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How Medical Marijuana Can Help with Epilepsy

Medical marijuana has been becoming more popular and legalized in places across the world. Studies are constantly being done on how it can help people with certain ailments and conditions. One of those conditions that has been highly studied in just the last few years is epilepsy. So how does marijuana help control it? Well keep reading and you'll find out.

Originally posted on 9th August 2018, Updated on 29th January 2019 

What is epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a condition that affects the way the brain functions. The brain is a hub of electric activity and the cells in the body are constantly sending messages to the brain. Likewise, brain cells are also always sending messages to each other. But while this activity is ongoing, when there is too much of it, it can cause a disruption in how the brain works. When this occurs, the person affected often has an epileptic seizure.

cannabis for epilepsy

Seizures work differently in everyone, due to the complexity of the brain and the fact that it depends on what part of the brain is affected. While some suffering from a seizure may sit blankly and be completely unaware of what’s going on around them. Others may be fully aware and remain conscious. Signs of a seizure include when a person goes completely stiff, falls to the floor, and parts of their body, particularly their arms and legs, jerk uncontrollably.

Regardless of the symptoms, epilepsy is a condition that can make it very difficult for a person to function. Even those who are aware they are having a seizure are typically unable to accomplish other tasks during it. This means that those prone to epileptic seizures cannot drive. Or even accomplish some daily tasks on their own.

Unfortunately, this happens to too many people. It’s been estimated that approximately 600,000 people in the UK suffer from epilepsy. Which is almost 1 in 100 people. And each day, 87 more people in the UK are diagnosed with epilepsy.

Although the condition is extremely common, doctors and researchers are still unsure as to why some people suffer from epileptic seizures. It is known that it’s typically caused by trauma or damage to the brain. This is often caused by a stroke, a brain tumor, a severe head injury, or drug or alcohol abuse. Birth injuries, such as being deprived of oxygen at birth, have also been linked to epilepsy cases.

How does marijuana help epilepsy?

While there has been research done on how medical marijuana can help, no one is sure exactly how it does. It’s believed that the cannabinoids, specifically CBD, help to reduce the electrical signals in the brain. Resulting in a person having fewer seizures.

This was largely shown in a U.S. study that focused on Epidiolex, a plant-based formula of CBD. Researchers took two groups of participants and gave one of them Epidiolex and the other a placebo. The participants were then studied for six months to one year. The group taking the Epidiolex were found to have much fewer seizures within the time of the study.

Cannabis Oil for epilepsy

Other than study results, there are more real life stories emerging from people who have taken medical marijuana and found success with it.

Billy Caldwell, an eleven-year-old boy from Northern Ireland, was one of the first in the U.K. to receive medical marijuana for his epilepsy. After experiencing up to 100 seizures a day, his mother obtained CBD oil from the United States. Billy and his family noticed the number of seizures he experienced were reduced considerably. After 300 days of taking the CBD oil, his seizures had stopped completely. His mother also stated that the oil was also helping his autism.

However, this does not mean that any strain of cannabis is going to help someone suffering from epilepsy. When searching for the strain that’s right for them, patients must consider exactly what they’re taking and if it’s going to help them with their condition.

Strictly speaking, marijuana strains high in THC should never be used to help treat the condition. This is because THC is psychoactive, and could further interfere with the brain’s signals. Even increasing the electric activity occurring within the brain. Instead, only strains high in CBD should be used, and is more effective when taken in oil form. This is because smoking is considered to be one of the riskiest ways to use marijuana. Using a CBD oil that is vaporized, or taken orally is much safer.

CBD oil, or strains high in CBD, should only be taken as a supplement, to the medication they are already taking for the condition. While CBD will not have the side effects of these same medications, discontinuing any medication before speaking to a doctor can actually cause some people to experience even more seizures. And, in all the research and studies that have been done, recipients took CBD in addition to the medication they were already taking.

So, knowing all this, what are the best marijuana strains when trying to treat epilepsy?

Best strains for epilepsy

cbd oil for epilepsy

As has already been stated, only marijuana high in CBD should be used to treat epilepsy. With that in mind, all of the following strains are high in CBD while being low in its psychoactive counterpart, THC.

The best, high-CBD strains for treating epilepsy are:

  • Harlequin
  • Ringo’s Gift
  • Sweet and Sour Widow
  • Stephen Hawking Kush
  • ACDC
  • Cannatonic
  • Harle-Tsu
  • Canna-Tsu
  • Sour Tsunami
  • Pennywise

Epilepsy can be a debilitating condition. While it mainly affects children and those over the age of 60, anyone can start experiencing it at any time in their life. While there may not currently be any cure for the condition, there is high-CBD cannabis that can make it easier to cope with it.

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