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Epilepsy drugs don’t work well, or at all, for about one-third of people with the condition. Unfortunately, these hard-to-treat epilepsies are associated with an increased risk of premature death.
The two main constituents of cannabis oil are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). Oil containing CBD alone (CBD oil) can be legally bought in the UK without a prescription because it contains only very low quantities of THC. But cannabis oil that contains THC at higher levels (more than 0.3%) is illegal. THC is a schedule 1 drug, that is to say, it is deemed to have no medicinal value.
We now need to decide if we should expand human trials with better defined THC-containing cannabis oil, or if we should focus on CBD. The fact that Epidiolex has progressed towards approval in the US may encourage the latter course. CBD lacks psychoactive effects associated with THC and, in general, is regarded as a safe compound.
In [animal studies], THC has weak overall effects in reducing seizures and has also been shown to be a less effective anticonvulsant than CBD. THC, being a psychoactive substance, also has a number of side effects, including the well-known euphoric “high” associated with recreational use – which is a significant disincentive for the pharmaceutical industry to develop a medicine containing this compound.
Cannabidiol – known as CBD – is a chemical found in cannabis plants and it is believed to help treat a number of conditions. It is different to THC, which is the chemical in marijuana that makes people feel ‘high’.
If you wish to purchase CBD oil for seizures, you should always speak with your doctor first. Research has shown that ‘artisanal’ CBD oil – which is legal but made by small companies – is much less effective than pharmaceutical grade CBD. So it is best to go with your doctor’s recommendation.
How does CBD oil stop seizures?
Around one third of people with epilepsy have drug-resistant epilepsy, which means traditional medication does not control their seizures. For people with drug-resistant epilepsy (also known as refractory epilepsy), the possibility that medical marijuana could help them reduce or even end seizures is, of course, exciting.
It is possible to purchase CBD oil for seizures in adults from health food stores in most, but not all, US states (although the rules vary, and you should always check with your healthcare provider). Many companies promote the use of CBD oil for a range of conditions – from anxiety to insomnia to chronic pain – and it may be marketed as a solution to epilepsy too.
Here is everything we know about CBD oil and seizures.
Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment: “Cannabidiol as an Intervention for Addictive Behaviors: A Systematic Review of the Evidence.”
CBD oil by itself is not. But CBD products that also have THC can be. The key again is to know the source and check the ingredients and the amounts so you know exactly what you’re using.
FDA: “Warning Letters and Test Results for Cannabidiol-Related Products,” “FDA approves first drug comprised of an active ingredient derived from marijuana to treat rare, severe forms of epilepsy.”
Does It Help Psychosis?
4) temmuzcan / Getty Images
World Health Organization: “Cannabidiol (CBD) Pre-Review Report.”
In normal conditions, CBD doesn’t seem to affect this one way or the other. But researchers are studying whether it might help keep your blood pressure stable when you’re stressed. More work needs to be done before scientists fully understand its effects.
14) junce / Thinkstock