CBD and Epilepsy
What is CBD?
CBD is a non-psychoactive compound of cannabis that has numerous medical benefits. Cannabidiol is considered as a safe and non-addictive substance. The most effective method to get CBD is through CO2 extraction. It is acquired by separating the oil from the cannabis plant matter under high pressure and low temperatures.
Cannabidiol influences the endocannabinoid system of the human body. This system includes three components, such as receptors, enzymes, and endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids bind with receptors that exist throughout the whole body and help to keep internal functions running smoothly. There are two kinds of receptors, they are CB1 and CB2.
CB1-type receptors are located mainly in the CNS. They are responsible for coordination functions, movements, appetite control, pain, mood, and memory functions. The CB2 receptors are found in the peripheral nervous system. These receptors also influence pain and inflammation processes. CBD activates them and this way provides medical benefits for health. Besides, CBD influences non-cannabinoid receptors, such as the 5ht serotonin receptor and TRPV1 receptors. It helps to treat psychotic disorders as well as chronic pain and inflammation.
Besides, CBD has other therapeutic properties that can be helpful in the treatment of anxiety, stress, and depression. Some studies also prove that CBD can reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Moreover, scientists argue that cannabidiol is effective for reducing appetite. In addition, CBD is commonly used for PTSD treatment because it relieves its symptoms, such as anxiety, negative memories, and nightmares.
How people started using CBD in medicine
Back in 2737 BC, Chinese Emperor Sheng Nung started using cannabis-infused tea to improve physical well-being. This is the first documented case of using marijuana for medical purposes.
It is believed that Queen Victoria was the first woman who used cannabis for PMS. Historians argue that she used marijuana to reduce menstrual cramps. Cannabis was brought to England by Dr. O’Shaughnessy in 1840 and prescribed to Queen Victoria by her physician.
In 1839 William B. O’Shaughnessy, an Irish physician, published a study that described the therapeutic effects of marijuana. After that, medical researchers started considering the application of this plant in medicine. Thus, the work of William B. O’Shaughnessy led to more profound researches on cannabis compounds. Nearly a century after his study was published, scientists revealed cannabinoids.
Robert S. Cahn, a British chemist, was the first person who discovered the partial structure of Cannabinol, which later in 1940 was identified by him as fully formed. Two years later, the first cannabinoid was isolated by Roger Adams.
In 1963 Dr.Raphael Mechoulam identified the stereochemistry of CBD which helped to understand the effects of CBD. This was a great scientific breakthrough.
In 1978 the Controlled Substances Therapeutic Research Act passed the bill which legally recognized the medical properties of cannabis.
In the 1980s Dr. Mechoulam researched the potential use of CBD for epilepsy treatment. In his study, daily doses of 300mg of CBD were taken by a group of 8 individuals. Surprisingly, just after 4 months of such treatment, half of the people stopped experiencing seizures while the rest of the group had a decrease in seizures frequency. This study had the potential to improve the lives of millions of people suffering from epilepsy. But because of the stigmas towards marijuana, this discovery was not publicized.
Fortunately, less than a decade later, there was a discovery of the body’s Endocannabinoid System or ECS. It’s a network of receptors that connect with receptors found in cannabinoids. This finding led to an explosion of interest in cannabis.
The first experience of using CBD for Epilepsy
In the 2000s people started actively sharing with others their personal experience of using cannabis. It was at that time, when an amazing story of a young girl, Charlotte Figi, was spread all over the world. Charlotte was born in 2006 with a rare form of epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome. It affects nearly 1 in every 16,000-21,000 infants. At the age of four, Charlotte couldn’t walk, talk, and eat anymore because she experienced 300 seizures per week. Her parents desperately tried various options of modern medicine, but soon they realized that traditional treatment can’t help. So they decided to turn to cannabis. Surprisingly, the consumption of a small dose of CBD oil helped to stop Charlotte’s seizures almost immediately. Luckily, CBD worked for her! Now Charlotte has only 2-3 seizures per month, which is comparatively a huge decrease. Eventually, Charlotte managed to restore her normal functions, so now she has an opportunity to live a full life. Her parents say that their daughter is an absolutely happy girl.
CBD and Epilepsy
After the FDA approved prescriptions of cannabidiol in 2018, patients suffering from epilepsy started using the medicine called Epidolex. This drug is approved to treat seizures in severe forms of child-onset epilepsy. Despite the fact that CBD treatment for seizures is highly effective, Epidolex is not a wonder drug because not everyone is equally responsive to it.
Scientists studied this drug in numerous clinical trials. Their researchers used a control group in which individuals took the placebo while others got different doses of CBD. Such ‘gold standard’ studies proved the effectiveness of cannabinoids for epilepsy treatment.
Although the action of CBD and seizures is not completely understood, it is assumed that CBD affects the nervous system via a different route than other antiepileptic medications. It helps to take control of seizures by influencing receptors that are not touched by other drugs. As CBD blocks GPR55 receptors, the cannabinoid is helpful for patients whose epilepsy is caused by the stimulation of these receptors.
written by Tia, Editor and Contributor at AskGrowers, who shared the article with MMJ Herb