Can Marijuana Cure Epileptic Seizures?

Perhaps you’ve seen a news clip such as CNN’s report about Charlotte Figi, or you caught a rerun of this episode of the Thom Hartmann radio show, about how patients tried everything to get rid of their seizures, and nothing worked — or even worse, the side effects made life even more dramatically hard than it already was with seizures. Until they tried CBD cannabis, that is. And now they’ve been seizure-free for years. These case studies provide hope for those living with epilepsy, which , according to CURE, or Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy, the figures are an “estimated 3 million Americans and 65 million people worldwide.”

Yet, as with much cannabis research, data is sparse because marijuana legalization has only recently started to take hold — at writing time, about half of the states in the US have legalized it for medical purposes. Even though relief from seizures might come only from CBD, and not THC — the psychotrophic (or “high” inducing) cannabis, since the US does not differentiate between types of cannabis use for legal reasons, if it’s cannabis, it’s ruled out. But epilepsy’s anecdotal successes are so clear that they became known as the “poster child” for medical marijuana. If an adult or child who has suffered seizures for years, but starts to use cannabis as a cure and immediately has no more suffering, the results do not seem coincidental.

The Epilepsy Foundation, an advocacy organization, toggles the line by stating that cannabis solutions should be pursued only if conventional medicines are unhelpful. Its stance references one study (presented at the Academy of Neurology, April 22, 2015, Washington DC) based on data from 137 subjects who used a pharmaceutical drug containing CBD, called Epidiolex. The study found that taking Epidiolex reduced the number of seizures for most people, and only 14 subjects (i.e. around 10%) withdrew due to the drug not affecting them. On the one hand, the Epilepsy Foundation encourages more large-scale research because this study was done on a small sample of people, and only looked at one drug. On the other hand, the Foundation outright advocates for cannabis’s legal use for medical solutions to epilepsy, as stated: “If a patient and their healthcare professionals feel that the potential benefits of medical cannabis for uncontrolled epilepsy outweigh the risks, then families need to have that legal option. Nothing should stand in the way of patients gaining access to this potentially lifesaving treatment.”

Since small-scale studies and anecdotal evidence can be indicative of larger-scale cure success rates, we encourage anyone suffering from epilepsy to seek out medical cannabis as an option. At present, this might mean moving states to live in an area where medical marijuana is legal. Is this not worth it?

If you would like to read Medical Marijuana’s report on epilepsy, including references to studies on medical marijuana’s effects, as well as a list of best strains to treat epilepsy/seizure disorders, click here.

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