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Cannabis for Patients With Epilepsy

cannabis and epilepsy research

Medical Marijuana has become a trusted, natural alternative for patients with epilepsy. More cannabis-based treatments are emerging as promising approaches to improving seizure control in patients with difficult-to-treat epilepsy.

If you live in a state where you have access to medical marijuana, booking an appointment with a Qualified Medical Marijuana Physician is the best first step to take. At your appointment, you will be able to discuss new research findings and how cannabis medicines can help improve your or your loved ones’ seizure activity.

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Cannabis & Epilepsy

Epilepsy is considered to be one of the most common non-communicable neurological diseases. Approximately one-third of patients with epilepsy have seizures that are resistant to traditional antiepileptic medications. Studies have been done on cannabis’s potential to help manage seizures for years.

In 2018, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of a prescription cannabidiol-based medicine, EPIDOLEX, to treat two rare types of treatment-resistance epilepsy that predominantly affect children, Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome.

Early evidence from laboratory studies, smaller clinical studies, and anecdotal reports over several years suggest that cannabidiol (CBD) could potentially help control seizures. Federal regulations and limited access to CBD mean research has been challenging and takes much longer to complete than traditional research studies. In recent years, several studies have shown the benefit of certain plant-based CBD products in treating specific groups of people with epilepsy who have not responded to traditional therapies.

What the Latest Research is Saying

Since more and more states are approving cannabis for both medical and adult-use purposes, the stigma against it is beginning to fade away, opening more research opportunities than before. In addition to those studies in the US, many other countries have conducted their own research.

A few years ago, in 2017, Devinsky et al. did a study on 120 patients with epilepsy. For 14 weeks, 61 patients were in the CBD group, and 59 were given placebos. Of those in the CBD group, 43% had a decrease in seizure frequency, and 5% were completely seizure-free.

In June of 2022, a world-first Phase 2A trial published in the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at the safety of transdermal CBD gel in adults with focal epilepsy. Focal epilepsy is the most common form of epilepsy in adults, affecting 60% of patients, and is treatment-resistant in one-third of patients.

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This study was conducted across 14 epilepsy trial centers in Australia and New Zealand. It found that using CBD oil in skin patches was safe, well tolerated, and accepted by patients.

In the first 12 weeks, patients did not see a difference in seizure frequency, but by month six, there was a reduction in seizures by at least 50% in more than half of the participating patients.

A Second Important Research Study About Cannabis and Epilepsy

Another study in Tel Aviv, Israel, in 2022 demonstrated that adults with treatment-resistant focal epilepsy responded favorably to using plant-derived CBD-dominant cannabis extracts. Of those who maintained a cannabis-treatment regimen for at least three months, 80 percent experienced a greater than 50 percent reduction in seizure frequency at 12 weeks. Additionally, only a small number of patients reported any side effects.

Israeli data published in June 2022 similarly reported that children with refractory forms of epilepsy experience significant reductions in seizure frequency following the long-term use of plant-derived CBD extracts.

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Accessing Plant-Derived CBD Products for Patients With Epilepsy

There are a couple of options to obtain plant-derived CBD products to help manage seizure activity in epileptic patients.

In 2018, the U.S. Congress signed the Agriculture Improvement Act into law. This removed hemp from the federal Controlled Substances Act, effectively legalizing CBD if it comes from hemp. As a result, there has been plenty of hemp-derived CBD flooding the market; however, there aren’t established regulations on hemp CBD, which means a lot of it is falsely labeled and not lab-tested.

Clinical Grade CBD Products from DocMJ

DOC-CBD is a research-backed plant-derived CBD line available in various methods of administration. Its patented technology, nextCBD™, has a proven shelf life of 2 years and is pre-clinically proven to increase the absorption 18 to 22 times greater into the bloodstream when compared to conventional CBD. You can find the different options available here.

Visiting a qualified medical marijuana doctor to gain access to state-approved dispensaries is another great way to get the guidance you need on dosing and access to a broader range of CBD and THC products.