CBD and epilepsy

CBD and epilepsy

Last updated: 18.02.2021

CBD is increasingly being used as a medication in the treatment of epilepsy. In fact, the legalisation of medical cannabis in the UK revolves primarily around heartbreaking cases of children suffering from epilepsy.

It makes sense, then, that the scientific and medical community are continuing to research the potential relief provided by cannabidiol (CBD) for people suffering from epilepsy, as well as cats and dogs.

In fact, a key epilepsy drug called Epidiolex (sometimes called Epidyolex) is already used to alleviate symptoms of various forms of epilepsy. For example Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. This pure CBD treatment is available via pediatric care for children from as young as one year old.

Interestingly, Epidiolex is the only FDA (US food and drug administration) approved CBD drug available.

CBD oil is potentially an alternative treatment option to medicinal cannabis, which requires a prescription. CBD is legal and considered safe by the WHO (World Health Organisation)

This certainly isn't to say that CBD is a silver bullet that cures epilepsy and there is still more research needed, but on this page we explore some of the intricacies.

CBD and epilepsy

CBD and epilepsy... In a nutshell

  • Studies show that medical cannabis and CBD are an effective treatment for epilepsy and could relieve and reduce seizures and falls.
  • However, precisely how CBD works in relation to epilepsy is not fully understood
  • Some studies have shown significant improvements in CBD patients
  • Side effects, if they occur at all, are rather weak, but can include diarrhea, drowsiness, dry mouth (especially with CBD oil)

CBD overview - a quick reminder

CBD is the shorthand name given to cannabidiol, one of the main active ingredients in the cannabis plant.

Due to the range of ways that CBD can act with the human body, many medical scientists anticipate that the CBD could support the treatment of various diseases.

In contrast to the much better known THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD is not a psychoactive substance, so it doesn't make you high. Further, according to a WHO report, CBD poses no health risk and the substance does not lead to addiction.

There's a lot of science behind CBD but as a brief intro CBD interacts with what is called the endocannabinoid system, which is distributed all over the body and has an influence on our nervous system. We explain in much more detail the science behind how CBD works on the body and the endocannabinoid system on other pages so feel free to take a look.

Epilepsy - in brief

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder. There are 600,000 people with epilepsy living in the UK. That’s a similar figure to people living with autism. And four times higher than those living with Parkinsons. Every day, 87 people are diagnosed and one in every four people newly diagnosed with epilepsy is over the age of 65. One in every 220 children will have a diagnosis of epilepsy. CBD is used in pediatric epilepsy in children as young as 1 year old.

Chances are, if you are here reading this page then you already know what epilepsy is and you'd like to understand more about how CBD may provide a benefit. As such, we won't go into the full detail of what epilepsy is. However, Epilepsy Action is a great source of information should you want to read more about epilepsy.

Having said that, in order to explain how CBD might help those suffering from epilepsy, we do need to explain a few key characteristics of the disease.

Epilepsy is characterised by seizures, which occur as a result of brief brain dysfunction.

The cause of the disease is partly unknown, but the trigger, in part, could be due to an injury or a disorder (such as brain injuries, brain tumors, strokes or infections).

There are many different types of epilepsy: focal seizures, Rolando epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, dravet syndrome, West syndrome, tonic seizures and drop seizures, to name a few.

The particular symptoms depend on the type and intensity of the disease. They can range from a short absence to cramping and stiffening of the body. After that, the body can also start to twitch uncontrollably. Some patients also lose consciousness during a tonic-clonic seizure. In particularly bad cases, the patient suffers several seizures in succession without fully regaining consciousness. In this case, an emergency doctor should be called immediately.

How is CBD used for epilepsy

Scientists suspect that CBD can alleviate the severity and frequency of epileptic attacks (more on that in a moment). Nevertheless, it is not yet known precisely how CBD works in the human body in the event of epilepsy.

However, theories have been developed on the mode of action. For example, it is believed that CBD affects the hippocampus and can thus help with epilepsy. The hippocampus is an important hub for information in the brain and if this is disturbed, epilepsy can have an effect.

In addition to the individual use of CBD, it is also partially confirmed that a combination of THC and CBD can be useful when administered simultaneously.

This is how the so-called entourage effect is triggered. The entourage effect is explained on our more scientific page explaining the key cannabinoids in cannabis, but basically refers to the combined effect of CBD, THC and other cannabinoids and susbtances being greater than their individual effects (i.e. to borrow a popular phrase - the sum of the whole is greater than its parts).

