids in the treatment of epilepsy.
- Protective Effects of Cannabidiol against Seizures and Neuronal Death in a Rat Model of Mesial Temporal Lobe Epilepsy.
- Report from a Survey of Parents Regarding the Use of Cannabidiol (Medicinal cannabis) in Mexican Children with Refractory Epilepsy.
- Cannabidiol Treatment for Refractory Seizures in Sturge-Weber Syndrome.