Medical Marijuana and Epilepsy

Photo Credit: Leaf Science/ShutterStock

Photo Credit: Leaf Science/ShutterStock

There is growing evidence suggesting medical marijuana could be a powerful agent in combatting epilepsy, even in its most severe and treatment-resistant forms, and its symptoms. Marijuana acts as an anticonvulsant, and produces antiepileptic effects through its interactions with both the CB1 and CB2 receptors. In recent years, GW Pharmaceuticals has been conducting experiments that have proven their pure CBD extract effectively reduces the frequency and severity of seizures in severe treatment-resistant forms of epilepsy.

Most researcher attribute cannabis’ therapeutic effects for epilepsy to the cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD). CBD is a non-psychoactive, making it appropriate for use in pediatric care, and it produces very few mild side effects, like dry mouth, diarrhea, sleepiness, and fatigue. CBD can work on its own or work as a powerful supplement to other epilepsy medications, but it may interfere with the processing of other medications in the liver, so patients who choose to use the medication should research its interactions with other medications before beginning a CBD regimen. There is less information regarding the use of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) for epilepsy, which is a cannabinoid known for its psychocactive activity, and some reports suggest it may exacerbate symptoms. That said, THC may also act as an anticonvulsant, so some researchers think including some amounts of it in one’s regimen may provide optimal relief. In one study, ratios of 20:1 CBD to THC produced maximum seizure relief in patients. More research is needed to better understand which cannabinoids and the amount of each can produce the best relief with the lowest side effects.

This information has been provided by Leaf Science and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.