However, products with a higher THC concentration can only be obtained with a doctor's prescription. What's more, when it comes to over the counter or online ordered CBD products in the UK, they are only legal if they do not contain THC or other controlled substances (of which cannabis is one). Therefore, you should be diligent in reading the product labels.

In any case, the use of CBD may be worth trying in patients in whom other antiepileptic drugs have failed and have therefore not improved.

woman-comforts-child-with-epilepsy

The WHO states that there is no risk associated with CBD, and therefore may be useful in treatment for children with epilepsy

Studies on CBD and epilepsy

While the effects in animals or cell cultures have already been proven very well, the number of studies in human clinical trials is still very low.

This is because cannabis has only really been researched since the 1970s because of its taboo status in society.

For this reason, the historical studies ​​are mostly based on studies on animals or on applications in individual cases. Nevertheless, there are some isolated studies that have been carried out on people.

One such study involved 171 subjects aged 2-55 years old. In this study, the participants received 20mg CBD (more precisely the drug Epidiolex) per kilogram of body weight or placebo in addition to their usual medication.

The researchers noticed a fall in the rate of seizures associated with the group consuming CBD from 71.4 to 31.4 falls per month. The placebo group, however, also saw a reduction in falls per month from 74.7 to 56.3.

Other types of epileptic seizures were also drastically reduced by 41.2% in the CBD patients and 13.7% in the placebo patients.

62% of people treated with CBD also reported minor side effects during the study, such as diarrhea and drowsiness.

In another study, subjects received 200-300 mg CBD daily or a placebo. The condition improved in seven of the eight epileptics who were given CBD.

This suggests that a positive effects of CBD on epilepsy sufferers can be deduced, although there are also studies in which there were no noteworthy results.

Which CBD oil for epilepsy?

For your first experience with CBD, a personal test run with a CBD oil might be best. When buying, you should make sure that you get a high quality product. To benefit from the entourage effect, you should consider using a full spectrum oil.

Generally speaking, most CBD newbies tend to start with a 10% concentration CBD oil.

What about hemp oil? Is it different to CBD oil?

Most hemp oils are only made from the hemp seeds, they do not contain the valuable ingredients of a cannabis oil (such as CBD) and should therefore be avoided in this case.

Hemp oil should be avoided as they do not contain the valuable ingredients of a cannabis oil.

Photo-of-hemp-oil-which-is-to-be-avoided
Hemp oil should be avoided as they do not contain the valuable ingredients of a cannabis oil.

Dosage of CBD in epilepsy

There is no ideal dosage for everyone, people are just too different for that. Every organism can react differently, which is why the best thing to do is try it yourself.

Of course, it can be helpful to talk with other CBD users and ask them about their experiences. Social media forums are a great place for this. CBD Success Stories is a good example. Do exercise some caution here however, for two reasons. 1) Social media platforms will no doubt be full of sellers who may be making agenda led recommendations, and 2) The right dose for someone else may not necessarily be the right dose for you.

In some cases, manufacturers offer dosing recommendations which one could use as a guide. In principle, you should of course start with a lower dose which you can then adjust to suit your needs.

Is CBD oil safe for epilepsy?

There are various studies and reports that have shown that CBD is not a dangerous substance, which has also been confirmed by the World Health Organisation. Nevertheless, there may be slight side effects when ingested.

The 5 most common side effects of CBD

1. Fatigue
2. Drowsiness
3. Diarrhea
4. Nausea
5. Loss of appetite

Possible drug interaction

It's very important to note that you should refrain from taking CBD if you are currently taking other medications that are also broken down in the liver. This drug interaction could significantly affect liver function and even cause liver damage.

This is because here there can be interactions between the drug and CBD, since CBD inhibits the breakdown of, for example, Omeprazole. If this relates to you, a consultation with your healthcare provider.

It is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) that, in some cases (mainly for patients with the epilepsy syndromes dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome), CBD should be taken alongside the epilepsy drug clobazam.

This theory is reinforced in a study from 2019. The findings showed that seizures significantly improved when CBD and clobazam were combined, in comparison to when either treatment was taken alone.

image-of-definition-of-epilepsy-presented-with-marijuana

On another positive note, a further study found that CBD's interaction with clobazam caused the latter's bioavailability to increase. This meant that the dose of clobazam could be reduced, thus reducing some unwanted side effects, such as sleepiness.

In recent years, NICE have been calling for further research on the use of CBD as a treatment for other types of epilepsy - more specifically more severe, treatment-resistant epilepsy.

Is CBD safe for children with epilepsy?

The limited information available to us suggests CBD appears safe for children. There have been reports from parents who have had very good experiences with CBD in their children with epilepsy.

