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Can You Use Cannabis to Treat Epilepsy?

The cannabis plant is very well known for its amazing health and therapeutic benefits. And owing to this, a lot of people nowadays are using it just as their daily meal. The conditions it can help you with are countless. In fact, every cannabis-friendly state has a long list of ailments for which they provide a medical marijuana card. And this is helping a lot of patients lead a comfortable and healthy life

But can it help you with epilepsy too?

Unlike other chronic ailments for which you can find OTC medicines readily, epilepsy is a condition that requires a special mixture of chemicals that is not easily available. Given this, a lot of people are turning to cannabis, specifically for its CBD.

But how effective is cannabis for epileptic seizures? Medical marijuana doctors in Riverside CA are very positive about this.

What is Epilepsy?

We won’t go much deeper into this, as most of you probably know what this condition is. I mean, that’s why you are here, right? But for people who don’t know, lemme explain it to you briefly. 

Epilepsy, which is also known as Seizure Disorder, is the world’s third most common neurological disorder, just after Alzheimer’s and Strokes. It is a condition in which the activity of the nerve cells is disturbed, which may cause seizures. There are a total of three main types of seizures: Generalized Onset Seizures (Impacts both sides of the brain), Focal Onset Seizures (Starts with a one known area), and Unknown Onset Seizures (Onset point is unknown).

As per the studies, there are more than 65 million epilepsy patients in the world. And in the US alone, this number touches 3.4 million mark. As per a report, 1 out of every 26 Americans will develop this condition at some point during their life. 

Cannabis and Epilepsy: A brief History

The relationship between cannabis and epilepsy date back to around 1800 BCE. Yes, you read it right! “1800 BCE.” There are some very strong evidences from Akkadian and Sumerian clay tablets that suggest cannabis was used to treat seizures at that time. During the 10th century too, a Persian physician Ali ibn al-Abbas al-Majusi used to recommend people to snort hemp juice through their nose to treat their epilepsy. And then, in the 1890s, Sir John Russel, who was the physician of Queen Victoria, suggested cannabis for various conditions, including epilepsy.

Most recently, the use of cannabis was popularized by a very famous case of Charlotte Figi. Charlotte was a little girl who was suffering from a very rare and severe type of epilepsy, “The Dravet Syndrome.” After trying out every epilepsy treatment, and failing, her parents turned to cannabis. Charlotte’s mother used to feed CBD oil to her with her meals. And soon, there was an improvement. This case further strengthened the case of cannabis as a remedy for epilepsy.

How Cannabis Helps Treat Seizures?

To understand the relationship between cannabis and epilepsy clearly, let’s say, in the normal state, our brain is a state of balance between inhibition and excitation. This balance is modulated by the brain cells by releasing the chemicals that either inhibit or excite the other cells in our brains. But in epilepsy, this balance often falls toward the excitation excessively. And this leads to seizures. 

Cannabis helps epilepsy patients restore this inhibition and excitation balance. As per the experts, there are some forms of epilepsy that are quite resistant to traditional treatments of epilepsy because of the reduction in the inhibition levels of the brain. And CBD helps restore that level.

Different Types of Epilepsy Vs. CBD

As per the research, there are more than 30 different types of epilepsy. So, does CBD has the ability to treat all of them? 

Medical marijuana doctors in Riverside CA say that the type of epilepsy also has an important role to play here. There are various different reasons why someone develops epilepsy. This may range from injuries to chemical exposures to genetics. And you should not that every type of epilepsy is different. Each has a different underlying factor. And thus, the treatment methods should also differ.

Until now, the efficiency of CBD has been focussed mostly on the types of epilepsy that are developed due to genetics.

Epilepsy Vs. THC

Until now, we understood how CBD is helpful in treating epilepsy. But cannabis isn’t all about CBD. It has many other compounds too. And the one most popular is THC. THC is very famous for its psychoactive abilities that make the consumer “high.” Plus, it has many other therapeutic properties. But does it contribute to epilepsy treatment too?

Cannabis experts believe that CBD and THC, though coming from the same plant, have very different effects on the brain. Furthermore, they say that THC may help people reduce the symptoms of epilepsy, as it can reduce brain excitation, but does not increase the inhibition level. However, the major drawback of using THC is its ability to develop tolerance. And this isn’t a very good thing while treating epilepsy. Doctors suggest that if you want to use a product with both CBD and THC, you should go with something that has a rich amount of CBD. Also, you should keep in mind that the clinical trials on this subject have been done using Epidolex, which contains around 98 percent CBD.

Effective CBD dosage for Epilepsy

When it comes to the right dosage of CBD to treat epilepsy, clinical studies say you should consume it two to three times a day. But you should note that the CBD dose you need for epilepsy is much higher as compared to when you are treating other conditions, such as anxiety or PTSD. Furthermore, CBD acts differently on different people. And thus, there is no single dosage for everyone.

However, finding the right dosage for you isn’t hard. You just need to follow a stepwise dosing procedure. The stepwise dosing procedure is a process in which you start with a base dosage, and then keep on increasing it with a set gap of time until you find the right dosage for you. 

Medical marijuana doctors in Riverside CA suggest that while trying stepwise dosing, you should start with a very low dose, and keep the process slow and steady until you find your effective dose. Also, once you’ve found your effective dosage, you may decrease it one step and check if you are getting the benefits with a lower dosage or not. If yes, then maintain it. Otherwise, switch back to the higher one.

So, now you know how effective is cannabis to treat epilepsy! Are you thinking of getting an MMJ card? Great! But don’t forget to talk to your doctor regarding this first.