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Using Medical Marijuana to Treat Epilepsy

Medical marijuana is a safe, effective, and – in some forms – FDA-approved treatment method for epilepsy.

Of the many conditions that medical marijuana can help to treat, epilepsy is perhaps the most promising. Medical marijuana has been found to suppress certain types of epileptic seizures, giving people living with epilepsy the opportunity for a better quality of life. In fact, the only medical marijuana treatment that’s been approved to date by the FDA is one for epilepsy.

Using Medical Cannabis to Treat Epilepsy

Cannabidiol (CBD), found naturally in medical marijuana and in the human body, interacts with receptors in the brain to alter brain chemistry in a way that reduces a patient’s chance of seizure. By helping to suppress seizures, researchers have found that CBD can be highly beneficial to epilepsy patients, especially those for whom other treatments haven’t been effective.

The FDA agrees with these findings. In June 2018, an oral CBD solution called Epidiolex was approved for treatment of two forms of epilepsy, Lennox–Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. Both syndromes are rare, severe, childhood-onset, and often treatment-resistant—until now. A daily dose of CBD has been shown to be both effective and safe for patients two and older and particularly beneficial to patients whose epilepsy did not respond to or was difficult to control with other forms of treatment. In clinical trials, Epidiolex was found to be twice as effective as the placebo.

The Future of Epilepsy Treatment with Medical Marijuana

As with any condition where medical marijuana treatment is promising, more studies are still needed. Further research will give patients and medical professionals alike more information about the effectiveness of medical marijuana in treating generalized epilepsy and other forms of epilepsy that affect Ohioans.

The benefits of medical marijuana treatment for epilepsy are not unlimited. Side effects can include tiredness, decreased appetite, diarrhea, and poor sleep, and there may be some forms of epilepsy for which medical treatment is not effective. Small clinical trials conducted so far have not found any effect for patients with focal epilepsy—a form of epilepsy where seizures original in one side of the brain—but again, more studies are needed.

The FDA’s approval of CBD oil for the treatment of epilepsy was a huge step forward for both medical marijuana treatment and for patients living with treatment-resistant forms of epilepsy, offering them a safe, effective form of treatment as well as a feeling of hope. To find out if medical marijuana treatment can help alleviate your epilepsy symptoms, schedule a consultation with Lakewood Medical Center today.