Why discuss CBD and the role it plays within the realm of neurological disorders? Cannabidiol, otherwise known as CBD, is becoming a household term and one of the biggest contributing factors to this is the success CBD has had with neurological disorders, namely Epilepsy. So, it’s a significant topic in the world of cannabis and health. Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that disrupts normal electrical activity in the brain which then leads to seizures. There are many different kinds of epilepsy and different types of seizures. This disease and its effects can range anywhere from barely noticeable to life threatening. Due to the disruption of normal brain activity the disorder’s effects can extend to the cardiovascular system, nervous system, respiratory system, digestive system, muscular system, and even the reproductive system. In addition, many with epilepsy often develop clinical depression and anxiety. It is most commonly seen in children and older adults, but it can affect anyone at any age. Imagining the physical and emotional toll that this terrible disease has on those afflicted, as well as on their loved ones, is heart wrenching.
Cannabis as a holistic treatment is nothing new, it has been documented for its anti-epileptic effects since 1881 and has been used medicinally throughout history for thousands of years. Today, cannabidiol (CBD), a component of cannabis, has been launched to the forefront of natural medicine. This is largely due to its effects on Epilepsy and its ability to reduce, and in some cases eliminate, the amount and duration of seizures in many patients. CBD possesses anti-convulsant, anti-anxiety, antiemetic, analgesic, immune modulating, neuroprotectant, and anti-tumorigenic properties and in addition to all of this is non-intoxicating. Recent studies have been conducted on the usage of CBD in adjunction with a placebo in patients with Dravet Syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, two forms of childhood epilepsy. In these studies, CBD was found to be far more effective than the placebo in the reduction of convulsive seizures in these patients. Yes, there have been numerous studies on CBD alone and on animals, plus an abundance of anecdotal evidence throughout the years of the beneficial use of CBD for epilepsy. However, what’s distinct about these studies is this is the first time that Class 1 Evidence, a randomized and controlled clinical trial in a representative population, is available.
CBD has been established as a successful natural remedy for many epileptic patients, but there comes the question of, “which form of CBD is best?” In 2017, three Brazilian scientists tackled this question, among other questions, by performing a CBD and epilepsy meta-analysis. They examined the data from observational clinical studies on the treatment of epilepsy with CBD based products; comprising of 11 different studies with a total of 670 patients who were treated for an average of 6 months. The differences between full spectrum CBD-rich extracts and purified CBD, including Epidiolex (a pharmaceutical CBD) which falls into the purified CBD category, were analyzed. 71% of patients using CBD-rich extracts had reduced seizure frequency in comparison to 46% of patients using purified CBD. Roughly 1 in 10 patients became seizure free. Through this analysis we can see that both formulations of CBD have shown to be highly effective when it comes to epilepsy with the full spectrum CBD-rich extracts taking the lead. Furthermore, the studies showed that patients taking the full spectrum CBD-rich extract required a significantly lower dose than those taking purified CBD showing that CBD in a full plant extract was over 4 times more potent than CBD isolated into its purest form. This phenomenon is actually known as the “entourage effect,” the synergistic way in which multiple components of the plant work together to provide greater therapeutic value versus a single component working alone.
Is it a Cure?
It is important to remember that while CBD has shown drastic results in many, it is not a miracle cure. It does not cure epilepsy but rather can help reduce or even eliminate seizures and symptoms. While many patients do remain on conventional medications in conjunction with CBD, there are patients who have been able to ease off of some or even all pharmaceuticals. The benefit being that many traditional epileptic medications have serious side effects including anemia, pancreatitis, and liver failure. CBD is also often turned to by epileptic patients who find they are resistant to traditional medications and therefore must find an alternative method to treat their epilepsy. Cannabis is showing promising results in the world of holistic healing and it’s no wonder so many are turning to it when traditional medications aren’t cutting it. CBD, especially full spectrum plant extracts, and its astounding success with epilepsy is opening up new doors for people of all ages and all walks of life looking to find relief and wellness.