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The CULTA Blog

Cannabis Oil for Epilepsy: A Look at the Studies

Cannabis, and subsequently cannabis oil, has many health benefits. For a lot of patients, medicinal cannabis may provide relief when traditional forms of medicine aren't effective. In Maryland, the Maryland Medicinal Cannabis Commission (MMCC) designates several conditions as qualifying for cannabis treatment, including eating disorders, PTSD, and seizure disorders such as epilepsy.

In fact, cannabis and cannabis oil are gaining acclaim in the medical community as a highly effective treatment for epilepsy patients. Using cannabis oil helps many people control their seizures. Many patients use CBD oil, specifically, because it offers relief from epilepsy symptoms without any psychoactive effects. 

Although researchers aren’t completely sure how cannabis oil prevents and controls seizures, they’re beginning to understand the complex science behind cannabis oil and epilepsy. Multiple studies show that cannabis oil is a real treatment for seizures, not just a placebo. 

Let’s take a closer look at some of the studies examining cannabis oil and epilepsy.

Lennox-Gastaut syndrome study

Lennox-Gastaut syndrome is a type of epilepsy that affects children. Approximately 2-5% of childhood seizure conditions are caused by this syndrome. To date, there have been two clinical trials looking at the effectiveness of a CBD pharmaceutical drug called Epidiolex to treat Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.

Over the course of 14 weeks, each study found promising results for the non-placebo group. In the first study, half of the participants taking Epidiolex experienced a 44% reduction in seizures. This is compared to the placebo group, where half of participants experience only 22% fewer seizures.

In the second Epidiolex study, researchers compared dosages. One group was administered the drug at 10mg per kilogram, while another group was given a 20mg dose (and the third group received a placebo). Both groups of participants who received Epidiolex experienced fewer seizures than the placebo group. The 10mg group experienced a 37% percent reduction, while the 20mg group experienced 42% fewer seizures.

Dravet syndrome

Another research study focused on using cannabis to treat a condition called Dravet syndrome. Although rare, Dravet syndrome is a difficult condition for patients to manage because the seizures do not respond well to traditional medication. The clinical trial involving Epidolex involved Dravet syndrome patients ages 2 through 18. 

In the study, participants were given 20mg per kilogram of Epidolex or a placebo. At the end of the trial, they determined that patients given Epidiolex saw a 39% decrease in seizures compared to a 13% drop among the placebo group.

Tuberous sclerosis complex

Tuberous sclerosis complex occurs in approximately 1 out of 6000 people. In the condition, which is a genetic disorder, noncancerous tumors may form in the brain and lead to seizures. 

One study used Epidolex and a placebo, administered to 148 patients suffering from tuberous sclerosis complex. The Epidolex group experienced a 48% improvement in their condition, while the placebo group only improved by 24%.

Cannabis oil and other seizure disorders

Additional research about cannabis oil and seizure disorders remains ongoing. Scientists believe that cannabis helps alleviate epilepsy symptoms because it activates the receptors in the endocannabinoid system, specifically reducing neuron excitability in two receptor groups called TRPV1 and GPR55 that may be responsible for seizures.

Outside of the studies involving the Epidiolex cannabis drug, research indicates that using cannabis oil or CBD products may enhance the efficacy of other anti-seizure medications. One 2018 study found that epileptic patients using CBD dropped from approximately 58.4 seizures per month to 22.5 seizures per month after using CBD for 12 weeks.

Using cannabis oil for epilepsy

If you or someone you love has epilepsy or another condition that causes seizure, cannabis oil may help. Begin by researching the laws around medical cannabis in your state. If you live in Maryland, you can qualify for medicinal cannabis by applying for a medical card. 

Once approved for medicinal cannabis, talk to your doctor. Make sure that cannabis oil or CBD products won’t cause a negative interaction with any medications you’re already taking. In some rare cases, some patients have reported that taking CBD increased their seizures. Your doctor can help monitor your health and determine the correct dosage and frequency for your cannabis use.

In general, CBD does not cause impairment. However, patients may experience some side effects while taking CBD for epilepsy, especially if you’re new to CBD and your body doesn’t know how to react. The most common reported side effects are drowsiness, loss of appetite, and diarrhea. Don’t drive or operate heavy machinery until you know how CBD affects you.

It’s also recommended to get your medicinal cannabis oil products from a licensed dispensary. Many CBD products are not regulated by the FDA, so the quality may vary. By purchasing from a dispensary like CULTA, you’ll be able to guarantee the quality and ingredients in your CBD and cannabis oil products.