CBD (cannabidiol) is an active ingredient derived from the cannabis plant. It’s known to manage chronic pain and reduce symptoms of anxiety.
But what about CBD’s efficacy in epilepsy treatment?
The short answer:
Plus, we’ll answer some related FAQs.
- CBD for Epilepsy: Can it Help?
- CBD for Other Forms of Epilepsy
- Can Over-the-Counter CBD Products Help with Epilepsy?
- CBD for Epilepsy: How Does it Work?
- Does Medicinal Cannabis Help with Epilepsy?
- 6 FAQs About CBD for Epilepsy
Did you know about 600,000 people in the UK live with epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a neurological condition that leads to abnormal brain activity, causing seizures.
Research regarding CBD as a treatment of epilepsy is still ongoing.
This ushered in the only pharmaceutical grade CBD oil for epilepsy syndromes — Epidiolex (or Epidyolex).
Manufactured by GW Pharmaceuticals and approved by the US Food and Drug Association (FDA), Epidiolex contains pharmaceutical-grade, purified CBD.
It’s primarily used for forms of treatment resistant epilepsy (aka refractory or intractable epilepsy), such as:
Dravet syndrome is a rare form of refractory epilepsy that causes treatment-resistant seizures.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) prescribes both Epidiolex and clobazam (another anti seizure medication) for those with Dravet Syndrome.
This combination is for those whose convulsive seizures aren’t effectively controlled after trying two or more traditional epilepsy medicines.
What science says:
A controlled trial found patients part of the CBD group (Epidiolex) experienced a notable drop in epileptic seizure frequency (39% decrease) — compared with those who took placebos (17% decrease).
|Interesting Fact: Did you know Charlotte Figi, who suffered from Dravet Syndrome, inspired the CBD movement?
Her mother used cannabidiol as a treatment for Charlotte Figi’s epilepsy.
Lennox Gastaut Syndrome (LGS) is a severe form of refractory epilepsy that causes numerous types of seizures. LGS is a form of childhood epilepsy that generally begins between ages 3-5.
NICE recommends Epidiolex and clobazam for those with Lennox Gastaut syndrome.
This combination is for people whose drop seizures aren’t adequately controlled after trying 2 or more epilepsy medicines.
P.S. Drop seizures cause a lack of muscle strength — so a person can end up dropping on the ground.
What science says:
One study found half of the patients who took Epidiolex reported a drop in seizure severity by 44%. The other half that took placebos reported a seizure reduction of 22%.
3. Tuberous Sclerosis Complex
Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC) is a rare disease that occurs in about 1 in 6,000 people.
It’s a genetic condition that results in the growth of noncancerous tumours in different parts of the body. If tumours are present in the brain, this could lead to an epileptic seizure.
Currently, only patients from Scotland and Wales who suffer from TSC can get Epidiolex.
A decision regarding Epidiolex for TSC treatment for the rest of the UK is expected in November 2022.
What science says:
A clinical trial found the average improvement in the number of seizures experienced was 48% fewer for the CBD group on Epidiolex and 24% for the placebo group.
You might be wondering…Can CBD be used for other forms of epilepsy?
Further research is needed regarding the efficacy of CBD treatment for other forms of epilepsy, like focal epilepsy seizure type.
Some studies regarding the effect of CBD have found favourable results:
- Research indicates CBD may enhance the effect of clobazam.
- Some evidence shows CBD may increase the effect of other forms of anti seizure medication.
What about Epidiolex?
Monthly baseline seizures were 59.4 (on average). After 12 weeks, the seizure reduction dropped to 22.5 seizures per month.
CBD as a treatment option (Epidiolex) is generally used for treatment-resistant epilepsy. But it could eventually be used for managing other types of epilepsy.
Commercially sold CBD products (in-store and online) aren’t licensed as medicines in the UK.
Artisanal CBD products are only sold as wellness supplements — rather than medication for serious medical conditions like epilepsy.
Here’s the deal:
Unlike Epidiolex, most CBD products on the market are sought out as treatment options to ease symptoms of less severe health issues like anxiety.
In a 2021 study, researchers found open-label CBD-rich treatments can prove to ease:
- Acute and chronic pain
- Symptoms of depression
P.S. In open-label treatment, both the researchers and patients know what drug would be used.
