Epilepsy is a devastating neurological disorder that causes its victims to lose control of their minds and bodies. Victims may lose consciousness, become overwhelmed by extreme fear/paranoia and experience uncontrollable muscle movements that can cause the entire body to convulse. Worst of all, there is no cure for epilepsy. It can only be treated and managed.
You may be wondering why we’re dedicating an entire blog post to a condition that only* affects 1.2% of the U.S. population (*by comparison, 38.4% of U.S. men and women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetimes – this statistical fact is not intended to diminish the intense difficulties of living with epilepsy).
- Reason #1 is we can never have too much knowledge or too much empathy for anyone battling a rare, difficult condition like epilepsy.
- Reason #2 is that as skeptics continue to question the scientific validity of cannabis as medicine, its documented results in the treatment of epilepsy are gaining more and more acceptance in the medical community.
Roughly translated, a win in the fight against epilepsy is a win for all of us.
The most famous example of cannabis preventing seizures
The case of Charlotte Figi has been written about in science journals like Scientific American as well as mainstream media outlets like CNN. When she was just 3 years old, Charlotte started experiencing up to 300 grand mal seizures PER WEEK. Out of pure desperation, Charlotte’s parents turned to CBD. The results were immediate and staggering. Her seizures dropped to just 3-4 per day and almost all of them occurred while she was asleep. Thanks to a dose of CBD in the morning and in the evening, Charlotte is living a normal life where she is able to feed herself, go to school and play with her friends. Charlotte’s story offers impossible to discredit proof of CBD’s effectiveness and has paved the way for more research.
Let’s talk about why cannabis is an effective treatment for epilepsy
As we’ve said many times before, at Revolutionary Clinics, we’re not doctors but we have great relationships with dozens of them. That includes the good people at the Green Nurse Group, “an action oriented, non-profit organization of dedicated professionals and nurses who seek to relieve suffering via the safe use of medical cannabis and other natural, holistic therapies”. As part of our busy events schedule, representatives from the Green Nurse Group lead regular education sessions at our clinics on all kinds of different topics, including cannabis as a treatment for epilepsy. According to them, CBD is an effective treatment for epilepsy because of its effect on our body’s endocannabinoid system – which regulates all the systems in our body including our muscular, skeletal, immune and nervous system. The endocannabinoid system’s job is to maintain homeostasis (balance) in all of the other systems. When our bodies are out of balance, CBD, also known as “The Great Influencer”, helps out by stimulating the CB1 and CB2 receptors within the endocannabinoid system.
This is a very technical way of saying that CBD has the same effect on our endocannabinoid system as say, fertilizer on your lawn – it can tell our cells what to do and what not do to promote overall health and wellness.
How does CBD prevent seizures?
At the risk of getting too technical, CBD increases our own internal circulating cannabinoids by inhibiting the enzyme that can break them down which can result in seizures. CBD also modulates the flow of ions (such as calcium and potassium) within the neurons of our brains. This reduces the “excitability” of neurons which is a further deterrent to seizures. Another cause of neuron excitability is glutamate activity which CBD has been proven to suppress. Finally, CBD stimulates the growth of new neurons within our brains, especially within the hippocampus which is the area responsible for memory, special navigation and emotional response.
What does CBD and epilepsy mean for other cannabis strains?
If you’re still with us, you now may be wondering why we’re spending so much time talking about CBD since most of the products we carry at Revolutionary Clinics are THC based. It goes back to our earlier point about a win over epilepsy being a win for all. Despite the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana in Massachusetts, veterans still face an uphill battle to have cannabis prescribed as a treatment for chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder.
That’s a battle we at Revolutionary Clinics care about on both a professional and personal level. Many of our employees used a day off to march in the 2019 St. Patrick’s Day parade to raise awareness of the need for veterans to have access to medical marijuana.
The bottom line is, CBD’s effectiveness in the treatment of epilepsy is paving the way for more studies and more effective conversations with veterans’ affairs officials as well as the medical community. The more the public comes to accept cannabis as a legitimate form of medicine, the easier it will be for people to explore its benefits without fear of being judged. That’s a big deal because the stigma of cannabis is still a very real thing that many of our patients have a hard time talking about with their families, doctors and employers.
At Revolutionary Clinics, we hope you never have to worry about using cannabis as a treatment for epilepsy but we also hope this post helped you understand why it’s such an important situation to know about and understand. If you have any questions about how any of our products can help you, please give us a call at 617-213-6006.