An Overview on What Medical Marijuana Can Do for Epilepsy and the Best Strains for It
Get to know: Epilepsy
Epilepsy is a central nervous system disorder characterized by a disruption in the brain nerve activity that causes seizures, convulsions, strange sensations and a loss of consciousness. Affecting 1 in 26 people in the United States, the disorder can range in severity from relatively benign to disabling or life-threatening. The occurrence of a single seizure doesn’t necessarily mean that a person has epilepsy.
Moreover, the call for the diagnosis of epilepsy arises after experiencing two or more unprovoked seizures at least 24 hours apart. This is the time that many patients are converting their prescription medication to medical marijuana. There are many strong benefits marijuana contributes to the overall health of epileptic patients. Now we’ll cover the importance of medical marijuana in epilepsy as an alternative treatment.
Medical Marijuana As An Alternative Treatment
Research has shown that cannabinoids, extracted from the cannabis plant, may be a safe and well-tolerated therapeutic treatment for reducing or even eliminating seizure activity. Studies have demonstrated cannabis as an effective treatment for managing seizures in both children and adults.
Many patients suffering from epilepsy, and other seizure disorders have found great relief from cannabinoids, either taken by itself or in conjunction with more traditional medications. Others who suffer from seizures, but can’t tolerate anti-seizure medications, have used medical marijuana to successfully control their seizures. Medical marijuana also lacks the side effects found in traditional medicines used to treat epilepsy. Marijuana side effects are typically mild and are classified as “low-risk”.
Based on this, GW Pharmaceuticals, a British pharmaceutical company, conducted preliminary phase 3 trials with their drug Epidiolex in select hospitals in the US under the FDA’s expanded access Investigational New Drugs (IND) program. Initial results have proved promising with an overall 44% seizure reduction seen in the 27 Dravet syndrome patients tested. Epidiolex is an investigational drug which comes in a liquid form and contains 98% CBD, trace quantities of some other cannabinoids, and no THC.
In addition to undergoing three separate tests for purity and potential contaminants, Charlotte’s Web extract is tested for its cannabinoid content – the cannabinoid profile is approximately 28:1 of CBD to THC. Patients are started at 0.5mg/lb and slowly increase the dose up until seizure control is established.
Heather Jackson, Executive Director of Realm of Caring, breeders of the now famous Charlotte’s Web strain states,
“Out of 200 children treated at Realm of Caring, 78% have seen seizure reduction with 25% being almost 100% seizure free. Even if they don’t see the significant seizure control there are developmental gains.”
But How Does It Really Work?
Most of the breakthrough research investigating the potential benefits of cannabinoids for epilepsy focus on their interactions with the body’s major regulatory network that is responsible for keeping a wide array of functions in balance. Studies have shown that cannabinoids are modulated to eliminate seizure activity. In particular, the endocannabinoid system’s cannabinoid 1 receptor (CB1), when activated, inhibits the release of a particular neurotransmitter and reduces overall neuronal excitability to prevent seizure triggers.
Cannabinoids synthesized by the body, or endocannabinoids, have demonstrated in studies to play a role in the regulation of seizure threshold and intensity. These findings suggest that cannabis-derived cannabinoids, which interact with the endocannabinoid system’s cannabinoid receptors, may also hold therapeutic potential for managing seizure activity.
The Endocannabinoid System
I know that a lot of you are scratching your head right now. "What is the endocannabinoid system?"
Have you ever wondered how cannabinoids interact with your body? The answer is through the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is responsible for regulating balance in our body’s immune response, communication between cells, appetite and metabolism, memory, and more. In spite of the gigantic importance the ECS takes place, it remains unknown in the educational school system and in traditional medical health care.
How Does Our ECS Work?
The endocannabinoid system is activated and begins to respond accordingly by synthesizing endocannabinoids, which act as neurotransmitters. When the body creates neurotransmitters for the endocannabinoid system, they are picked up by specialized cannabinoid receptors, which sit on the surface of cells. These receptors are found in a wide range of physiological regions, such as:
• The immune system
• Organs and glands
• Connective tissue
• The brain (most significantly)
Endocannabinoids interact with these receptors and transmit information about changing conditions to kick-start a response. Similarly the process reacts like a key fits into a lock, with the goal of helping the body achieve homeostasis, or equilibrium, within the body.
The endocannabinoid system’s receptor sites include CB1 and CB2 receptor variants, which respond differently to various cannabinoids. CB1 receptors are most prevalent in the central nervous system and are linked to the following benefits:
• Modulation of stress and anxiety
• Increased appetite
• Decreased nausea
• A balanced immune system
• Inhibition of tumors
While CB2 receptors are found mostly on cells in the immune system and seem to dominate in fighting inflammation and damage to tissue. Some cells can even contain both types of receptors, each responsible for a different function.
In addition, your ECS is strong robust system you'll need to take care to nourish. Whether your a patient with epilepsy or not, it's important to have a balanced system. This is why cannabis medical alert designs easy and secure cannabis necklaces to ensure your medical information is safe where ever you go.
When you personally engrave your medical information from the number of CBD doses to the type of strains you use, first respondents are able to find your necklace ID and give you the treatment you need, especially if an oncoming seizure suddenly takes place. In any medical emergency it's important to keep you safe, because that's what ultimately matters. Your endocannabinoid system is counting on your safety.
Strains For Epilepsy Patients
Now you know how cannabinoids react inside your body. But which strains are really used to treat epilepsy? Well, a selection of cannabinoids like CBD included effectively target epileptic seizures. By discovering and isolating these cannabinoids, growers have been able to provide families and patients with marijuana strains for their epilepsy. The cannabinoids that target epilepsy and seizures include:
• Cannabinol (CBN)
• Tetrahydrocannabinol — Acid (THCA)
• Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV)
Other available marijuana strains that treat seizures and epilepsy include:
• Bedford Glue
• Larry Bird Kush
• Grapefruit Kush
• Black Bubba
Strains like GI001 offer low amounts of THC, while the Bedford Glue strain contains a THC over 20 percent, but without debilitating effects. Athabasca also contains enough THC to create a mild psychoactive effect that’s helped some patients with epilepsy.
“What’s The Right Dose For Me?”
One of the challenges in using medical marijuana for seizures is the fact that a disease like epilepsy isn’t a one-size-fits-all disorder. Also, not all cannabidiol is created equal, so if you ask “What is the right dose for me?”
The right answer is, you should always start slow from one drop a day and slowly increase the dose up until your body starts receiving the healing effects.
Along with finding the right dose you need to use for your epilepsy, it's also best to keep a medical marijuana necklace ID with you at all times. Your personal medical information will help first respondents find the best treatment you need even when you can't communicate it yourself.
Any epileptic individual will feel safer knowing their medical information is with them to secure their future. It's true these ID's are not an end all cure, but they sure can secure future medical emergencies for you and your loved ones.
If you feel compelled about sharing this article to many of your friends then please do so. Moreover, if you wanted to ask any question or simply comment about epilepsy in the comments below then your more than welcome to!
Want to learn more? Stay updated on the latest cannabis research from our Medical Cannabis Blog by signing up here.