IMPORTANT: All information contained on this website is for educational purposes only. None of this information should be construed as medical or treatment advice for any specific person or condition. Cannabis has not been analyzed or approved by the FDA, and there is limited information on the side effects of using cannabis as a medication. You should always consult a licensed physician in all matters related to your health.
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder resulting in seizures that originate in the brain. Approximately 3.4 million people nationwide have epilepsy. The intensity and frequency of seizures varies from person to person. Some are mild, while others can be more debilitating, or even fatal. Some people are born with epilepsy. For others, it can develop over time. Epilepsy can also be triggered by illness or injury. Today, there is an increasing amount of research on the potential benefits of using cannabis to reduce seizures.
CBD is a cannabinoid in the cannabis plant that does not cause any psychoactive effects. It works with the body’s own endocannabinoid system to help regulate brain and nervous system functions, which are overstimulated in epileptics.
CBD has been shown to have anti-epileptic properties, prompting the FDA to approve it for use in treating some forms of epilepsy. Studies show that CBD is particularly useful for treating seizure disorders in children.
The main goal in treating epilepsy is to reduce or control the frequency and intensity of seizures. Pharmaceutical anti-epileptic medications are usually the first line of treatment. Many patients may only need to take one medication, while others may require a combination of medications to bring seizures under control.
When medications fail to adequately control seizures, doctors may recommend surgery. These procedures focus on pinpointing and removing the area of the brain where seizures occur. Surgery is only considered if the affected area is small and won’t interfere with vital things like speech, vision, hearing, motor function, or memory.
While both medication and surgeries are effective for many patients, both carry potential risks, ranging from mild to severe. Anti-seizure meds can cause fatigue, dizziness, motor, speech and memory problems. Serious side effects may include organ inflammation and depression or suicidal thoughts.
And patients should always understand the inherent risks of surgery, including anesthesia side effects and other potential complications. In rare cases, surgeries for epilepsy can alter cognitive abilities.
Many patients are interested in finding a more natural epilepsy treatment, with potentially fewer risks and side effects — and cannabis medicine may hold the key.
In addition to CBD-based treatments approved by the FDA, studies continue to investigate the benefits of cannabis for both adult and pediatric patients with epilepsy. Particularly high-CBD, low-THC formulations, are widely accepted to be beneficial in treating some of the most debilitating forms of epilepsy.
If you’d like to learn more about how cannabis may benefit you or a loved one suffering from epilepsy, talk with your doctor. If you’re interested in getting your medical marijuana card, NETA is here to help.