In a 2020 study, researchers found participants using artisanal CBD products experienced 13% fewer side effects related to anti-seizure medications.
The jury is still out on artisanal CBD products for epilepsy, but the far-reaching benefits of CBD are undeniable.
|Disclaimer: Seek medical advice if you want to take over-the-counter CBD products for serious medical conditions like epilepsy.
It’s also important to consider potential drug interactions if you’re on other medications.
Okay, CBD shows some promise for epilepsy treatment.
But how does CBD interact with the body to reduce seizures?
CBD interacts with your endocannabinoid system (a system of receptors and neurotransmitters throughout your body).
This system helps regulate functions like:
- Immune system response
CBD interacts with these receptors, regulating the body’s responses to epilepsy.
Studies on dog seizures indicate CBD interacts with the GPR55 and TRPV1 — receptors that control anti-seizure effects.
Medical cannabis (aka medical marijuana) covers any sort of cannabis-based medicine derived from the cannabis plant.
In the UK, the British Paediatric Neurology Association advises highly purified or pure CBD for medical cannabis use, like Epidiolex.
The two primary cannabinoids found in medicinal cannabis are CBD and THC.
However, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is an intoxicating cannabinoid that can cause adverse effects like memory loss and altered perception. Its medical use for seizure control is still unclear.
Currently, NICE does not recommend prescribing THC-based medicine for drug-resistant epilepsy and other forms of epilepsy.
What science says:
So far, there are a few studies on using THC to treat epilepsy:
- In animal studies where THC and CBD were compared, CBD showed a better anticonvulsant profile.
- A 2021 study tested the viability of whole-plant medicinal cannabis to treat unmanageable epilepsies. Of the 10 participants, seizure frequency dropped by 86%.
This encouraged foundations like Epilepsy Action, Project CBD, and the Epilepsy Foundation to call for more research on CBD and THC products.
This could get the ball rolling on long-term studies on the efficacy of medical marijuana in treating epilepsy.
|Important: For an OTC CBD product to be legally sold in the UK, it must be 100% THC-free.|
Some common questions about CBD for epilepsy include:
1. What Are the Potential Side Effects of Using CBD for Epilepsy?
CBD use in very high doses (>100mg/day) can have an adverse effect.
Some side effects include:
- Decreased appetite
2. Can CBD Interfere with Other Medications Taken for Seizures?
CBD may interact with other antiepileptic drugs taken for seizure control, resulting in adverse side effects. More research is needed to conclude this.
Some antiepileptic drugs that CBD may interact with:
- Valproic acid
3. Can People with Other Forms of Epilepsy Receive a Prescription for Epidiolex?
More research is needed into CBD treatment for other forms of epilepsies.
|Disclaimer: If you have a seizure disorder, speak to a neurologist to discuss alternative forms of treatment.|
4. Can I Develop a Tolerance for CBD Products?
Over time, you may develop tolerance to a CBD product.
According to the American Epilepsy Society, almost a quarter of patients develop a tolerance to CBD.
CBD may become less effective over time, and you might have to adjust your dose to manage seizures effectively.
5. What are the Common Types of Epilepsy?
There are four types of epilepsy:
- Generalized Epilepsy: Seizures begin on both sides of the brain.
- Focal Epilepsy: Seizures develop on a specific side of the brain.
- Combined Generalized and focal Epilepsy: This includes seizures from both generalized and focal epilepsy.
- Unknown Epilepsy: This occurs when a doctor diagnoses someone with epilepsy but doesn’t know if the seizures are focal or generalized.
Traditional epilepsy treatment options include:
- Antiepileptic drugs (AEDs)
- Surgery to remove part of the brain causing seizures
- An operation to put a tiny electrical device inside the body to manage seizure severity
CBD for Other Aspects of Your Health & Wellness
Highly purified CBD products, like Epidiolex, may help people who suffer treatment resistant epilepsy.
However, artisanal CBD products aren’t suitable for treating epilepsy.
Instead, you could use OTC CBD products for improved sleep, reduced stress and anxiety, pain management, etc.
Want to try high-quality artisanal CBD products?
Explore Greenbox’s impressive range of lab-tested, THC-free CBD products. From CBD oil to CBD gummies, there’s something for everyone.