CBD Shows Promise for Treating Seizures

With the 2018 Farm Bill ready to be signed into law, 2019 holds possibility for being the year that CBD research is kicked into high gear.

Limited studies have been conducted to look at the effectiveness of CBD for alleviating various conditions. Much of the support for CBD comes from anecdotal sources, individuals who report that taking CBD provides relief from a wide range of conditions.

One condition that has received attention from both consumers and medical professionals in its relation to CBD is epilepsy.

Parents and Physicians Excited by CBD

One of the most well-known cases connecting CBD and epilepsy is that of Charlotte Figi, who was diagnosed with a severe form of epilepsy at age 2. By the time she turned 5, Charlotte was experiencing around 300 seizures a week. That averages out to one seizure every 15 minutes. Some seizures would last nearly 4 hours.

After changing her treatment to a high-CBD extract, Charlotte went from having 300 seizures a week to just 4 per month.

Charlotte certainly isn’t the only child suffering from severe, debilitating seizures. Close to 30% of new cases of epilepsy diagnosed annually occur in children. When Charlotte’s story received widespread attention, families with similar situations quickly began turning to CBD to support their children, for whom traditional epilepsy treatments weren’t working.

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Tinctures are one of the most popular ways to consume CBD.

Physicians see the possibilities of CBD as well. In 2015, Texas passed the Texas Compassionate Use Act. This allowed registered doctors to prescribe CBD oil low in THC to patients diagnosed with severe epilepsy. Epilepsy sufferers often must try multiple medications before finding a treatment that works for them. Unfortunately, 1/3 of epilepsy patients don’t respond to the first or second treatment they’re prescribed. When that occurs, there is less than a 1% chance that a third medicine will work. With such poor odds, the success stories make CBD an alluring promise.

CBD & Seizures: The Science

In many cases, the exact cause of a patient’s epilepsy cannot be determined. However, it typically presents itself through frequent seizures. A seizure happens when electrical impulses in the brain exceed normal levels. These impulses move throughout the brain and into the muscles, causing involuntary convulsions.

graphic of body with locations of CB receptors

Several cannabinoid receptors are located in the brain.

CBD works to bring the body back to a state of homeostasis, or balance, by interacting with cannabinoid receptors that are naturally occurring in our bodies. A significant number of these receptors exist in the brain. While further research is crucial, CBD’s connection to the brain and the growing number of anecdotal reports of individuals whose seizures decreased in frequency when using CBD show potential that CBD could be a viable long-term solution for epilepsy patients.

A study published in May 2018 examined the effectiveness of CBD for treating seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy. In the study, 225 patients with the condition were split into three groups, receiving 20 mg CBD, 10 mg CBD, or a placebo. At the end of the study, the 20 mg group saw a 41.9% reduction in seizures, and the 10 mg group saw a 37.2% reduction.

As of this posting, the FDA has approved just one CBD drug: Epidiolex, used to control seizures associated with severe forms of epilepsy. With the CBD market booming and the increased production of industrial hemp imminent, there’s a good chance that further research into the use of CBD as an epilepsy treatment, and the development of more CBD medications, will occur.

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