The use of cannabis to treat epilepsy and other neurological conditions has been studied for a number of years. It has been hotly debated too.
On June 25, 2018, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approved EPIDIOLEX ® (cannabidiol, CBD) oral solution for the treatment of seizures associated with two epilepsy syndromes – Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome – in people two years of age or older. Epidiolex represents a new medication option for children with these types of epilepsy. It is also the first ever FDA approved medication to treat seizures in Dravet syndrome.
What does FDA approval of Epidiolex (CBD oral solution) mean?
The FDA approval and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) scheduling of Epidiolex brings to market the first plant-based drug derived from the cannabis plant in the U.S.
What is medical cannabis?
Cannabis is known by many names – the most common is marijuana. Cannabis is the Latin name used most often by botanists and pharmaceutical companies. The word marijuana usually refers to the leaves and female flowers of the cannabis plant. Medical cannabis is whole plant marijuana or chemicals in the plant used for medical purposes.
Cannabinoids are substances in cannabis that act on cells in the body (called cannabinoid receptors) to cause some effect. Two major ingredients include
- Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which causes the psychoactive effects of “getting high”
- Cannabidiol, or CBD, which does not cause psychoactive effects but has shown some positive effects on certain body systems. This is the part that has been effective in reducing seizures in some people with epilepsy.
Does cannabis help seizures?
Early evidence from laboratory studies, anecdotal reports, and small clinical studies over a number of years suggest that cannabidiol (CBD) could potentially help control seizures. Research on CBD has been hard to do and taken time due to federal regulations and limited access to cannabidiol. There are also many financial and time constraints. In recent years, a number of studies have shown the benefit of specific plant-based CBD product in treating specific groups of people with epilepsy who have not responded to traditional therapies.
What do I need to know about hemp?
Hemp is a variety of Cannabis Sativa L. plant historically grown for fibrous materials found in its stalks and seeds. It has been used to make items such as clothing fiber, upholstery, and other household items.
Hemp traditionally contains lower concentrations of THC and higher levels of CBD. Cannabinoids extracted from hemp plants, including CBD, have until recently been classified as marijuana and considered Schedule I substances. Per the DEA, Schedule I substances currently have no accepted medical use and have a high potential for abuse. A federal law* enacted in December 2018, however, reclassifies hemp and hemp-derived CBD as an agricultural commodity and exempts it from the list of Schedule I Drugs.
Despite this change in the classification of hemp and hemp-derived CBD, the only CBD product that has been rigorously studied and approved to be used as a medical therapy for epilepsy is the drug Epidiolex. While more CBD products may come to market in the coming months, it is important to understand that not every CBD product is the same quality or uniform from batch to batch. Any drug or supplement that is being considered for use as a medical treatment should first be discussed with your doctor. The potential for benefit as well as the interaction with other seizure medications and possible side effects require careful review with your doctor.
*The Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (H.R. 2) legalizes hemp and hemp-derived CBD. The bill changes the definition of hemp to encompass any plant or product derived from the plant that contain less than 0.3% THC by dry weight and classifies them as exempt from the controlled substance restrictions applied to marijuana. The law further amends the Controlled Substances Act to exempt hemp from Schedule I drugs.
What do I need to know about hemp?
Epidiolex (Cannabidiol, CBD)
Studies in the U.S. of Epidiolex (a plant-based CBD formulation) have been ongoing for a number of years. Data from these studies has helped provide evidence that led to the FDA approval of this product on June 25, 2018.
Epidiolex is a purified (> 98% oil-based) CBD extract from the cannabis plant. It is produced by Greenwich Biosciences (the U.S. based company of GW Pharmaceuticals) to give known and consistent amounts in each dose.
Researchers studied this medicine in controlled clinical trials. These studies used a control group with some people taking a placebo while others were given CBD at different doses. Researchers did not know who was getting the placebo and who was getting CBD. These tpyes of studies are called “gold standard” studies.
A summary of the Epidiolex clinical trials is found below:
- In controlled and uncontrolled trials in people with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) and Dravet syndrome, 689 people were treated with Epidiolex (CBD), including 533 people treated for more than 6 months and 391 people treated for more than 1 year.
- In an expanded access program and other compassionate use programs, 161 people with Dravet syndrome and LGS were treated with Epidiolex, including 109 people treated for more than 6 months.
- All study participants were taking other seizure medications.
- In controlled trials, the rate of stopping the medicine due to any side effect was small and happened most in people taking the higher dose of Epidiolex.
- The most frequent cause of stopping treatment with Epidiolex was a change in liver function.
- Sleepiness, sedation, and lethargy led to stopping Epidiolex in 3% of people taking the higher dose.
- The most common side effects were sleepiness, decreased appetite, diarrhea, change in liver function, fatigue, malaise, asthenia (weakness or lack of energy), rash, insomnia, sleep disorder, poor quality sleep, and infections.
Results from Gold Standard Studies of Epidiolex (CBD)
NEJM May 2018
Summarized below are the results from a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in May 2018.
13 Best CBD Oils for Seizures
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If you or someone you know has epilepsy, it’s likely that you have been looking for a natural way to control seizures. In this article, we will explore some of the best CBD oils available right now for treating epilepsy and seizure disorders.
CBD (cannabidiol) is one of many chemical compounds found in cannabis plants. It does not produce any psychoactive effects so it can be safely used by children, adults, and pets without fear of getting high or experiencing side effects.
These benefits aside, there are also numerous studies that show that CBD oil may help with anxiety and depression as well as chronic pain relief without the side effects associated with prescription medications like opioids.
As such, CBD oil is quickly becoming an ideal supplement for those who want to live a healthier and happier life.
What is CBD?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the many active compounds found in cannabis plants. Although it is not psychoactive like THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD has valuable health benefits that have recently attracted the attention of medical professionals around the world for treating conditions that were once deemed untreatable.
The reason why CBD is non-intoxicating is because it does not affect the same pathways as THC. This makes it a much better option for those who are looking to achieve therapeutic benefits without experiencing mind-altering effects that may interfere with their day-to-day tasks.
While research has not yet fully determined all of the health benefits of CBD, studies have shown that this compound is extremely safe, even at high dosages. Even so, most people who are looking for the benefits of CBD oil may not be aware of the best ways to use it for maximum therapeutic benefits.
Does CBD Oil Work for Seizures?
For those who are not aware, there are actually several types of seizures, all of which can be treated using CBD oil. The most well-known form is epilepsy, which occurs in the brain.
Based on some studies, we’ve learned that CBD does not act on the same pathways as THC, it is actually one of the most ideal options for treating seizures. CBD helps calm electrical and chemical activity in the brain to promote healthy neurological development, which helps prevent seizure attacks.
Of course, you should always talk to your doctor before adding CBD to your regimen. But whether you are looking for a safe alternative option or need relief from epilepsy, CBD oil has been found to be extremely effective as a treatment option with little to no side effects.
Are There Side Effects of CBD Oils?
CBD is no longer viewed as a dangerous and addictive drug like it once was many years ago. Today’s CBD products are non-intoxicating and comprised of natural ingredients that actually work with your endocannabinoid system instead of against it.
Even so, some people who are new to CBD oil may experience mild side effects like fatigue, dry mouth, and changes in appetite. If you notice any of these side effects when using CBD for seizures, it is best to only use the recommended dosage on your product’s packaging so you can adjust accordingly.
Today we’re sharing more about CBD oils for seizures to help you find maximum relief with a more natural product.