Is cannabis really effective as a medical treatment? According to a survey by the California Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 92 percent of patients say that medical marijuana alleviates different symptoms that result from their serious health problems, which include migraine, chronic pain, and even cancer.
Cannabis is also gaining appeal as a treatment for seizures, which are a very common but quite complex health problem. In fact it is estimated that one in every twenty-six Americans will experience a recurring seizure during their lifetime.
Here are four important things you need to know about cannabis and whether it can indeed help treat seizures.
Cannabis and the Endocannabinoid System
To understand how marijuana helps treat various health conditions, one has to understand its relationship with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) found in the human body. The ECS is responsible for maintaining the body’s homeostasis, or the balance of the different physiological functions responsible for immune responses, metabolism, blood pressure, and more.
The ECS needs cannabinoid receptors in order for it to work and maintain the body’s balance. Cannabinoid receptors send signals that will trigger the appropriate cellular responses whenever the body experiences imbalances or changing cellular conditions.
Cannabidiol for Controlling Seizures
Cannabis contains more than one hundred biologically active compounds known as cannabinoids. The two most popular of these are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is notable for causing the high that cannabis is well-known for, and it is the one that is commonly detected in various drug tests, like blood, urine, and even hair follicle drug tests.
On the other hand, CBD has gained popularity over the years because of its many medical benefits, one of which is its anticonvulsant properties. Sixteen US states have specific laws that allow the use of CBD to treat seizures.
CBD and Dravet Syndrome
The New England Journal of Medicine published a study that showed a positive link between cannabidiol and seizure reduction. The study focused on 120 children and teenagers who were diagnosed with a rare epileptic disorder known as Dravet syndrome. Participants were divided into two groups, and one group received CBD while the second group got a placebo.
During the course of fourteen weeks, the participants who were given the CBD experienced a significant reduction in their seizures. Specifically, the children who received CBD only experienced an average of 5.9 seizures per month, a significant drop from the previous figure, which was 12.4 seizures per month.
On the other hand, the placebo group showed minimal results. The participants who received the placebo experienced 14.1 seizures, from 14.9.
How CBD Helped Charlotte Figi
A little girl named Charlotte Figi is one of the reasons cannabidiol has gained appeal as a possible treatment for seizure. By the age of three, Charlotte suffered from hundreds of seizures per month despite numerous drugs and treatments. Her parents finally decided to treat her with cannabidiol, and for the first time in years, Charlotte saw a dramatic improvement in her health.
Charlotte’s seizures were significantly reduced from hundreds per month to only two or three per month and almost only while she slept. As word of the young girl’s dramatic recovery spread, more families turned to CBD as a way to treat seizures.
There is still much to go in terms of fully understanding the medical benefits of cannabis, but many recent studies as well as widespread anecdotal evidence are establishing CBD as a safe and viable treatment for seizures.