The Medical Benefits of Using Cannabis To Treat Seizures and Epilepsy
Posted by Marijuana Doctors on 11/03/2016 in Medical Marijuana Research
Epileptic seizures have long stumped physicians. While they are caused by some type of “short-circuit” within the brain, or electrical storm if you will, that is the only common factor. Not only do seizures show no preference for age, gender or race but they are also caused by a wide variety of things. Seizures can occur alone or as a symptom of another disorder. This variety makes it very difficult to treat seizures. Currently, the most common treatments involve anti-epileptic drugs and treatments that involve stimulating certain areas of the brain in one form or another with electrical currents. Still, many types of seizures remain untreatable. Current research into the use of medical marijuana, specifically strains high in the cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD), are providing a margin of hope for those who have proven to be treatment resistant.
Difficulty in Researching
While the initial research has been very positive, it has been difficult for researchers to do any large-scale studies due to the federal restrictions on cannabis. Because cannabis is currently a schedule 1 controlled substance, scientists find it difficult to obtain permission to perform the kind of studies that would show the believed large-scale benefits to individuals experiencing treatment-resistant seizures. It is estimated that up to thirty percent of all seizure patients find no relief from currently available treatments. It is this group that is most in need of the medical benefits from CBD cannabis oil treatment.
A small study was done on a group of 19 children suffering from uncontrollable seizures and the results were extraordinary. A full eighty-four percent of the parents stated their children’s seizures were greatly reduced. Two of the participants experienced a complete cessation of seizures and eight reported an eighty percent reduction in the frequency of the seizures. An additional six participants had anywhere from twenty-five to sixty percent success. Side effects were rare but did include drowsiness and fatigue. This was not considered to be severe enough to merit stopping the study. Those conducting the research, however, feel that it is necessary for researchers to study the full effects of the use of the cannabis on children.
For parents with children suffering uncontrollable seizures, however, the benefits outweigh the uncertain long-term effects, believing CBD cannabis therapy may be the only hope their child has at a normal life.
In a larger study, one of the largest so far, a group of 192 seizure patients was given doses of an extract of 99 percent CBD oil and followed for a period of twelve weeks. Unfortunately, the results of this study are under some scrutiny because the patients were all aware of the CBD oil so there was no control group, and the CBD oil was used in addition to whatever treatment the patients were also currently using. It does, however, give a general indication of what the outcome of use can achieve. An average of 36.5 percent showed a reduction in seizures and two percent of the participants became seizure-free. The researchers hope they can repeat the study in the future with greater accuracy by addressing the shortcomings of this one. Overall, however, the results were positive and indicate this may be the missing element seizure patients have needed.
More recently, a nationwide cannabis peer reviewed study got under way, in efforts to help collect the data necessary to show that marijuana has medical benefit, so as to force it’s federal rescheduling to allow researchers access to study it’s medicinal benefits in-depth. Crowd sourced from patients nationwide, the study also aims to provide patients worldwide the opportunity to learn about how medical marijuana benefits others with symptoms similar to their own. If you are a patient suffering seizures or are the parent of a child suffering seizures, and would like to participate in this ground-breaking study on behalf of patients suffering from uncontrollable seizures worldwide, register on MarijuanaDoctors.com (MD) to sign up for free access to the SYMPTOM TRACKER — available on the MD mobile app, mobile site and website online — and be a part of the data that will define the medicine of marijuana.
The study is open-ended and the data is being collected in real-time to help determine how marijuana medically benefits patients suffering seizure disorders, like epilepsy. Initial findings from the study reveal that 40.9% percent of patients suffering seizures are in Pennsylvania, and 22.7 percent of patients using the tracker are in California. Among the patients using marijuana to treat seizures 16.67 percent are between the ages of 20 and 29; additionally the data shows that 18.8 percent of patients are taking Dilantin in addition to their medical marijuana therapy, while 12.5 percent are taking Affinitor, Banzel, Gabitril, and Tegretol each respectively.
Because the study is crowd sourced, the more patients sign up and use the tracker, the more data will be defined to show how seizures, and other symptoms, benefit from the therapeutic use of cannabis.
Why it Works
Seizures originate in the brain. Cannabinoids such as CBD connect to cannabinoid receptors that occur naturally within the brain. Because the electrical impulses of the brain are carried by the neurotransmitters resembling CBD, researchers believe CBD may work to correct inefficiencies in the naturally-occurring endocannabinoids within the brains of seizure patients. Depending upon the need, cannabinoids can either stimulate the production of a needed neurotransmitter thereby improving the transfer of the internal message, or completely block over-production.
In order to fully understand how cannabis can help to effectively control uncontrollable seizures, scientists are fighting to have the federal restrictions lifted. For the sake patients suffering seizure disorders like epilepsy, we can only hope the future allows for the in-depth study of marijuana’s therapeutic benefits. If you are a patient using marijuana as a medicine and would like to participate in the cannabis peer review study, visit MarijuanaDoctors.com to register for free access to the Symptom Tracker today.