Epilepsy, which affects more than 50 million people across the globe, is a complicated neurological disorder with few treatment options. That is why many people with epilepsy are currently researching the effects of CBD on their condition, because even a slight effect is better than nothing.
CBD is often thought to be a cure-all, since it can ease muscle pain and stress, promotes better sleep, and even reduce nausea caused by chemotherapy. That said, you want to make sure you are purchasing quality CBD to get these benefits; and if you plan on using it for epilepsy, you are going to want pharmaceutical CBD and nothing else.
CBD Oil and Epilepsy: How It Works
As complex as epilepsy is, it is also extremely challenging to treat. Those who are afflicted with epilepsy are often on multiple medications—anticonvulsants and antispasmodics. However, anticonvulsants come with an array of debilitating side effects, such as nausea, headaches, slurred speech, liver failure, depression, and much more. When quality of life is impacted, it makes the condition difficult. Moreover, nearly 30 percent of people with epilepsy have no reaction to traditional treatments. This means that they get zero relief from anticonvulsant medication.
So what do these people do?
Up to now, there was not much individuals with epilepsy could do, but now there is hope that CBD can help. CBD oil has been found by multiple studies to produce little to no side effects and to help diminish the effects of epilepsy. This happens through CBD’s interaction with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which affects homeostasis.
CBD targets the CB1 and CB2 receptors within the central nervous system and brain. The receptors are used by neurotransmitters; when you use CBD, those neurotransmitters are indirectly impacted, and can use reduce inflammation and other triggers of epilepsy. While more research is needed to understand just how this mechanism works, for right now, scientists know that CBD oil does have a positive effect on epilepsy symptoms.
Benefits of CBD Oil For Epilepsy
Three pivotal pieces of research have looked into the benefits of CBD on Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, two severe types of epilepsy. In every study, the use of CBD oil limited the number of seizures the participants experienced. While it is unclear whether CBD directly mitigated the seizures or it if worked synergistically with epilepsy medication, the positive effect was present across the board.
Other ways CBD oil may help with epilepsy include:
- Reducing inflammation. The most popular for using CBD is to reduce inflammation. There are glycine receptors within the central nervous system that CBD interacts with; when activated, the receptors inhibit pain sensations. CBD also disrupts cytokine production, limiting inflammation, and stops the re-uptake of adenosine, which also reduces inflammatory responses in the body.
- Decreasing anxiety. Many people suffering from epilepsy also have anxiety. CBD can assist with decreasing anxiety by working like a serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (SSRI) by activating 5-HT1A receptors to raise serotonin levels.
Studies on Epilepsy and CBD Oil: Why One Grade of CBD is Better
To date, there has only been one CBD product that has received approval from government agencies, such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help treat epilepsy. The CBD drug, called Epidiolex, has been made for rare and hard to treat forms of epilepsy—Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndromes. This also means that only Epidiolex can be prescribed to help with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome while all others that haven’t been approved are considered illegal.
This is important. It means that not every CBD product on the shelf is going to help you deal with painful medical conditions like epilepsy. The CBD industry is hardly regulated, and there are many unscrupulous producers out there who sell knockoffs at a reduced price.
Artisanal CBD vs. Pharmaceutical CBD
One recent study has drawn the line in the sand between artisanal (not regulated) and pharmaceutical (regulated) CBD. The research was led by Dr. Nathan T. Cohen of the Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC. The group took adolescents with an average age of 10 and tested the effectiveness of various forms of CBD oil on them. 32 percent of the participants had Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. 6 percent had Dravet syndrome.
22 participants were given pharmaceutical-grade cannabidiol while another 9 took an artisanal blend. The researchers then recorded the doses, amount of CBD in the blood, and frequency of seizures, as well as the side effects experienced. During the study, artisanal CBD was at an average of 31 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL), while pharmaceutical CBD leveled out at 124 ng/mL of blood. Interestingly, the 9 participants who took artisanal CBD saw a 70 percent increase in seizures, while those given medical-grade CBD experienced a 39 percent drop.
Unfortunately, 11 of the children and teenagers taking pharmaceutical CBD had side effects and needed to stop taking the CBD.
What do these results tell us?
First, because a lot of artisanal CBD on the market today has not been tested, it can contain very little CBD. Some brands claim to sell CBD, but they are selling formulas that contain next to nothing. Others give an amount but provide no third-party lab test to prove it. In 2017, a study was published in JAMA that stated around 70 percent of artisanal CBD products did not contain the amount of CBD listed on the packaging, so do your research.
Another study from 2018 published in Forensic Science International stated that some CBD vape liquids carry synthetic cannabinoids, such as 5F-ADB, a Schedule-1 controlled substance, and dextromethorphan, which is often abused.
This means that, if you are trying to treat epilepsy with CBD, you need to purchase quality-assured CBD products from a reputable brand. Furthermore, you need to discuss treating yourself with CBD with a medical professional. Visit your GP and talk about CBD, learn how it may affect your condition and interact with your current medications. Do not purchase cheap CBD brands, because it could come back to hurt you.
Do not purchase cheap CBD brands, because it could come back to hurt you. This holds true for regular CBD use and if you want to use it for your epilepsy. Conventional treatments for epilepsy do not always work, but pharmaceutical CBD may be able to help with your symptoms.
Interested in high quality CBD products to help with nausea, anxiety, and pain? Check out the Farmula’s full line of CBD oils and more. We have something for everyone.
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