In the United States (where Cannabis was first found) people have been using cannabis based medicine to help with epilepsy for centuries. However it isn’t until recently that the scientific world has taken notice of this, and it was only in 2018 that a medicine including cannabis was produced.
The drug, called Epidiolex, is only for severe cases of epilepsy but there is a cautious optimism that the CBD in cannabis might be able to really help those who suffer with epilepsy. This is especially true for the third of people with epilepsy who suffer from refractory epilepsy, which means that traditional drugs do not work anywhere near as well as they should.
Today then we are going to look at what the science says, what CBD is and if it might be able to help.
WHAT IS CBD OIL?
The first thing we should clarify is what CBD oil actually is.
CBD is a chemical called from the family cannabinoids and can be found naturally in the cannabis plant. Both CBD and THC can be found in cannabis, however CBD can’t get you “high”, that is the tetrahydrocannabinol THC, which is also in cannabis products which gives the intoxicating feeling.
There are a lot of cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, but CBD is perhaps the main helpful chemical and one of the most researched. This is because CBD seems to have have a wealth of uses, for example it can help with:
WHAT IS IN CBD OIL?
What is in CBD Oil can depend on a whole host of factors, however there are three main types of CBD oil, each of which will have slightly different ingredients in. They are:
Full Spectrum CBD - This is when as much of the cannabis plant is kept, which means that all the ingredients that can help are in the oil. However this also means that there is some THC (the chemical that makes cannabis intoxicating). There isn’t much, but there will be some.
Broad Spectrum CBD - Most of the cannabis plant is kept in the oil, but all THC is taken out of the oil. This still allows the entourage effect to occur, but means there is no issue with THC.
CBD Isolate - Almost all the ingredients are stripped out of the cannabis plant, leaving only the CBD chemical.
Depending on what type of CBD products you go for then will affect what is in your CBD oil. Here at SMOKO we use broad spectrum, as that way we can be sure you are getting all the goodness out of the cannabis plant without the intoxicating effect.
CBD OIL AND EPILEPSY: WHAT DOES THE EVIDENCE SAY?
Now we know what cannabidiol CBD is, the next question is whether it can help with those who have epilepsy. The short answer is: probably!
The longer answer though is that there is hard evidence that cannabis can help those with severe epilepsy, but as of yet no definitive answer on if CBD oil helps.
Cannabis is already being used as a medicine called Epidiolex to treat seizures and has been approved by the FDA (food and drug administration) and the NHS and has been found to be effective in reducing some seizures in Dravet and Lennox Gastaut syndrome.
They are both a severe form of epilepsy that is quite rare, but can severely affect those who have it.
The main studies on CBD and epilepsy are around the clinical trials for Epidolex. Two 14-week clinical trials examined the effectiveness of Epidolex for treating seizures in people with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.
Firstly they compared the anti-seizure effect of 20mg per kilogram (mg/kg) of Epidolex per day with a placebo.
- ½ of all people who took Epilolex experienced 44% fewer seizures.
- ½ of all people in the placebo group experienced 22% fewer seizures
In the next trail they compared the effects of 10 mg/kg and 20 mg/kg daily doses of Epidolex with a placebo.
- ½ of those who took 20 mg/kg of Epidolex per day experienced 42% fewer seizures.
- ½ of those who took 10 mg/kg per day experienced 37% fewer seizures.
- ½ in the placebo group experienced 17% fewer seizures.
As both clinical trials showed, those who took medical cannabis in the form of Epidolex had an excellent chance of reducing seizure.
Epidolex then is different from CBD oil as it is the full cannabis plant, but almost all of what is in Epidolex will be in CBD oils, so these trails do still support the theory that CBD oil can help.
However there has been a study specifically on CBD oil by the British Paediatric Neurology Association (BNPA) which suggests that CBD helps with epilepsy.
Three double blind studies using pure CBD and placebos (which means even the scientist running the experiment didn’t know who had what) have been carried out on children and teenagers with epilepsy, and all three found that CBD can help.
Lastly, research has suggested that CBD may enhance the effect of the medication clobazam often used to treat epilepsy, with little to no side effects.
IS CBD OIL SAFE TO USE FOR PATIENTS WITH EPILEPSY?
As Cannabis oil products are already being used to treat epilepsy anyway, a more filtered and THC free version in CBD oil will be safe as well.
However CBD isn’t currently a medicine, at the moment they are sold as health food supplements. That means that CBD has to proven to a certain standard, however it hasn’t been tested as a medicine.
If you are already taking medicine CBD can interact with it in unexpected ways. Especially if any of your medication has the “grapefruit” warning you shouldn’t take CBD as well.
In general though CBD is safe to use, however if you are unsure or are using any medication then talk to your doctor first before using anything.
HOW DOES CBD OIL HELP?
Unfortunately there isn’t a clear cut answer to how CBD works, as we don’t really know.
What we do know is that all our bodies contain a system of neurotransmitters and receptors called the endocannabinoid system. The theory is that this system helps regulate functions in your body such as appetite, sleep, and pain, as well as your immune system response amongst other things.
Scientists think that CBD, as a cannabinoid, is very close to the chemicals that are naturally found in the endocannabinoid system, and so can interact and modify these functions.
The science behind how this affects epilepsy is limited, but it seems that the endocannabinoid system has a big effect on when seizures happen, after all that is why the medicine Epidolex works!
WHAT TYPE OF CBD OIL TREATMENT OPTIONS ARE THERE?
If the case is severe then CBD as a treatment option will of course go through a medical professional, however if you are still looking to supplement yourself or don’t use medication then CBD oils might be right for you.
As we mentioned at the beginning of the article, there are 3 main types of CBD to try from. All three have their advantages, but if you want a CBD oil that has as much of the goodness of cannabis, without the THC, then a broad spectrum is your best choice.
Taking out the THC from the cannabis is especially important to those with epilepsy as THC has been indicated in some preliminary trails to cause seizures.
WHAT IS THE RECOMMENDED DOSAGE OF CBD OIL?
As with anything, it is better to find out what your body needs. We suggest starting from a low amount (we start at 500mg) and try that, only working your way up the strengths if you need to. Currently we offer 500mg, 1000mg and 2000mg, which should give you the range to find what works for you.
As CBD oil is new, there is no set standard as of yet, so take your time and find out what works for you.
WHERE CAN YOU PURCHASE PROPER CBD OIL?
As with everything you put into your body, you should always make sure that it is the best quality.
Here at SMOKO we go to great pains to ensure our CBD oil comes from organically grown cannabis sativa L, all of which is grown in the USA and then Made in The UK. And as an added extra our CBD Oral Drops and CBD Gummies are Vegan Friendly and Gluten Free!
IS CBD OIL AN EFFECTIVE TREATMENT FOR EPILEPSY CONCLUSION
Though there is no definitive answer to whether CBD oils are effective, there is a lot of circumstantial proof that CBD can have a great impact on epilepsy. From the science we do have, cannabis and CBD have almost halved the amount of seizures in those with severe forms of epilepsy, which shows that the endocannabinoid system interacts with and can moderate the body.
Of course this is all with the very big caveat that you are not on any medication or have any medical issues that will stop you using CBD!
Our canine friends can suffer from epilepsy, too! Dogs also possess an endocannabinoid system, so if you want to learn more check out our blog article about using CBD oil for dogs!
If you want to give CBD oil a try, SMOKO's UK made CBD has 0% THC and is available as oral drops and edible gummies!