In a survey, 85% of parents (out of 117 participants) indicated that their children had fewer seizures during CBD treatment.

However, 30% also stated that side effects occurred during the treatment. For example, an increased appetite. However, positive side effects were also reported, such as improved sleep and attention.

Despite the fact that CBD is largely classified as safe, the long-term effects on the child's developing brain have not yet been fully researched.

Can CBD be used for dogs with epilepsy?

Like humans, dogs can also suffer from epilepsy. In fact, it is the most common neurological disorder in our canine friends. Epilepsy affects 1 in 130 dogs in the UK alone.

Current treatments for canine epilepsy include Phenobarbital and Potassium Bromide. Both can cause mild sedation.

Some research suggests that a ketogenic diet may be beneficial for dogs - which has also been suggested for humans.

Caring for a dog that suffers with epileptic seizures can be extremely distressing and can leave you feeling helpless. But there is good news! Research shows that CBD could be very effective in the treatment of canine epilepsy.

One study showed that there was a significant decrease in dog's epileptic seizures compared to a placebo group.

Similarly, another study showed found that 89% of dogs who received CBD had a reduction in the frequency of seizures.

And another study reported a significant reduction in seizure frequencies, although this study does list some limitations.

As is common in the world of CBD, while some very encouraging and promising results have been seen, further research is still desperately needed.

We must always be wary of the 'proof' the internet provides us with.. but we love this video of the effects of CBD on a dog that is struggling with a seizure.

Are there reviews of CBD oils for epilepsy?

There are many forums and discussion groups in which people share their experiences with CBD products, which can be useful, as well as customer reviews. There are currently no real tests - apart from studies, of course.

Some users report positive experiences and swear by the effectiveness of CBD. Of course, there are also cases from time to time in which the desired effect has not occurred.

Side effects should not be excluded, although these are usually infrequent and mild.

We are looking forward to new developments, studies and experiences from people who have already used CBD!

Nordic-oil-which-has-been-reviewed-by-Green-and-Simple
Nordic Oil is one of the products that has been reviewed by Green & Simple.

Success Stories for CBD and epilepsy

Our success stories come from social media, other CBD websites or through people we know personally. Some people are comfortable sharing their names and products, others prefer to remain anonymous. We feel hearing other people's positive experiences are a vital part of learning about how CBD can help, although it is important to remember that not all CBD products work the same for everyone. Don't be disheartened if one product/dosage doesn't work for you... keep trying!

We'd love to hear your success stories! If you would like to share yours, please get in touch at greenandsimple@mail.com

“For nearly the next two decades, my daughter would continue to have seizures — sometimes hundreds per day — she’s severely disabled, nonverbal, and requires full assistance with all life’s activities...Within one week of giving Sophie her first dose of CBD oil, she had the first seizure-free day of her life. By the end of the month, she had periods of up to two weeks without seizures. Over the next three years, I was able to eliminate one of the two antiepileptic drugs she’d been taking for over seven years." Read Sophie's full story on how CBD changed her life.

Tryste experienced his first epileptic seizure in 2013 when he was 12 years old, but a few years later, his condition began to deteriorate quickly. For Tryste, cannabis was a last resort to relieve his epilepsy after years of other treatments failed to provide relief….The family were astounded by how quickly, and how well, the treatment worked. Read the full story on how CBD helped Tryste.

"I have suffered from epilepsy (grand-mal) for the past 20+ years. I have tried most of the anti-epileptic meds that are available - none of which worked for me. I have experienced diverse and terrible side affectsm including suicidal thoughts, aggression, anxiety and depression. My epilepsy has caused all sorts of issues with work - i.e. not being able ot work - as well as affecting everything in my life. One day I decided to just stop the meds, obviously my consultant wasn't happy, but I had to try something different. I found high protein foods helped but it did not fully maintain my seizures. I heard about medical CBD which was used to treat epilepsy, but was only prescribed through specialist doctors given it's THC content. So when CBD became legal in the UK, I gave it a try. I started with a low dosage oil and gradually increased to 2400mg x 20ml bottle. My last seizure was over two years ago!! My life has changed for the better, I'm back to full time work and decided to start my own business." Gary now runs his own business selling the product which changed his life - www.urbanvape.store
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The world is slowly beginning to realise the benefits of CBD. Human studies remain in their infancy but the results so far are extremely promising, and the success stories we are hearing are beyond inspiring.

We think CBD is amazing and we've made it our goal to provide you with the best possible information and feedback to help you decide if CBD is right for you. For our content, we research and evaluate the latest studies and sources from the multiple sources in the US and the UK.

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