How Does Cannabis Treat Epilepsy?

Photo Credit: Whaxy

Photo Credit: Whaxy

There is a lot of research and anecdotal evidence supporting the use of cannabis for treating epilepsy. Even the Epilepsy Foundation supports its use under physician-directed care. Now, Whaxy dives in to explain just how the plant is able to do so. 

The use of cannabis for treating epilepsy is nothing new. In fact, it is thought to have been used in ancient societies for the treatment of seizure disorders. Cannabis is known to have neuroprotective benefits and anticonvulsant properties.

In order to understand how cannabis can combat epilepsy and other seizure disorders, it is important to understand seizures themselves. Seizures involve involuntary muscle spasms or convulsions. Seizures can have a variety of triggers, and are categorized into 6 different types: absence, myoclonic, clonic, tonic, atonic, and grand mal. 

There are currently various pharmaceutical medications for treating epilepsy, but they are often ineffective and accompanied by a never-ending list of negative side effects. For instances where pharmaceutical anticonvulsants fail, CBD has been found to be extremely effective. That being said, because of the entourage effect among the cannabinoids in marijuana, CBD is much more effective when it is not isolated.

A study conducted at the Virginia Commonwealth University in 2003 under lead researcher Dr. Robert DeLorenzo was able to discover how cannabinoids were able to provide therapeutic benefits that conventional pharmaceutical treatments could not. The study found cannabinoids were able to decrease seizures by activating one of the brain's CB1 receptors, which are found in the nervous system and the memory-related areas of the brain. DeLorenzo said, "...It shows not only the anticonvulsant activity of exogenously applied cannabinoids, but also suggests that the brain’s cannabinoid system works to limit seizure duration by activating the CB1 receptor... Ingredients in marijuana and the cannabinoid receptor protein produced naturally in the body to regulate the central nervous system and other bodily functions play a critical role in controlling spontaneous seizures in epilepsy.”

You can learn more about the history of cannabis use for treating epilepsy and specific anecdotal testimonies and studies by reading Whaxy's in depth article here