Is CBD Oil Effective In Curbing Epilepsy?

CBD has been making its run across various media platform and countless portals boasting of its phenomenal results. But what is it? CBD or cannabidiol is an herbal alternative which is one in several 100 chemical compounds commonly called as cannabinoids present in the cannabis plant, scientifically called cannabis sativa.

How Is It Made?

The CBD oil is made by extracting CBD from the marijuana plant, and is mixed with a carrier oil such as coconut, olive or hemp seed oil. The use of carrier oil is to basically dilute it further to “carry” the CBD oil. This is then ingested or inhaled.

But, Doesn’t Use Of CBD Make You “High”?

For many recreational users, the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) present in marijuana is a highly psychoactive substance, which gives off a sensation of delusion or a “high” on ingestion or inhalation. However, to the contrary unlike THC, CBD showcases no such effects of delusion whatsoever. According to a report from WHO “in humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential. To date, there is no evidence of persistent health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”

Does CBD Help in Suppressing Epileptic Seizures?

Yes and No. Although fully fledged human trials are yet to be undergone, there has been plenty of research studies conducted in a controlled manner on animal subjects. These studies have proved fruitful showing positive results in controlling seizures. In one of these studies, patients that did not show improvement using traditional therapies have shown considerable boosts in health benefits due to the use of CBD oil.

How Did This Conclusion Come About? What Is This Strain Of CBD Oil Called?

Of the several studies conducted in the United States, one was particularly for its capacity to control epilepsy and seizures. The compound called Epidiolex was the prime focus of these clinical trials. The drug has received an FDA approval as well on June 25, 2018.

Epidiolex, simply put is extremely purified CBD extract from a cannabis plant. It is more than 98% oil based.

What More Can Be Said About The Clinical Trials Conducted For Epidiolex?

Research on Epidiolex was done by means of a controlled group and published by the New England Journal of Medicine in May 2018. A portion of the group was given a placebo, while another portion was given the CBD oil of different doses.The details of the result have been summarised below:

  • In the controlled trials for people suffering from Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) and Dravet syndrome, 689 people were treated with Epidiolex, which comprised of 533 people being treated for a period exceeding 6 months, while upto 391 people were treated for more than a year.
  • All the participants of the study were also under other epilepsy medication.
  • During the trials, the incidents of stopping the medicine were very few and far between, and mostly those cases pertained to higher doses of Epidiolex. The effect of which was a disruption in the liver function.
  • For those taking higher doses of Epidiolex, the common side effects included lethargy and drowsiness. Other effects seen included poor quality sleep, insomnia, asthenia (lack of energy), rash and infections.

Are The Side Effects A Cause For Concern?

CBD side effects have shown to raise a few eyebrows in the medical community. The disruption in liver function is because, although a plant by-product, Epidiolex is broken down in the liver as with any other medicine. Further, in higher doses Epidiolex has shown instances of interacting with other medication taken for epilepsy. These interactions have been studied and it’s been understood that:

  • There were subjects that had an increase in the liver enzymes to a level three times or more than permissible. These subjects were also on valproic acid (VPA), which is used as an anti-seizure medicine. The levels of VPA were seen not to rise when taken along with Epidiolex, owing to the interaction of the by-products of VPA with it when broken down. This may be the defining reason for the increased risk of liver complexities.
  • Clobazam, a drug taken as epilepsy medication, gets broken down. The by-products react with CBD causing tiredness and general lethargy in many subjects.

Should One Go Ahead And Use CBD For Epilepsy, If Nothing Else Works?

It has been statistically evaluated that as much as 3 in every 10 people don’t respond to conventional epilepsy medication. In which case, it doesn’t seem absurd to not consider CBD oil. It is advised for patients to consult with their doctors before jumping head first into anything. Be sure to look into the legality of the use of CBD oil in your state as well.

All in all, further studies are on-going and it is believed that the positive news as to whether CBD oil would be the life changer for many patients, will slowly surface in the times to come.