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CBD for Epilepsy: Myths vs. facts

In 2018, the FDA recently greenlit a CBD-based oral medical medication to treat two severe types of epilepsy. However, this treatment is not to be mixed with Medical Marijuana, the widely accessible plant used to treat various conditions.

 The public eye has brewed many myths and misconceptions about Epilepsy and CBD’s link over the years. The 3 million Americans combatting Epilepsy need to be aware of the facts to ensure they’re getting the most effective treatment available. 

To make things clear: Medical marijuana is not the same as CBD-based drugs. And the FDA, or any other regulatory authority for that matter, hasn’t approved it as a treatment. This is mainly because cannabis science is still in infancy, and unless there is some concrete evidence in shape, things are likely to stay in a limbo. 

The only extensive research demonstrating CBD’s medicinal potential has yielded us a CBD-based pharmaceutical-grade drug called Epidiolex. Edpidiolex has shown great potential to treat Dravet Syndrome and Lennox Gastaut Syndrome, epileptic disorders with no dependable treatment. 

 Myth: All Medical Marijuana is the same

Despite popular opinion, all medical marijuana is not the same. Because the CBD industry is largely unregulated, you never know what you’re getting. While you can have some certainty about pharmaceutical-grade CBD since it’s formulated under rigorous conditions, you can’t say the same about medical marijuana. 

Medical marijuana may contain various compounds in varying concentrations. Some additives that parents of Epileptic children should be wary of in marijuana-based products are heavy metals and pesticides. These can aggravate epileptic symptoms. Your chances of coming across these dangerous products are especially high in states where the use of recreational marijuana is legal. 

Labeling is also another concern. Samples of medical marijuana from state-approved dispensaries have shown that CBD and THC (the main psychoactive component of marijuana) advertised on the packaging are often incorrect. 

Myth: CBD Is Natural and Has a Better Safety profile Than Anti-Epileptic Drugs (AEDs)

Fact: CBD medication is not safer than AEDs, and its side effects are similar to those associated with AEDs. CBD medication can make the user tired and can cause liver damage. Recent research found that CBD medication is associated with drug interactions, meaning it can negatively interact with other AEDs.

CBD for epileptic patients

Myth: CBD is Easily Available

While you can easily get your hands on CBD vapes, smokes, tinctures, and oil from online stores and Marijuana dispensaries, these are not the same as CBD-drugs scientists’ use in clinical trials. So, there’s no way to ascertain that these products work for Epilepsy or not. 

Moreover, there’s no certainty surrounding their safety and quality. They might contain dangerous impurities that might do your child more harm than good. One way to check the chemical profile of your CBD product is to peruse third-party lab results. Most companies publish these on their websites. They have a lot of information on CBD concentration, impurities, and other things.

Myth: Epileptic Patients don’t Have Any Other Option than CBD

No, CBD isn’t your only treatment for Epilepsy. There are other options—for instance, AEDS. And if you’re not an AED type of person, you can always turn to the ketogenic diet. Many studies have shown that the Ketogenic diet helps with headaches, migraines, and Epilepsy. 

Myth: CBD Is Just Medical marijuana and Causes a High

Although both CBD and THC are marijuana derivatives, they’re not the same in the way they act on the human brain. Most CBD products contain less than .3% of THC, which does not induce euphoric feelings associated with lasting highs. 

The same goes for pharmaceutical-grade CBD products. These are also highly purified forms of CBD that don’t contain any THC traces, and therefore, don’t get the users high. 

Facts Surrounding CBD and Epilepsy: What Does the Research Say?

Epidiolex (Cannabidiol, CBD)

Research on the use of Epidiolex as a viable treatment for Epilepsy dates back to several years. The results from these studies are what led the FDA to approve Epidiolex in 2018. 

Epidiolex is a highly purified CBD extract containing 98% of total CBD oil concentration. GW pharmaceuticals — the same company that suffered a flop with Sativex, another CBD-based drug — introduced it for pharmaceutical use. 

Researchers studied the medication’s effects in double-place controlled trials. In these trials, some people were given a placebo for epilepsy while others were given CBD in different doses. To ensure the placebo effect didn’t come into play, researchers or the participants didn’t know who was getting the placebo and who was getting the real medication. Because of this, these studies are also called gold-standard studies. 

Here’s a summary of the trials:

  •  Six hundred eighty-nine people who had Lennox_Gastaut and Dravet Syndrome were treated with Epidiolex. Out of these, researchers placed 533 under treatment for six months, and 391 for an entire year. 
  • In another extended program, and other subsidiary programs of the same trials, 1611 participants with Dravet were given Epidiolex, with 109 of these administered the drug for more than six months. 
  • Aside from Epidiolex, all participants were taking drugs to control their seizures. 
  •  Epidiolex caused no major side effects. Therefore, the need to discontinue its use didn’t arise. In some cases, high doses of the drug caused some adverse effects, such as sleepiness, lethargy, and fatigue, but only in the initial few weeks. When the dose was lowered, patients returned to normality. 
  •  Epidiolex had the biggest effect on liver function. 
  •  Patients reported some common side effects, such as asthenia, fatigue, liver function change, insomnia, and infections. 

Final Thoughts

Epilepsy is a condition that affects millions of people worldwide and causes mild to severe symptoms. Although CBD has emerged as a viable treatment, not all CBD is the same. There’s a huge difference between pharmaceutical-grade CBD-based products like Epidiolex and CBD creams, oils, and lotions available in the market. Before treating yourself with CBD, make sure you consult a competent physician or a holistic CBD doctor to make sure you’re not stepping into the wrong medical lane and falling prey to the pitfalls of the unregulated CBD industry. 

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