Updated on January 25, 2024

CBD for seizures

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Key takeaways

  • Epilepsy is one of the major causes of seizures and it affects over 3.4 million people in the United States.
  • Seizures are a common neurological occurrence affecting 1 in every 1000 people in the world.
  • Epidiolex is an CBD-based medication that was approved by the FDA for treating chronic epileptic seizures in children.
  • CBD may reduce seizures by modulating several receptors including the Endocannabinoid receptors, GABA receptors and neurotransmitters.
  • High-CBD strains are great for seizures.

One of the most successful and recognized roles of CBD is its ability to produce an anti-seizure effect. This led to the development of an FDA-approved medication for treating seizures in children. In this article, we would look at how CBD may produce anti-seizure properties and the possible risks involved.

Overview of seizures

Seizures are abnormal, sudden, and uncontrolled electrical disturbances in the brain, resulting in a range of symptoms. They can be caused by various factors, including epilepsy, brain injury, infections, or other medical conditions. Seizures vary in duration and intensity, with manifestations ranging from momentary lapses of awareness to convulsions.

Data from the CDC indicates that approximately 3.4 million individuals across the nation are affected by epilepsy, encompassing 3 million adults and 470,000 children. The latest statistics suggest that around 0.6% of children experience seizures. While seizures are a relatively common neurological occurrence, with about 11% of people experiencing one in their lifetime, the majority will encounter only a single seizure, often linked to a specific cause.

Causes of seizures

  1. Epilepsy
  2. Brain Injury
  3. Brain Infections such as meningitis and encephalitis.
  4. Metabolic Disorders like diabetes
  5. Genetic Factors.
  6. Brain Tumors
  7. Withdrawal from Substances
  8. High Fever (Febrile Seizures)
  9. Developmental Disorders
  10. Vascular Issues
  11. Head Trauma

How may CBD assist with seizures?

CBD has shown promise in managing seizures, particularly in certain types of epilepsy. Epidiolex, a CBD-based medication, is FDA-approved for treating severe forms of childhood epilepsy, such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.

Although the exact mechanism is not known, many scientists believe CBD’s anti-seizure effects may arise from one of the following mechanisms.

  1. Endocannabinoid System (ECS): CBD interacts with receptors in the ECS, particularly CB1 receptors found in the central nervous system. The ECS plays a role in regulating various physiological processes, including neuronal excitability.
  2. GABAergic System Modulation: CBD may influence the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) system, which is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. Enhancing GABAergic activity can reduce neuronal excitability and may contribute to seizure control.
  3. Anti-Inflammatory Effects: CBD has anti-inflammatory properties, and neuroinflammation is implicated in some seizure disorders. By reducing inflammation in the brain, CBD may help prevent or limit seizures.
  4. Ion Channels and Receptors: CBD can interact with various ion channels and receptors involved in neuronal activity. This modulation may contribute to the stabilization of neural circuits, reducing the likelihood of abnormal electrical discharges leading to seizures.
  5. Neuroprotective Effects: CBD's neuroprotective properties may play a role in mitigating damage to neurons caused by seizures. By promoting neuronal health, CBD could potentially reduce the severity and frequency of seizures.

Frequently asked questions

How much CBD does it take to stop a seizure?

Determining an exact CBD dosage to stop seizures varies among individuals. Dosages are often personalized based on factors like weight, the severity of seizures, and individual responses. It's crucial to consult with an expert to establish an appropriate and effective dosage.

What is the mechanism of action of CBD in epilepsy?

CBD's mechanism in epilepsy involves interactions with the endocannabinoid system, modulation of neurotransmitters, anti-inflammatory effects, and potential influence on ion channels. While the precise mechanisms are not fully understood, research suggests CBD may help stabilize neural circuits and reduce seizure activity.

What strains are good for seizures?

High-CBD strains, such as Charlotte's Web or ACDC, are commonly used for seizures. These strains have low THC content and higher CBD levels, believed to provide therapeutic effects without the psychoactive properties of THC.

Are there side effects to CBD?

While CBD is generally well-tolerated, some may experience mild side effects, including fatigue, changes in appetite, or diarrhea. Serious side effects are rare, but interactions with medications can occur.

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Ebadi, S. R., Saleki, K., Adl Parvar, T., Rahimi, N., Aghamollaii, V., Ranji, S., & Tafakhori, A. (2023). The effect of cannabidiol on seizure features and quality of life in drug-resistant frontal lobe epilepsy patients: A triple-blind controlled trial. Frontiers in Neurology, 14, 1143783. https://doi.org/10.3389/fneur.2023.1143783

Silva, G. D., Del Guerra, F. B., & Pinto, L. F. (2020). Cannabidiol in the Treatment of Epilepsy: A Focused Review of Evidence and Gaps. Frontiers in Neurology, 11, 531939. https://doi.org/10.3389/fneur.2020.531939

Ryan M. Cannabidiol in epilepsy: The indications and beyond. Ment Health Clin. 2020 Nov 5;10(6):317-325. doi: 10.9740/mhc.2020.11.317. PMID: 33224689; PMCID: PMC7653733.

Silvestro S, Mammana S, Cavalli E, Bramanti P, Mazzon E. Use of Cannabidiol in the Treatment of Epilepsy: Efficacy and Security in Clinical Trials. Molecules. 2019 Apr 12;24(8):1459. doi: 10.3390/molecules24081459. PMID: 31013866; PMCID: PMC6514832.

Reddy, D. S. (2022). Therapeutic and clinical foundations of cannabidiol therapy for difficult-to-treat seizures in children and adults with refractory epilepsies. Experimental Neurology, 359, 114237. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.expneurol.2022.114237

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