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How CBD Can Reduce Epilepsy Symptoms

How CBD Can Reduce Epilepsy Symptoms

 In 2013 Charlotte Figi changed the discourse on medical marijuana and CBD forever. Charlotte was born in 2006 and suffered from a severe case of Dravet syndrome, a form of epilepsy. At one point she was suffering from around 1,200 seizures a month, making her quality of life almost unbearable. Her parents were beginning to despair for the wellbeing of their daughter, when they eventually decided to try medical marijuana - after trying all other available options. This was so effective that her seizures dropped to three times a month, allowing a much more normal life and childhood. A special strain was created which was high in CBD (which was the effective component) and extremely low in THC (meaning it could not induce a high) - this is called Charlotte’s Web.

According to the Epilepsy Foundation, epilepsy is the fourth most common neurological disorder. The main symptoms of epilepsy are seizures, which can vary in frequency, scope, and severity. Epilepsy is a lifelong condition, but the frequency of seizures may vary from daily to annually. Seizures are a result of dysfunctional electrical activity in the brain, and while this can start anywhere in the brain, it can also spread anywhere in the brain. The further the spread, the more severe the seizure. The seizure can physically affect the whole body or just a part, e.g. a limb.

There are three types of epilepsy:

  1. Focal onset - where the abnormal electrical activity is experienced in a specific region of the brain.
  2. Generalised onset - where the abnormal electrical activity is experienced in both sides of the brain, resulting in more severe and widespread effects for the body.
  3. Unknown onset -this is the most challenging type as the source is unidentifiable, the treatment course is much more challenging.

So why do seizures occur? The brain is built up of neurons which are purposed to transfer messages throughout the brain and body, through electrical impulses. For this to be effective, the neurons need to act together in some kind of order. If you think about a large meeting, nothing will be communicated if everybody speaks at once. But this is exactly what happens during a seizure; a large group of neurons will send messages simultaneously, which is known as hyper-synchrony. This disrupts brain functionality and can spike changes in taste, vision, sound, smell, language, movement, emotion, and consciousness.

Although it hasn’t been fully established how, extensive research has shown that CBD has a dramatic effect in reducing epileptic seizures. A meta-analysis took 670 people with varying cases of epilepsy and gave them full spectrum CBD over the course of a year. At the end of the observation 40% of participants saw their seizures halved, a quarter had a 70% drop, and 10% were seizure free by the end.

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