If you or a loved one experiences epilepsy or a seizure disorder, chances are you’ve heard about CBD and its therapeutic potential. For those living with seizure disorders, CBD can mean new hope for their health and their future. But what exactly is CBD? Does it really work?
What Is CBD?
The cannabis plant contains chemicals unique to the plant, called cannabinoids. The two major cannabinoids are:
- Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which makes a person feel high or intoxicated
- Cannabidiol (CBD), which has no psychoactive effects but can provide a number of therapeutic benefits.
The FDA recently approved the use of a CBD-based oral treatment for seizures called EPIDIOLEX® for people who have two specific epilepsy syndromes — Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. Epidiolex differs slightly from CBD available over the counter, as it is in a highly purified form, with higher doses than what is typically recommended for over-the-counter options.
If you don’t have Lennox-Gastaut or Dravet syndrome but still suffer from seizures, there are plenty of CBD options available over the counter that may help relieve symptoms.
Does CBD Help Seizures?
One of the reasons CBD rose to popularity is because of its effectiveness in treating seizures, particularly in children and adolescents. There are countless news stories that show anecdotal evidence of children who suffered from seizures but found relief through the use of CBD tinctures and oils. These stories are also backed up by research.
In recent years, many research studies have shown the benefit of using CBD in treating specific groups of people who haven’t responded well to traditional therapies and medications for seizure prevention and control.
One study found that children with a seizure disorder who took an almost-pure form of CBD oil experienced a reduction in seizures by 50 percent. Another study found a significant reduction in seizures for both children and adults with a rare form of epilepsy.
Does CBD Have Side Effects?
Generally speaking, no. Unlike the cannabis plant’s other well-known compound, THC, CBD does not get users high. It’s also non-addictive and has few to no side effects, making it an appealing option for children who experience seizures.
Will CBD Replace My Seizure Medications?
If you are currently taking medication to control seizures, speak to your medical provider before making any decisions about using CBD.
While there are certainly examples of individuals who were able to wean off or completely quit taking certain medications while taking CBD under medical supervision, it is not true for every person, and these decisions should be made under the guidance and supervision of your doctor.
CBD — though potentially beneficial — is not a “one size fits all” solution, so you may need to experiment with different modes of delivery and dosages before finding what works for you.
Taking CBD for Epilepsy and Seizure Disorders
It’s important to understand that CBD should be used regularly in order to maximize its effectiveness. It may take some time before you see results, so be sure to stick with your regimen; don’t quit taking it if you don’t initially see or feel a difference. Think of your CBD as you would a daily vitamin — it’s important to establish a baseline concentration in your system and keep up with it daily in order to see results.
In order to manage seizure disorders, consider taking full-spectrum CBD in oil, tincture or capsule form. Though CBD is also available in edibles, such as candies and chocolate, it is best to start with an oil or tincture. Your goal is to find the lowest effective dose, so start small and work your way up until you find an amount that is effective for you.
While CBD is used widely by adults for various health concerns, the best evidence for its effectiveness in treating seizures comes from studies on children with specific types of epilepsy. CBD is completely non-habit forming and generally has no side effects, so parents can feel comfortable giving it to their children for seizures.
Speak to your healthcare provider before adding CBD to your therapeutic options for seizures.