Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Here Is Clinical Evidence That Marijuana Fights Epilepsy

In the ancient world, epilepsy was considered a spiritual condition. Epileptics, so it was thought, had been favored by the gods with a hard-to-define genius.

Anyone who actually experienced the anxious uncertainty of awaiting the next onset of tremors—Will I break 20 today? 50? 100?—or endured the frothing, convulsive terror of a grand mal seizure, however, may be excused for entertaining sacrilegious ideas about what the gods could do with their shitty “favor.”

Today we know that epileptic seizures are caused by disruptions in the brain’s electrical impulses. Now, since the body’s cannabis receptors are densely clustered in parts of the brain that control coordination, it stands to reason that marijuana might help ease epileptic seizures.

Clinical evidence—as with much of the available medical cannabis research, you should assume the caveat what little there is—shows that THC does indeed reduce convulsions. Unfortunately, it can also provoke them. But there is still a promising avenue of cannabis research. Cannabidiol, or CBD, is the less known and even less understood cousin of THC. It’s less fun too, since CBD doesn’t produce the high that THC does. What it can produce, however, is a considerable lessening in epileptic seizures, with almost no side effect

In a 2015 study, the drug Epidiolex, which is 99 percent CBD, decreased seizures by at least 50 percent in slightly more than half the subjects of the 12-week trial. Side effects were quite mild: fatigue in less than a quarter of participants and weight gain in an even smaller proportion.

There is no research on the longterm effects CBD—particularly on kids, who are susceptible to some of the most debilitating and hard to treat forms of epilepsy. But, to be fair, the same caution applies to our current battery of epilepsy medications.

Because of these favorable results, the Epilepsy Foundation considers cannabis a “not unreasonable” option for epilepsy patients who have not found success with standard treatments.


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