According to the CDC, 1.2 percent of the US population had active epilepsy. It becomes around 3.4 million individuals—including 3 million adults and 470,000 children.
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that is characterized by abnormal brain activity, unusual behavior, and loss of consciousness. There’s scientific evidence that marijuana can be used as an effective treatment for epilepsy. Its amazing cannabinoids stimulate the endocannabinoid system, thus easing the symptoms.
Currently, 33 US states have legalized the medical use of cannabis. In each state, there are licensed dispensaries, and you require a medical marijuana card to access them. In most states, an MMJ card is valid for 12 months, and you need to renew it after that.
Major Symptoms of Epilepsy
- Jerking arms and legs
- Loss of awareness
- Falling suddenly without apparent reason
However, some other conditions can cause similar symptoms. These include sleep disorders, nightmares, fainting, cataplexy, panic attacks, and narcolepsy. So, make sure you don’t mistake these conditions with epilepsy. It’s good to talk to a licensed doctor to diagnose your condition.
Epilepsy can lead to multiple seizures while a seizure is a single occurrence. However, seizures aren’t always associated with epilepsy.
Endocannabinoid System & Epilepsy
The endocannabinoid system is a cell-signaling system, which is responsible for controlling different bodily functions. These include sleep, mood, memory, and appetite. It contains two types of cannabinoid receptors—CB1 and CB2 receptors, endocannabinoids, anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol, and endocannabinoid anabolic and catabolic enzymes.
Medical studies have confirmed that the ECS plays a significant role in the brain’s response to seizure disorders. The cannabinoid receptors are present in the hippocampus, a brain region associated with emotions and memory. Abnormal changes in hippocampal cells may result in seizures. However, cannabinoids have a protective nature against these abnormal cells.
How Marijuana Works?
In the human body, there exists an endogenous cannabinoid system, which is stimulated by chemical compounds found in the marijuana plants.
Some clinical trials have shown that cannabis use can help in controlling epilepsy. Phytocannabinoids are effective in decreasing glutamate synthesis in the central nervous system. This helps in providing anti-inflammatory effects and reducing seizure activity.
According to a recent evaluation of cannabis oil containing both THC and CBD, it reported a significant reduction in seizure frequency in children suffering from Dravet syndrome. After 20 weeks, researchers found that the seizure frequency was reduced to 70 percent. However, negative effects such as fatigue, diarrhea, anorexia, etc. were also noted. So, researchers believe that following safe dosage guidelines can make cannabis an effective treatment for epilepsy.
In research presented at the 67th Annual Meeting of the American Epilepsy Society, epilepsy patients reported that cannabis was helpful in controlling seizures and mood disorders. Additionally, the participants reported an improvement in appetite and sleep quality.
Moreover, in epilepsy patients, anxiety and stress can also trigger seizures. Cannabis is proven effective in managing these conditions, thus reducing the risks of epilepsy.
A study published in January 2020 reported that 2-AG reduced risks of anxiety connections between the frontal cortex and amygdala regions of the brain. 2-AG activates the same receptors as THC, a psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana.
What About CBD?
CBD is a non-psychoactive compound that provides medicinal benefits without delivering high effects. The FDA has approved Epidiolex for the treatment of Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome in patients aged 2 years and more. Epidiolex is a prescription medication that contains CBD.
Researchers have evaluated the link between CBD and epilepsy and found promising results. A recent study reported that CBD was effective in treating epileptic seizures in children. The researchers found that oral methods reported a significant reduction in seizure frequency as compared to a placebo. About 40 percent of the participants reduced seizure frequency by 50 percent.
However, oral CBD consumption also reported some side-effects, such as diarrhea. As a result, 8.9 percent of the participants withdrew from the study.
Should You Start Using Cannabis For Epilepsy?
When using cannabis for managing epilepsy, there are many things you should consider. Remember, cannabis doesn’t provide the same effects to all patients. This is because everyone has a different condition and body chemistry.
There’s a wide range of cannabis strains with varying THC and CBD levels. Do comprehensive research on your condition and strains, and get what’s right for your condition.
Moreover, the amount of cannabis you consume matters. For beginners, it’s recommended to start with a low dose of CBD. The objective is to learn the effects of cannabinoids on your body. However, you can adjust the dosage to get the desired health benefits.
Apart from dosage and strain, choose the appropriate ways to consume cannabis. The common methods of marijuana consumption are-
The most popular marijuana delivery method, which involves inhaling the smoke produced by heating flowers. It provides immediate effects, which usually last for 1-3 hours. Smoking allows consumers the most control of the strain and cannabinoids. However, the smoke contains carcinogenic compounds, which can cause lung problems.
Cannabis is heated using a vaporizer to extract its cannabinoids. Since vaping occurs at a low temperature, it’s considered safe as compared to smoking. Within seconds, you will experience the effects, which diminish usually in a couple of hours. However, you should buy vaping oils or cartridges from a reputable company.
These are available in several forms—gummies, chocolates, snacks, pizzas, ice-creams, etc. So, you can eat cannabis to deliver its medicinal effects. Edibles are processed through the digestive system and take longer to deliver their effects.
These are absorbed sublingually, thus delivering the cannabinoids directly in the bloodstream. As compared to edibles, alcohol-based tinctures are faster—onset time is 20-30 minutes. Tinctures usually last for 12 hours.
These are balms, creams, and lotions, which are absorbed directly into the skin to deliver more focused therapeutic effects. Onset time is 5 minutes to 2 hours and the duration is up to 12 hours. Topicals are perfect for managing pain and inflammation in patients with arthritis, migraine, and bone fracture.
How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card Online?
Telemedicine technology allows you to apply for 420 evaluation online within a few minutes. So, you need not leave your home to see a doctor in the clinic. Just fill a simple form and a licensed doctor will talk to you online. Here’s the complete process-
- Sign up an account
- See a doctor through the HIPAA-compliant platform
- Receive your MMJ recs in PDF via email
Marijuana use can help in managing a wide range of medical conditions. Medical studies have found that it can be used as an effective treatment for epilepsy and seizures. The herb contains cannabinoids with ultimate therapeutic properties. When these cannabinoids are delivered into the body, they bind to receptors in the endocannabinoid system.
There’s scientific evidence that a non-psychoactive compound CBD can help in easing epilepsy symptoms. The FDA has approved a CBD-based drug named Epilepsy for the treatment of Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome in patients aged 2 years and above.
However, when using cannabis for epilepsy treatment, make sure you select the right strains, consumption methods, and dosage. Talk to a licensed doctor to get your medical marijuana card.