CBD oil for epilepsy

Epilepsy is not a single disease, but a group of chronic neurological diseases characterised by epileptic seizures. Approximately 65 million people worldwide suffer from epilepsy, i.e. approx. 1% of the population. In Poland, however, about 400 000 people suffer from epilepsy. As many as 20% suffer from drug-resistant epilepsy. The cause in 60% patients is unknown. So many statistics. What is epilepsy? Can it be cured? Is the use of CBD oil for epilepsy effective? All this is discussed below.

Epilepsy, or epilepsy, is not a single disease, it is a group of chronic neurological diseases characterised by epileptic seizures. Approximately 65 million people worldwide suffer from epilepsy, that is approx. 1% of the population. In Poland, however, around 400 000 people suffer from epilepsy. As many as 20% patients suffer from drug-resistant epilepsy. The cause in 60% patients is unknown. So much for a handful of statistics. But what is epilepsy? Can it be cured? Is the use of CBD oils for epilepsy effective? All this is discussed below.

What is epilepsy and where does it come from

Epilepsy is a brain disease, a chronic condition that manifests itself by repeated epileptic seizures. Although diagnostic methods are at a very high level in the modern world, the cause of epilepsy cannot be determined in the majority of patients. 

If the cause of the disease can be established, it varies in different age groups. Thus, epilepsy in children is primarily the result of congenital abnormalities, e.g. brain malformations, infectious diseases during pregnancy or damage caused during birth. In adults, on the other hand, causes can be brain tumours and injuries, meningitis or encephalitis. In patients over 65 years of age, the cause can be a stroke or degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease.

Symptoms of epilepsy

The characteristic symptoms of epilepsy are epileptic seizures. They appear with different frequency, vary in severity and look different. The reason we most often equate it with convulsions, or what is known as a grand mal (tonic-clonic) seizure, is because these symptoms are extremely expressive. The patient falls, loses consciousness, his body contorts, then gets convulsions, drooling. Sometimes he bites his tongue and sometimes urinates. Such a seizure lasts 2-3 minutes, sometimes several tens of seconds. When it is over, the person feels tired and may have headaches and muscle aches. But, in fact, in most patients the seizures do not look like this. 

These may include myoclonic seizures. These involve twitching of the upper limbs, rarely the lower limbs. There is no loss of consciousness, but the patient e.g. drops a glass held in the hand, sometimes falls. This type of seizure usually occurs just after waking up or after exposure to bright light. 

Yet another type of epileptic seizure is simply a temporary loss of contact with the environment. These are known as unconscious seizures, which most often happen to children. The patient stands still for a moment, as if suspended. Then, after a few seconds or so, he or she returns to the activity interrupted by the attack. If the seizure is partially complex, it lasts slightly longer, 2-3 minutes. The person's eyes are open, and so called automatisms often occur, i.e. swallowing saliva, plucking clothes, smacking, undoing buttons. 

And precisely because epileptic symptoms are so radically different, diagnosing epilepsy is not at all straightforward. 

Treatment of epilepsy

Epilepsy is primarily treated by administering anti-epileptic drugs. In some cases, one is enough, but when this does not work and epileptic seizures are not reduced, then a second drug is gradually introduced. Patients who take medication should have blood tests every six months, the most important being blood count and liver tests. Drug treatment of epilepsy works so plus or minus in 10% patients. Those on whom medication does not work may undergo surgery on brain tissue. In quite a number of patients, this method produces satisfactory results, as the frequency of seizures is reduced, although they cannot be completely eliminated.

There is also a new method involving stimulation of the vagus nerve via a stimulator implanted below the left clavicle. In Poland, unfortunately, the method is not reimbursed, and as it is expensive, it is very poorly accessible.

