Is medical marijuana a viable treatment for epilepsy? Can cannabis become a solution to treating severe seizures or even treatment-resistant epilepsy? These questions have been both heavily researched and hotly debated. There is a lot of conversation in the scientific community about the possible benefits of using the cannabidiol elements of cannabis to treat epileptic patients. The cannabidiol, or CBD, parts of cannabis are the parts that have the most positive impact; the tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, parts are what causes a person to feel “high”.
Cannabis and Treatment-Resistant Epilepsy
In June of 2018, the FDA approved a specific cannabidiol that could be used to treat specific strains of epilepsy. These include Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, both of which are characterized by severe and frequent seizures. This approved CBD is the first drug to be specifically approved for Dravet Syndrome, according to Dr. Billy Dunn of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.
Cannabis and Seizures
There have been studies and evidence that have shown that CBD can be useful in treating seizures, especially with patients who have previously been unresponsive to treatment. This can be particularly hopeful when almost 30% of those with epileptic seizures are not receptive to traditional treatments. The use of CBD to treat seizures is one of the first uses that has garnered significant attention from the scientific community. It has also been tested that there is a smaller amount of the treatment needed to achieve the same result.
Cannabis and Side Effects
As with any medicine, CBD comes with its own court of side effects. The most common ones that were observed in the randomized tests of the drug were: fatigue, decreased appetite, rashes, infections, diarrhea, among others. Cannabis in conjunction with other epileptic drugs has been noted to increase the chance of liver issues as well.
While the FDA has approved the use of CBD to help in the treatment of epilepsy, time will tell if it becomes a common practice. The Epilepsy Foundation supports the advocation of treatment by way of medical marijuana. Cannabis could become a very strong contender in the treatment of seizures and rare forms of epilepsy, such as Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. While there are side effects to be expected with the use of CBD as treatment, they are not out of the ordinary.