What is CBD? It’s a naturally occurring substance found in cannabis. People also call it cannabinoid. CBD oil is popularly known for treating symptoms associated with seizures and epilepsy.

Recently, there’s a rampant increase in research trying to find out more about the compound CBD and cannabis generally. Knowledge about CBD is crucial to help get aware of the risks and side effects related to its consumption. Medical professionals also play a great role in deciding the suitability of this oil as a treatment choice. This article will discuss the usefulness of CBD and epilepsy. Let’s read on to find out ore.

Understanding epilepsy and seizures

A change in the brain’s electrical activity can lead to seizures. The potential seizure causes include the following:

  • Brain infections
  • Epilepsy
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Drug overdose
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Electrolyte imbalances

Cannaboidal or CBD compound extracted from cannabis herb is used for chronic pain management and anxiety reduction in humans. It can as well be used in treating a few seizure types.

Working of CBD for epilepsy

The exact way in which CBD helps in preventing epilepsy isn’t known yet. However, it can be simplified in this way; the human body composes a system called endocannabinoid.  This system is made of receptors and neurotransmitters. It helps in regulating different body functions, including sleep, pain, and appetite, not forgetting the immune system reaction. Researchers say that the compound CBD helps enhance these functions by combining with the system.

Research done on animals suggested that antseizure impacts by CBD could be as a result of neuron excitability reduction, through action on various receptors. Only one drug has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration body, FDA for treating epilepsy. It’s called Epidiolex. The drug is also approved for treating genetic disorder seizures called tuberous sclerosis complex.

The most useful way to use CBD for epilepsy

When treating seizures, it’s always a reminder that your doctor should know. It’s because a professional has knowledge to determine if the CBD will temper with other current drugs or not. According to research, some people have reported increased seizures after using CBD. That’s a doctor is needed to monitor a person’s seizure frequency and give the correct prescription.

Medical professionals recommend that you take 2.5 mg/kg of Epidiolex twice daily. This dosage can be added to 5 mg/kg after one week, twice every day. The amount can be raised to 10mgkg relying on one’s tolerability and response. You’re also advised to avoid stopping abruptly when using CBD to calm seizures, failure to which an increase in seizure activity can be experienced.

CBD interaction with other epilepsy medications

Data collection on studies has shown that 1 in 500 individuals develop the risk increased suicidal thoughts caused by consuming antepileptic and CBD drugs. Potentially, CBD properly acts together with other seizure controlling medications. The current medication may be more or less function when used alongside CBD. Some well-known medicines that go well with CBD are:

  • Topiramate
  • Stiripentol
  • Zonisamide
  • Brivaracetam
  • Rufinamide
  • Clobazam

One should never take CBD in the place of traditional treatment, unless it’s an instruction from your doctor. To emphasize, a doctor will help adjust your medication dosage where necessary to go along with CBD.

Side effects caused by CBD to treat epilepsy

We’ve got common side effects resulting from CBD use, such as drowsiness, sleepiness, diarrhea, and appetite loss. Also, combining CBD and other specific medications could cause increased liver damage risk. Most CBD oils on the market aren’t authorized by FDA, and have a big mislabeling risk. Commercial CBD oils will mostly have contaminants and heavy metals that affect a consumer’s health negatively. Regardless of the reason you’re intaking CBD, be sure it has gone through third party testing for impurities. Other side effects include increased seizure frequency after using cannabis.

Clinical tests supporting CBD’s use in epilepsy treatment

Studies in America concerning Epidiolex have been in progress for many years. In 2018, June data recorded provided a confirmation leading to FDA’s approval of CBD. The drug is a purified CBD extract containing more than 90% oil. Another research provided evidence that CBD taken alongside other epilepsy medicines could affect the epilepsy medicine levs in blood. That means, when used with other drugs, it can led to adverse effects. A good illustration is individuals combining clobazam drug with CBD. They’re likely to experience increased sedation. Also, those taking CBD and valproate at the same time, risk developing an altered liver function.

Despite what we know from the evidence from various studies, there’s still more that needs an explanation. For instance, no study has so far said about the effectiveness or safety of CBD. The other cannabis component, THC has not been talked of farther. We, therefore, don’t know if it has an extra effect to CBD. What about additional risks and side effects?

There’s also no study linking CBD to other medicines authorized to treat epilepsy. This means nobody knows the effectiveness brought by cannabinoid; is it more or less impactful? Another puzzle is that most studies mainly targeted researching on hard-to-treat epilepsy types in children, but no evidence is enough to assure if pharmaceutical cannabis can benefit others with the condition. These studies have again majorly used standardized and highly regulated CBD drugs. What people don’t know is if the locally available CBD products in shops effective or safe.

The bottom line

There’s still ongoing research finding out the ability of CBD to help ease seizures. Currently, CBD has been approved to treat a few epilepsy types and tuberous sclerosis complex. Cannabis products can increase the number of seizures in some instances. For this reason, it’s important to involve your doctor when handling seizures. By doing that you’ll be advised on the potential interaction of the CBD product and your current medication. Your progress can also be tracked with time to note any changes in seizure frequency, whether it’s increasing or decreasing and a way forward will be given.

Charlotte Cremers
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MS, University of Tartu
Sleep specialist

Using the acquired academic and professional experience, I advise patients with various complaints about mental health - depressed mood, nervousness, lack of energy and interest, sleep disorders, panic attacks, obsessive thoughts and anxieties, difficulty concentrating, and stress. In my free time, I love to paint and go on long walks on the beach. One of my latest obsessions is sudoku – a wonderful activity to calm an unease mind.

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