Medical cannabis, or more popularly called CBD oil, has plenty of health benefits; however, the strongest evidence thus far is its effective treatment of epilepsy.
CBD is a major marijuana-derived cannabinoid. There are about 400 chemical compounds found in marijuana, also known as cannabis, but its main active ingredient is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC, is a psychoactive compound in cannabis that makes people high. Yet, CBD oil has no THC content. The hope is that through CBD, the health benefits of marijuana would be well-documented, and be able to treat its patients without them getting high. Currently, epilepsy is the only approved-use case.
The drug has shown it could treat patients two years and older with rare forms of epilepsy that emerge during childhood. Dravet Syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome are the forms of epilepsy that can be quite difficult to treat.
Among the initial proofs that cannabis compounds could be taken as anticonvulsants originated from studies involving animals dating back 1970s. When CBD and THC oils were examined, both has shown to have strong anti-seizure potentials among mice.
Further, previous studies have shown that the activity threshold of seizures could be interfered by the endocannabinoid system, or cannabinoid receptors. THC apparently, can reduce the seizure threshold completely.
The Charlotte Figi case has shown that CBD can be an effective seizure treatment. Charlotte, who resides in Colorado, has been suffering from constant seizures until her parents gave CBD a try. It was a success after many attempts at treating the girl’s condition with different treatments. Through the drug, Charlotte’s seizures were down to only 2-3 monthly seizures from 300 weekly grand mal seizures.
This case has definitely illustrated the potency of CBD to treat seizures, but it is still necessary to have a better grasp on how this medical cannabis worked as well as whether it is reasonable to conduct further studies on its use and effects.
How does CBD aid in subsiding epileptic seizures?
The properties of CBD work on totally different targets, including the GATA system and receptor agonists, glutamate receptor antagonists, calcium ion channels, and sodium ion channels, in the brain.
The neurotransmitters liable for sending messages or attach themselves to the neurons could be affected by anticonvulsants. This is carried out to change cell activities by modifying the manner by which ions get into and out of the neurones.
The use of Epidiolex, a drug sourced from marijuana , was approved only in June 2018, by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The approval was for the treatment of the two rare types of epilepsy, namely and Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. FDA said that it is the first approved drug to treat Dravet syndrome.
On the other hand, a new clinical trial has suggested that based on their research, As far as treating epilepsy with the CBD extracted from marijuana, less appears to be more. Thus, patients that take a 10mg per day of pharmaceutical grade CBD has resulted to a significant seizure reduction as compared to those who took a 20 mg dosage. Further, lead researcher and director of NYU Langone’s Comprehensive Epilepsy Center Dr. Orrin Devinsky, found that less dosage results to fewer side effects. He added that this was the third clinical trial to prove that the CBD drug Epidiolex is an effective medication against two rare forms of the disease.
To summarize, while there are proof that CBD, medical-grade cannabis active ingredient, could be effective in reducing seizures, cannabis oil per se cannot be generalized as a harmless and effective treatment of epilepsy. More research, particularly on human subjects need to be done.