Seizure Blog 2: Cannabinoids, Seizures and Research

Seizures Blog 1: Cannabis History and Physiology of Seizures
November 29, 2018
Seizure Blog 3: Safely Treating Seizures with Cannabis
November 29, 2018

Cannabinoids, Seizures and Research

The Cannabis plant offers a number of different cannabinoids, all of which have been found to have unique medicinal properties. The primary cannabinoid that gets the most attention is THC (Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is the cannabinoid that is well known for being psychoactive. THC was also what lead scientists to discover the Endocannabinoid system in vertebrate animals, including humans (Steep Hill Laboratories, 2014). In one study from the 1940’s five children with “severe anticonvulsant resistant grand mal epilepsy” were treated with THC and found that THC controlled two of these children’s seizures. The other three children noted no change (Whalley, 2014). Additionally, there were several documented cases in a report by Lorenz (2004) in addition to the numerous preclinical studies conducted on animals. Many of the animal studies document successful control of seizures with THC.

Cannabidiol, otherwise known as CBD, is the only other cannabinoid that has been examined for anti-convulsant properties in humans. In 1978 two scientists conducted a randomized experiment on nine epileptic patients. Four of the patients were administered 200 mg of CBD daily. The remaining five patients were administered a placebo. Two of the four patients who received the 200 mg/daily dosage of CBD became seizure free (Whalley, 2014). There are further studies summarized in the paper by (Whalley) 2014, for a more in-depth examination of these studies follow this link: http://www.herbal-ahp.org/documents/press_releases/AHP%20Therapeutic%20Compendium-Cannabis%20Epilepsy%20and%20Seizures%20Scientific%20Review.pdf

A more recent study of particular importance on CBD studies includes Porter and Jacobson (2013): they took a parent survey of cannabidiol enriched cannabis use in pediatric treatment-resistant epilepsy. The findings report: “The average number of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) tried before using cannabidiol-enriched cannabis was 12. Sixteen (84%) of the 19 parents reported a reduction in their child’s seizure frequency while taking cannabidiol-enriched cannabis. Of these, two (11%) reported complete seizure freedom, eight (42%) reported a greater than 80% reductions in seizure frequency, and six (32%) reported a 25-60% seizure reduction. Other beneficial effects included increased alertness, better mood, and improved sleep. Side effects include drowsiness and fatigue. Our survey shows that parents are using cannabidiol-enriched cannabis as a treatment for their children with treatment-resistant epilepsy.” This study can be found at the following link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24237632 The overwhelming consensus of case studies, surveys and pre-clinical animal studies suggests CBD has a strong anticonvulsant effect; it has the potential to decrease or eliminate seizures, improve consciousness and spasticity.

There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that Cannabinoids have the potential to control or reduce seizures in adults and children.  GW Pharmaceuticals has recently made monumental strides with their FDA approval of Epidiolex. Epidiolex is the first ever FDA approved cannabis-derived medication.  It is a CBD medication that, once it is through all the red tape with the DEA, is approved to treat seizures and specifically Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome in children ages two and up.  As we see cannabis adoption and acceptance become more widespread, cannabinoid treatment options for people living with seizures will become more accessible.

All resources and links for this research are available below:

Medical Disclaimer: The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website.

Resources

Lorenz R (2004) On the application of cannabis in pediatrics and epileptology Neuroendocrinology Letters 25:40-44

Greenwich Biosciences. (2018) EPIDIOLEX. retrieved from: https://www.epidiolex.com

 

Porter, BE. Jacobson, C. (2013). “Report of a parent survey of cannabidiol-enriched cannabis use in pediatric treatment-resistant epilepsy.” retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24237632

Steep Hill Laboratories. (2014). Cannabinoid and Terpenoid Reference Guide. retrieved from: http://steephilllab.com/resources/cannabinoid-and-terpenoid-reference-guide/

Whalley, Benjamin J. (2014). “Cannabis In The Management And Treatment Of Seizures And Epilepsy: A Scientific Review.” American Herbal Pharmacopoeia. retrieved from: http://www.herbal-ahp.org/documents/press_releases/AHP%20Therapeutic%20Compendium-Cannabis%20Epilepsy%20and%20Seizures%20Scientific%20Review.pdf

Steep Hill Laboratories. (2014). Cannabinoid and Terpenoid Reference Guide. retrieved from: http://steephilllab.com/resources/cannabinoid-and-terpenoid-reference-guide/