Medical Cannabis and Seizures

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March 21, 2019
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One of the main reasons that medical cannabis (marijuana) has become so popular is due to its powerful treatment against seizures. Not only effective for adults, medical cannabis has shown to be as effective in treating children and pets who suffer from seizures as well. Medical cannabis has been such a wonderful alternative treatment that the FDA has approved clinical trials and multiple studies are continuously confirming its benefits. Because seizure disorders cannot be cured, unfortunately, they are generally treated with a variety of pharmaceutical medications such as sedatives, anticonvulsants, and pain medications. The main problem is that there is no guarantee that these medications will work and they often have unpleasant side effects. With millions of people and pets suffering from epilepsy and other seizure disorders, it’s no surprise that a large amount of patients are turning to medical cannabis for plant-based, natural relief.

Approximately 50 millions people suffer from epilepsy and related seizure disorders worldwide, making seizures one of the most common neurological disorders in the world. Epileptic seizures are caused by faulty electrical discharges in the brain. This neurological misfiring causes the brain to incorrectly send signals to other parts of the body and can create symptoms such as convulsions, loss of consciousness, and occasionally altered senses or sense of awareness. Living with this condition makes managing daily tasks quite difficult. For some patients, their quality of life can become so diminished that it can become difficult to care for children or maintain employment. This can lead patients to experience feelings of anxiety and depression.

The truth is that living with a seizure disorder can be incredible disruptive and in some cases even fatal. Some patients are able to effectively manage their symptoms with pharmaceutical medications and some younger patients may even “grow out of it”. Unfortunately, seizure disorders are not all the same and patients often experience a wide range in their symptoms as well as a range of results when taking medications. As many as 30% of epileptic patients do not respond to traditional anticonvulsant medication, making the use of alternative treatments such as medical cannabis not just an attractive option, but in these cases a necessity. 

So how can medical cannabis help treat seizures? Firstly, medical cannabis has anticonvulsant properties. The cannabis plant is made up of various chemical compounds known as cannabinoids. Out of approximately 85, the most recognized cannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Most of the anticonvulsant properties come from cannabidiol (CBD) and a small percentage of patients are able to relieve their symptoms with cannabis oil extracts high in CBD. For the majority of patients, however, they will need a small amount of THC, in combination with CBD, for the best results. This synergistic approach is known as The Entourage Effect and is generally the most potent chemical combination for seizure disorders. These chemical interactions work to target calcium ion channels, sodium ion channels, glutamate receptor antagonists, and the GATA system and its antagonists in the brain. This affects how the neurotransmitters send messages between neurons and stops them from misfiring and, thus, stops the seizures.

When deciding on a medical cannabis protocol for a specific illness such as epilepsy, the medicine should be taken on a regular and consistent basis for maximum effectiveness. This means that while it can absolutely be used to regulate sudden flare-ups, routine maintenance is essential. As in the case of any supplementation, it’s best to establish a baseline level in the body. For managing seizure disorders, it is recommended that medical cannabis be ingested in the form of a full spectrum cannabis oil such as a tincture or full extract oil. Edibles are always preferred over smoking. For acute flare-ups a vaporizer may also be used. The benefit of vaporizing is that a wave of relief is felt right away. As there are many types of medical cannabis oil and various strains available, it is advised that patients speak with qualified medical cannabis practitioners before beginning any medicinal treatment plan.

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