CBD in the treatment of epilepsy - a historical overview
As early as 1949, when therapeutic cannabinoids were administered to five patients, it was already known that they had great therapeutic potential. Unfortunately, the drug wars of the time meant that all cannabis products were generally banned, thus depriving millions of people over the years of the opportunity to be treated with this method. And the results of these first studies were extremely promising. In fact, three out of five patients found that cannabis had comparable effects to drugs, with one patient's seizures almost disappearing and one patient's seizures completely disappearing.
We had to wait until 1973, when the results of animal studies showed that CBD was more effective in treating epilepsy than the drugs used at the time. The spectacular, almost complete cure by cannabinoids extracted from Charlotte Fig's specially bred hemp was a real sensation at the time. This cannabis (named Charlotte's Web) had as much as 15-20% of CBD in it, while having only 0.3% of THC (only that much THC was allowed by US law). Charlotte's story and that of the other children were featured in the 2013 film 'Weed. "Weed", which contributed significantly to people's awareness that cannabis is not only a high, but also an invaluable aid in the treatment of epilepsy, especially drug-resistant epilepsy. There has also been a huge increase in interest in CBD, a cannabinoid that has no psychoactive effects.
In contrast, 2018 has already seen a real breakthrough, as the FDA approves a drug containing CBD as the sole active substance. Already in the next year, this drug is approved by the European Union. This drug is Epidiolex. This pharmacological agent is recommended for the most severe forms of epilepsy, i.e. for patients suffering from Dravet syndrome, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and also tuberous sclerosis syndrome.
How CBD works for epilepsy

How does CBD work on epilepsy? The answer is, as with most questions about cannabis - it is not known exactly. Scientists suspect that it affects the receptor system (CB1 and CB2) and the neurotransmitters that make up the the endocannabinoid systemwhich is located in the body. This system is responsible for keeping the body in balance, reacting to any deviations from the norm and regulating various bodily functions (e.g. pain, inflammation, sleep, appetite). The results say that it is CBD interacting with endocannabinoid receptors that has the ability to regulate these functions. Animal studies have been performed and it appears that the anticonvulsant effect of CBD is determined by a reduction in neuronal excitability through its interaction with GPR55 and TRPV1 receptors.

It is hard to believe that with so many indications of the positive effects of CBD in the treatment of epilepsy, there is still so little research on cannabidiol in the context of epilepsy. Even so, against the backdrop of research into CBD's other properties, research into the treatment of epilepsy looks overly impressive.

CBD oil for epilepsy

CBD oils in the context of the treatment of various have already been quite well researched. At the National Institutes of Health in the United States alone, more than a thousand studies on cannabidiol and its properties have been conducted since 2013. Its positive effects on epilepsy sufferers already seem to be indisputable. The use of CBD in the treatment of epilepsy is also recommended by the British Association of Paediatric Neurologists.

Indeed, research shows that the use of CBD causes a reduction in seizures that occur with specific types of epilepsy. We are talking about Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut syndromes. These are syndromes that affect children. In the first case, they appear shortly after birth and it is a very severe type of condition. The second, on the other hand, occurs between the child's 1st and 8th year of life. 

These particular ones were carried out using three double-blind studies (neither the patient nor the doctor knew whether cannabidiol or placebo was being administered). In the majority of children using CBD oil relief of disease symptoms was observed. 

Not only does CBD already offer hope for an effective treatment for epilepsy, there is already evidence of this. 

However, it should be remembered that the use of cannabidiol should be done in close cooperation with a doctor. This is because its use may cause side effects.

CBD oil for epilepsy - side effects and precautions

Very high doses of cannabidiol (5-50 mg/kg body weight/day) are used to treat epilepsy. This results in the appearance of side effects, obviously not in every patient and not all at once. Some patients experience drowsiness, sometimes diarrhoea, appetite disturbances, leading to weight loss. 

These activities, as you can see, are not particularly hazardous to health. 

On the other hand, attention should be drawn to the fact that CBD can affect the metabolism of ingested drugs. And either delay or accelerate their absorption by the body. Therefore, it is very important to use CBD oils strictly according to your doctor's instructions.


  1. Epilepsy - Wikipedia; https://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Padaczka
  2. "FDA Approves First Drug Comprised of an Active Ingredient Derived from Marijuana to Treat Rare, Severe Forms of Epilepsy"; 2018. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-first-drug-comprised-active-ingredient-derived-marijuana-treat-rare-severe-forms
  3. "Use of Cannabidiol in the Treatment of Epilepsy: Efficacy and Security in Clinical Trials"; authors: S. Silvestro, S. Mammana, E. Cavalli, P. Bramanti, E. Mazzon; 2019; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6514832/
  4. "Current status and prospects for the use of cannabinoids as active medicinal substances"; authors: A. Krause, M. Milewski, K. Wielgus, M. Szalata, R. Slomski, J. Cielecka-Piontek, 2016. 


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