CBD Oil for Seizures: Use, Effectiveness, Side Effects, and More

Seizures are caused by changes in the electrical activity in your brain. There are many different types of seizures, and potential causes can include:

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a chemical found in the cannabis plant that people often take to manage chronic pain or to reduce their anxiety symptoms. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD is not euphoric or impairing.

CBD oil may be able to help treat some types of seizures.

In this article, we break down what the latest studies have found and look at the potential side effects.

It isn’t known exactly how CBD helps prevent seizures.

Your body contains a system of neurotransmitters and receptors called the endocannabinoid system. This system is thought to help regulate functions in your body such as appetite, sleep, and pain, as well as your immune system response.

It’s thought that CBD can modify these functions by interacting with receptors in your endocannabinoid system.

Animal research suggests CBD’s antiseizure effects might come from reducing neuron excitability by acting on two groups of receptors called GPR55 and TRPV1 receptors.

Currently, a prescription drug CBD called Epidolex is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndromes, two rare forms of epilepsy. It’s also FDA-approved to treat seizures caused by the genetic disorder tuberous sclerosis complex.

Research on CBD oil’s ability to treat seizures is ongoing. The most rigorous studies have been performed on people with one of the three conditions that CBD oil is FDA approved to treat.

CBD for Lennox-Gastaut syndrome

Lennox-Gastaut syndrome makes up about 2 to 5 percent of childhood epilepsy cases.

Two 14-week clinical trials examined the effectiveness of Epidolex for treating seizures in people with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.

Study 1

In the first study, researchers compared the antiseizure effect of 20 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) of Epidolex per day with a placebo.

They found:

  • Half of the participants who took Epilolex experienced 44 percent fewer seizures.
  • Half of the participants in the placebo group experienced 22 percent fewer seizures

Study 2

The second study compared the effects of 10 mg/kg and 20 mg/kg daily doses of Epidolex with a placebo.

Both Epidolex groups had significantly fewer seizures than the placebo group.

  • Half the participants who took 20 mg/kg of Epidolex per day experienced 42 percent fewer seizures.
  • Half the participants who took 10 mg/kg per day experienced 37 percent fewer seizures.
  • Half the participants in the placebo group experienced 17 percent fewer seizures.

CBD for Dravet syndrome

Dravet syndrome is a rare form of epilepsy that causes seizures that don’t respond well to medication.

In a clinical trial, researchers compared the effect of 20 mg/kg of Epidolex taken daily with a placebo in participants age 2 to 18.

The researchers found that participants who took Epidolex experienced a significant drop in seizure frequency (39 percent decrease), compared with the placebo group (17 percent decrease).

CBD for tuberous sclerosis complex

Tuberous sclerosis complex is a rare condition that occurs in about 1 in 6,000 people. It’s a genetic disorder that causes noncancerous tumors to grow in various parts of your body. Tumors in the brain lead to seizures in some people.

In a clinical trial, researchers examined the effects of 25 mg/kg and 50 mg/kg of Epidolex per day, compared with a placebo, on a group of 148 patients with tuberous sclerosis complex.

The median improvement was 48 percent for the Epidolex group and 24 percent for the placebo.

CBD for other causes of seizures

Further research is needed to know if CBD is effective at treating other kinds of seizures. However, some early studies have found promising results.

Research has found evidence that CBD may…

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