Epilepsy and CBD: How the Non-Psychoactive Cannabinoid Helps Patients

August 01, 2018

Cannabidiol seems to be extremely promising for patients who are struggling with epilepsy, one of the most troubling neurological conditions ever. Before we get into what exactly goes on in the body when CBD is introduced, let’s take a step back and say a few words about the ailment itself. 

A brief introduction to epilepsy


Epilepsy is a relatively frequent neurological disease distinguished by the onset of seizures, which can greatly range in both duration and intensity. For some patients living with epilepsy, life isn’t too challenging, but for those who have more serious symptoms, the attacks can be excruciating, some lasting for several hours at a time.

It’s not rare that a person sustains serious injuries during these heavy seizures, and can even break bones during the convulsive attack.

This disorder significantly lessens the quality of life for those who have a severe variation of this disease, so the promise of CBD as a completely natural and non-toxic molecule is doubtlessly beneficial.

Causes of epilepsy can be quite different, ranging from brain injury, infections and tumors. Unfortunately for the majority of patients the exact cause is still completely obscure. Genetic factors probably have something to do with it, but for now epilepsy isn’t understood enough by science. What we do know so far is that the seizures themselves are a result of excessive neural activity within the cerebral cortex.

Approximately one person in a hundred has some form of epilepsy, and around one third of patients don’t get any relief from regular pharmaceutical medications.

How is cannabis able to alleviate seizure activity


CBD, which is one of the most prominent cannabinoids in pot, is beneficial for a wide array of diseases, conditions and disorders. A pharmaceutical company from the UK was given the permission by the FDA to conduct clinical trials on US soil under “compassionate use” regulations. This drug is called Epidiolex, and is made from 99% plant-based CBD.

Related article: THC and CBD, and the Entourage Effect!

GW Pharmaceuticals conducted this trial on over 200 patients who had various untreatable forms of epilepsy. They were mostly kids, with the average age of participants being 11 years old. The Epidiolex treatment lasted for two weeks, and the results showed that the overall seizure frequency was reduced by 54%, and that the patients who combined the CBD drug with Clobazam or Onfi had an even bigger seizure decline than those who didn’t.

Related article: Science Behind CBD - Everything You Need To Know About CBD

There are also the 3 gold standard studies, where two of them focused on the connection between CBD and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, and one on CBD and kids with Dravet syndrome. Both of these epilepsy forms are quite rare and very troublesome for the people who are suffering from them.

The results were very promising, as the Lennox-Gastaut patients experienced a 40% decrease in seizures (with a 20% lessening from the placebo group), and the Dravet syndrome patients also reported a forty percent decrease (with a 17% placebo lessening).

It’s not unusual for patients who receive placebos to exhibit a decrease in symptoms from autosuggestion alone, but the number of patients who were feeling better because of Epidiolex was approximately twice as large, confirming that CBD is indeed amazingly beneficial for the most problematic variations of epilepsy.

What’s also important to understand is that even though these studies were conducted on Epidiolex which is almost completely natural, using CBD oil which is made from cannabis (for kids and adults), and smoking cannabis joints or even the healthier consumption of high CBD strains is a much better option, as CBD doesn’t go through any pharmaceutical processes.

Real life story


There is also a large body of anecdotal evidence that consuming pure cannabis-based CBD offers even better results, and in the continuation we’ll discuss these real-life stories.

The most widespread story of CBD and epilepsy is of a little girl called Charlotte Figi, who was experiencing severe and very frequent seizures practically from birth. As she grew older, her symptoms only got worse, and the seizures were completely stopping her from having a normal childhood, and even halted her mind and body from developing in a normal way.

She was unable to eat and walk, and the physicians in charge of her even had to place her in an induced coma, so she could rest from all these devastating seizures. Her parents accidentally found a similar case online, and found out that the other child experienced wondersome benefits from CBD oil.

CBD vs Pharmaceuticals


The difference between CBD and classical pharma options is that CBD doesn’t create any serious side effects (only slight nausea and dizziness are reported by the patients), unlike the artificial narcotics which create an overabundance of dangerous side effects, and also don’t even work on a great percentage of epilepsy sufferers.

Once they found the Stanley brothers (who are cannabis manufacturers in Colorado), and placed Charlotte on the CBD regiment, everything drastically changed for the better.

Related article: The Seven Benefits of CBD Oil for Dogs

Instead of being tortured by seizures for literally hours each day, she now only has a couple of short ones a month, and is now capable of experiencing a normal childhood, all thanks to this amazing cannabinoid.

For additional info on this wonderful story, you should watch this TedTalk with one of the Stanley brothers, who detailedly discusses their groundbreaking high-CBD strain, and the story of Charlotte Figi.

There is a great number of personal YouTube videos of people with epilepsy being aided with CBD, and also a lot of major news outlets covering stories such as Charlotte’s, because of the phenomenal results of CBD for these disorders.

One last study I want to share with you..


The American Epilepsy Society’s annual meeting in Philadelphia expressed opportunistic research concerning the use of hemp extract known as CBD (cannabidiol). CBD is a non-psychoactive extract from the hemp plant. This non-psychoactive extract does not alter one's mood, consciousness or perception.  Although this clinical research is anecdotal, the results were positive in most patients with debilitating seizures. Such forms of  these treatment-resistant disorders include Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome (LGS) and Dravet Syndrome (DS).

GW Pharmaceutical’s conducted a study to administer Epidiolex (cannabidiol) to 261 patients. Epidiolex is an investigational drug and has not yet been approved for use by the FDA.

The experimental drug was introduced to the patient's current AED (anti-epileptic drugs) treatments and given in gradual amounts while increasing doses during the 12 week study.

Here are their results concluding the 12 week study:

  • 45% of the participants frequency in seizures were reduced
  • 47% of the participants had a considerable reduction of seizures
  • 9% were seizure free
  • 62% of DS patients experienced a reduction of seizures
  • 13% of DS patients were seizure free
  • 71% of LGS patients experienced a reduction of atonic seizures
  • 10% experienced adverse effects of somnolence, diarrhea and fatigue which led to discontinuation in four percent of patients.
  • 34% reported serious adverse events of which five percent were considered treatment related  
  • 12% withdrew due to lack of efficacy

Lead author Orrin Devinsky, M.D., of New York University Langone Medical Center’s Comprehensive Epilepsy Center said:

"We are pleased to report these promising data on significant numbers of children, These data reinforce and support the safety and efficacy we have shared in previous studies. Most importantly it is providing hope to the children and their families who have been living with debilitating seizures. These results are from an uncontrolled study. Further study is needed before results can be confirmed. Randomized controlled studies are now underway to help us better understand the effectiveness of the drug. As a practitioner, I have had families move to Colorado, and many tried multiple different products, As a doctor, I often don’t feel like I know which of many factors is contributing to a patient doing better or worse. We absolutely need rigorous, scientific data on this."


It’s more than evident that additional studies need to be conducted in order for us to truly figure out how exactly CBD works on epilepsy patients, but the clinical evidence done so far combined with all these anecdotal stories both point to one direction, and that’s that cannabis, or more precisely that the second most abundant compound in cannabis is currently the best possible medicine for epilepsy on planet Earth.



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