Seizures Blog 1: Cannabis History and Physiology of Seizures

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November 29, 2018
Seizure Blog 2: Cannabinoids, Seizures and Research
November 29, 2018

Cannabis History & Physiology of Seizures

If you are reading this page, more than likely you or someone you know is looking for a more effective and natural way to manage a seizure disorder. The medicinal use of cannabis for its anticonvulsant properties dates back to early civilizations including ancient China, India, Africa, Greece and Rome (Chaboya-Hembree, 2014). As early as 1100 AD, Arabic writer al-Mayusi documented the use of cannabis in controlling seizures (Lozano, 2001). In our current culture, there is a vast degree of disagreement about the use of cannabis for controlling seizures. Thus far in American society, political and economic interests have been the motive for controlling and suppressing research into the medicinal uses of the Cannabis plant. Searching for information regarding the safety and efficacy of the use of Cannabis in treating seizures is no small task. In our hyper-scientific culture, ancient wisdom and natural remedies are often lost in the mix or shuffled off to the side and disregarded. This is one remedy that needs more attention, as the use of cannabis by people who struggle with seizures can be life-changing.

Overview Physiology of Seizures

Seizures are caused by overexcited brain cells that fire abnormally. In roughly half the cases: the cause is unknown. There are two primary categories that seizures fall into: generalized and partial. Generalized seizures are produced by electrical impulses throughout the entire brain, which distorts consciousness: while partial seizures tend to be produced by a relatively small area of the brain (University of Maryland Medical Center, 2014). People with generalized seizures with no apparent cause are known to have primary generalized epilepsy. Seizures can also be secondary to a separate diagnosed condition. People with all forms of epilepsy have chronic and recurrent seizures.

Treatment-Resistant Seizures

A significant number of people with epilepsy have what is known as treatment-resistant epilepsy. According to Whalley (2014), an estimated 30% of individuals with epilepsy do not find relief and control of seizures from existing pharmacological anti-convulsant drugs. Furthermore, as many as 50% of people with epilepsy will eventually develop seizures that are resistant to available pharmacological medications. Cannabis has been a successful treatment for a number people with of documented cases of chronic, recurrent seizures that do not respond to pharmaceutical drugs.

Growing Body of Evidence

Much of the information available regarding cannabis use and seizures is anecdotal. However, there is a growing body of information including individual case studies, surveys and small trials that provide a significant amount of information regarding the use of cannabis in seizures. Many agencies, organizations and doctors cite the lack of clinical trials as a reason to debunk the use of cannabis for epileptic patients. This standpoint is becoming largely undereducated. According to Whalley (2014), “most of the available human evidence suggests that both a reduction in incidence and severity of seizures, as well as physical and behavioral improvements in children and adults treated with either cannabis or its 25 preparations (e.g. CBD solution), can be achieved.”  In the next blog Cannabis, Seizures and Research we will focus on more of this research and what it means for you.

Resources on from this Blog:

Bienenstock, David. (2014). “Desperately Seeking CBD.” retrieved from: http://www.vice.com/read/desperately-seeking-cbd

Chaboya-Hembree, Jan. (2014). “Epilepsy – Can Medical Marijuana Aid in Relieving Seizures.” retrieved from: http://medicalmarijuana.com/experts/expert/title.cfm?artID=75

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

Lozano I (2001). The therapeutic use of Cannabis sativa L. in Arabic medicine. Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics 1(1): 63-70.

University of Maryland Medical Center. (2014). “Seizure Disorders.” retrieved from: http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/seizure-disorders

Schwartz, Carly. (2014). “Meet the Children Who Rely on Marijuana to Survive.” retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/31/cannabis-for-children_n_4697135.html

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

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