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Medical Marijuana and Epilepsy

by Christy Coy 3 min read


Studies Show Cannabis Can Be Used to Treat Epilepsy

For many years, the use of medical cannabis as a treatment for a variety of ailments - chronic pain conditions, anxiety, cancer - has been hotly debated and widely studied. Thanks to some recent findings, cannabis is now considered a viable option for the treatment of epilepsy, which comes as a great relief to families with loved ones suffering.

Though medical cannabis in general can be used to relieve the seizures caused by epilepsy, it is specifically one compound - cannabidiol (CBD) - that has been shown to be effective in reducing the number of seizures.

CBD differs from tetrahydrolcannabinol (THC) in that it doesn’t produce the euphoric feeling when consumed. It gives patients all the benefits of relief from seizures without being intoxicating.

In a study published in theNew England Journal of Medicine, children and teens with Dravet syndrome were given a CBD-based drug for 14 weeks. Dravet syndrome is a rare drug-resistant seizure disorder that can be debilitating. In the 14 weeks of the study, the median number of convulsive seizures per month experienced by the trial group decreased by more than 50%, as opposed to a just 5% decrease in the control group.

Learn more about Big Pharma & Cannabis

Is Cannabis Use Legal in the Treatment of Epilepsy?

Depending on which state you live in, cannabis could be legal for medicinal use in the treatment of epilepsy. There are 31 states, plus the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico, that have legalized the use of cannabis for a variety of medical applications. Whether epilepsy is an approved condition, and what types of medical cannabis are open to you to use, depends on the laws of your state.

How Do Patients with Epilepsy Need to Consume Cannabis to Benefit?

While many think patients must smoke traditional cannabis to feel the benefits, there are far more options open to epileptic patients to find relief.

Because it is the CBD that produces the suppression of seizures, patients can choose nearly any method of cannabis consumption they choose. A great option for those wishing to consume their cannabis without the added risk of inhaling tar, burnt plant matter, or other chemical compounds, vaporizing has become increasingly popular. 

Learn more: Medical Use of Cannabinoids

Because vaporizers heat concentrates to a lower temperature than traditional smoking or other consumption methods such as dabbing, the CBD is released without burning the concentrate, creating that charring. Vape pens, such as those found in smoke shops for tobacco, can be fitted with special tanks to vape cannabis without the need to purchase a new pen or a bunch of extra equipment. 

There are a variety of other methods open to medical cannabis consumers, including tinctures, oils, edibles, and dabbing. Finding the method that works best for your lifestyle may take some experimentation, but consulting with your dispensary can put you on a good path.

At Hemper we carry a full line of legal forms of CBD Products that contain no more than 0.3% THC. Some forms include:

Are There Side Effects to Using Cannabis to Treat Epilepsy?

Like any substance you consume, there can be side effects to medical cannabis use. What those side effects are and how they impact you depend largely on the type of cannabis you consume, how you consume it, and whether or not you are taking any other drugs.

In previous studies, patients reported fatigue, diarrhea, and nausea as side effects of taking the test drug containing CBD. However, patients in the control group also reported diarrhea and nausea, so these side effects could stem from the fact that the drug was administered to test subjects in oil form.

Additionally, because medical cannabis is broken down by the liver like any other medication, there is the possibility that using medical cannabis could interact with any other medications you take, producing side effects. Consult with your doctor about whether medical cannabis is right for you, and whether you should continue to take any other medications while introducing medical cannabis into your routine.

Knowledge Check: Cannabis & Autism

Epilepsy is a chronic condition that, depending on the frequency and severity of seizures, can be debilitating for those who suffer from it. Some forms of epilepsy, such as Dravets syndrome, are resistant to medications. This leaves patients with little hope of controlling their seizures and forced to take a battery of medications for life.

Thanks to some important research regarding medical cannabis in epilepsy patients, families in states where medical cannabis is legal may have another option for the treatment and control of the seizures. If you believe that medical cannabis could help you or a loved one suffering from epilepsy, talk with your doctor.