If you suffer from epilepsy and are looking for a natural alternative that is effective but has no side effects, you're in the right place. My name is David Reich, and I have been working in the CBD and cannabis field for many years. With this article, I aim to provide you with well-founded information about the potential effects of CBD on epilepsy.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is commonly used to alleviate anxiety, sleep disorders, pain, and many other neurological conditions. Increasingly, studies confirm that it can also reduce or even prevent epileptic seizures.
In this article, you will learn whether and how CBD works for epilepsy. Additionally, we will explain why you should consult a doctor and avoid self-medication.
What is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a chronic neurological disorder that causes uncontrollable and unpredictable seizures. Seizures can be mild or severe, with uncontrollable muscle twitches that can last seconds to minutes.
During a seizure, people may become confused or even lose consciousness.
Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological disorders worldwide. It can affect virtually anyone, with children being more commonly affected due to their developing brains. Additionally, more men than women tend to be affected.
With medication and other strategies such as lifestyle changes, individuals can manage their epilepsy. Epilepsy is considered cured only after 10 years of seizure-free periods without taking any antiepileptic drugs for an additional 5 years.
The most common treatment methods for epilepsy are medications and, in some cases, surgical interventions. There are also promising natural remedies, including certain diets and supplements. However, statistics show that about 30% of people with epilepsy continue to have uncontrolled seizures despite medical treatment.
Treatment for epilepsy depends on the severity of symptoms, overall health condition, and response to therapy. Treatment options include:
- Medications: Primarily antiepileptic drugs (anti-seizure medications).
- Vagus Nerve Stimulation: For the treatment of medication-resistant epilepsy, an electrical device is implanted under the skin on the chest.
- Diet: Many epilepsy patients respond well to a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet.
- Brain Surgery: A region in the brain that causes seizures can be removed or surgically altered.
Medications can be administered individually or in combination. To effectively control seizures, it is important to take the medications at the exact same time and in the correct dosage.
Effects of CBD on Epilepsy
CBD has many potential health benefits. This is because it interacts with the body's own nervous system called the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). The ECS consists, among other things, of endocannabinoids, which are natural messenger molecules, and neuroreceptors. These neuroreceptors (known as CB1 and CB2) are located in the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) as well as throughout the body in immune cells.
Various scientific studies have already shown that CBD can significantly reduce or even stop the frequency of seizures in epilepsy. This is likely because CB1 endocannabinoid receptors are located in the brain. Scientists therefore suspect that the endocannabinoid system can influence the seizure threshold.
CBD as a Supplement in Epilepsy Treatment
Although the effectiveness of CBD in epilepsy has been proven in several scientific studies, experts advise caution. For epilepsy, precise dosing is crucial, so CBD should only be taken under medical supervision. We advise against self-medication.
Doctors also turn to CBD products when conventional medications fail. This is often the case with Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. The effectiveness of CBD has been demonstrated in studies for these severe forms of epilepsy.
Does CBD Have Side Effects?
CBD is popular as an alternative to conventional medications because it has no or minimal side effects. The World Health Organization classifies CBD as safe .
Possible side effects of CBD include:
- Dry mouth
- Changes in appetite
In studies on Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut syndromes, participants reported mainly fatigue, diarrhea, and stomach discomfort.
No worries: CBD does not produce a high. Unlike THC, a related cannabinoid, it does not have psychoactive effects and is non-addictive.
While full-spectrum CBD products contain a small amount of THC, it must not exceed 0.3% in the United States for the product to be legal and freely available.
However, breastfeeding mothers and children under two years of age should avoid taking CBD. The effects of CBD on infants and their development have not yet been studied. Therefore, it is safer to refrain from using it.
How to Take CBD for Epilepsy and What Dosage?
Epilepsy is a delicate matter. While CBD has proven its efficacy in various studies, even for severe forms of epilepsy, it is crucial to administer it in pure quality and precise dosages. When a serious health issue is present CBD should always be taken in consultation with a doctor. This is because CBD can interact with other medications, including antiepileptic drugs. Studies suggest that CBD should be taken multiple times a day, regardless of whether there is a current risk of seizures or not.
What Do Scientific Studies Say?
There is a growing body of scientific research in the field of epilepsy. Many studies focus on forms of epilepsy that are difficult to treat or do not respond to conventional medications:
A meta-analysis  of existing literature shows that CBD can be effective in treating different forms of epilepsy in children and adults, with no significant adverse effects.
An earlier study  from 2017 confirmed that CBD can control seizure rates, especially in specific and challenging-to-treat forms of epilepsy.
A study published in the journal "Epilepsy & Behavior" in 2013  investigated CBD-enriched medical cannabis in children with treatment-resistant epilepsy. Of the 19 participants, 13 had Dravet syndrome, 4 had Doose syndrome, and one child had Lennox-Gastaut syndrome as well as idiopathic epilepsy.
Results of the study by Porter, Brenda E., and Catherine Jacobson:
|Diagnosis||Age||CBD Duration (months)||CBD Dosage (mg/kg/day)||THC Dosage (mg/kg/day)||Seizures per Day before CBD||Seizures per Day with CBD||Discontinued Medications during CBD|
|1||Lennox-Gastaut||7 ♀||>12||?||?||>100||1-2||Banzel, Onfi|
|7||Dravet||13 ♂||3-4||4||0.02-0.1||6||4||Phenobarbital, Depakote|
|9||Dravet||♂||>4||3-4||0.04-0.2||15-70||0-1||STP, Topamax, Depakote|
|11||Dravet||8 ♀||>12||?||?||1-2||0-1||STP, Onfi, Depakote|
|12||Dravet||7 ♀||>4||3-4||0.04-0.2||>3||0-2||Ongi, Zonegran, Depakote|
|13||Doose||9 ♀||>4||10-13||0.5||10-35||0||Lorazepam, Ethosuximide|
Be cautious of such study results!
These results are promising, but caution is advised: many study participants have not only taken CBD but also the psychotropic and potentially hazardous THC, especially for children. In addition, the amounts of CBD administered in the study are sometimes extremely high and are hardly achievable or not achievable at all with conventional CBD oil. Trying this on your own without a doctor's prescription should not be attempted.
CBD is an effective alternative in the treatment of epilepsy, which can also work where conventional medications fail. If you suffer from epilepsy and are considering taking CBD or considering it for your child, it is essential to discuss this with a doctor. Only in this way can you avoid interactions and ensure that you get the best possible effects from CBD.
Have you had any experiences with CBD for epilepsy? Share them with us and our readers in the comments.
-  WHO: CANNABIDIOL (CBD). Critical Review Report, available in full text, 2018
-  Silvestro, Serena et al. "Use of Cannabidiol in the Treatment of Epilepsy: Efficacy and Security in Clinical Trials.", available in full text, Molecules (Basel, Switzerland) 2019
-  Perucca, E. Cannabinoids in the Treatment of Epilepsy: Hard Evidence at Last? available in full text, Journal of epilepsy research 2017
-  Porter, Brenda E., and Catherine Jacobson. "Report of a parent survey of cannabidiol-enriched cannabis use in pediatric treatment-resistant epilepsy." Epilepsy & Behavior 29.3 (2013): 574-577.