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Cannabis and Seizure Disorders

A pill bottle with a cannabis leaf on the label in front of other white bottles.

Most Discussed for Seizure Disorders

One of the most discussed aspects of medical marijuana is its use for seizure disorders. Cannabis has been used as an antispasmodic in India for thousands of years, and these effects were some of the first noticed by Western scholars in the 1800s. Medical marijuana proponents claim that active chemicals in cannabis have anti-seizure properties, while opponents cite concerns over the psychoactive effects of marijuana. Cannabis oils, tinctures, and edibles are made and marketed to seizure patients. There are even strains of marijuana that were developed specifically to maximize these anti-seizure effects.

Despite the overwhelming anecdotal evidence, the jury’s still out on the effectiveness or medical marijuana on seizure disorders. The Epilepsy Foundation says of cannabis, “scientifically controlled studies have not shown definitive proof of efficacy and safety of marijuana or cannabis in epilepsy.” However, there are a ton of documentaries and personal stories about people finding immediate and profound relief of seizures with medical marijuana and related cannabis products. More research is needed into the medicinal properties of cannabis for patients with seizure disorders such as epilepsy, Dravet syndrome, or brain injuries.

What chemicals in cannabis treat seizures?

There are two main active compounds in cannabis: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Both are called phytocannabinoids, and these plant chemicals mimic naturally occurring chemicals in our bodies called endocannabinoids. Only one of the two phytocannabinoids, THC, is psychoactive, meaning it produces the euphoric feeling or “high” associated with recreational use of marijuana. The cannabinoid CBD is not psychoactive, and it is said to have muscle relaxing and anti-seizure properties. CBD is also said to have a host of other health benefits including relief of nausea and anxiety. Cannabidiol or CBD also counteracts many of the narcotic effects of THC, which changes the effects of various marijuana strains, making some more energetic, for example.

CBD and Medical Marijuana

Because cannabidiol (CBD) doesn’t have the psychoactive effects of THC, it isn’t classified as a narcotic and may be purchased in places where medical marijuana is not yet legal. Many strains of medical marijuana have been cultivated that are higher in CBD than THC, and cannabis plants classified as hemp are also high in CBD and contain only trace amounts of THC. Medicines are made from these strains of cannabis specifically so patients can get the benefits of CBD without the legalities involved with THC-containing products. The medical marijuana community is divided on this kind of legislation, as many think both cannabinoids should be legalized. Some patients also report that oils and medicines containing only CBD do not work as well as those with a mixture of CBD and THC.

Approved Forms of Cannabis Drugs to Treat Seizures

There are several types of medicines made from high-CBD forms of cannabis, including extracts and synthetic drugs.

Oils – AKA cannabidiol or CBD oil, hemp seed oil – CBD oil is usually 80% or more CBD in an oil form, processed from raw cannabis plant matter. Most oils are processed using butane gas or carbon dioxide gas and high pressure, though hemp oil is sometimes pressed from cannabis seeds. Oils can be mixed with carrier oils or mixed with glycerine for use in vaporizer pens. CBD oil is often administered under the tongue, rubbed into the gums, or inhaled as a vapor.

Epidiolex – This cannabidiol drug was developed by GW Pharmaceuticals, a British company that also developed Sativex, another cannabis-derived drug used to treat multiple sclerosis. Epidiolex is still in clinical trial phase as of 2016, but the trial results have been positive so far, indicating that Epidiolex can help treat drug-resistant epileptic conditions like Dravet syndrome.

“Charlotte’s Web” – In 2009, the Stanley brothers began cultivating a high CBD strain of medical cannabis specifically to treat children with severe seizures caused by rare diseases like Dravet syndrome. After learning of how CBD oil helped a young girl named Charlotte reduce her seizures, these medical marijuana growers named their high CBD cannabis project “Charlotte’s Web.” Today, many products such as CBD oil are produced under this name specifically to help with epilepsy and cancer.

Other Health Benefits of CBD Oil

While the antispasmodic properties of cannabidiol are becoming more well known, there are many other medicinal effects associated with CBD. Symptoms that cannabidiol can treat include:

Anxiety – CBD has been found to have anxiolytic properties, meaning it lessens anxiety in many patients. The exact mechanism isn’t known, but scientists think that it affects activity in the limbic and paralimbic brain areas.

Nausea – CBD is known as an antiemetic, meaning it reduces nausea and vomiting. Cannabidiol in conjunction with THC has been shown to substantially reduce nausea in patients with cancer and HIV, as well as increase appetite to combat wasting associated with these diseases.

Pain – Though much more scientific study needs to be done, some evidence suggests that CBD and other cannabinoids can reduce pain. Studies have shown that smoking marijuana reduces patient’s’ reliance on opioid drugs for pain. Many companies have created CBD topical salves and creams designed to be rubbed directly onto the parts of the body that hurt.

Menstrual Cramps – Queen Victoria was prescribed a cannabis tea to help her menstrual cramps, and today you can find a host of CBD-containing products designed to help women deal with pain and muscle spasms associated with menstruation.

Despite your reasons for using medical cannabis products, you need to know that you’re storing them safely. That’s why Green Rush Packaging has developed cannabis friendly packaging that’s lightweight but durable and secure. At potpackaging.com, you can find the right bag or pouch to store your cannabis product, whether that’s raw plant material or concentrated CBD products for medical use.

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