Medical marijuana has been legally deemed a viable treatment option for various conditions, including cancer, HIV infection or AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injuries, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathy, Huntington’s disease, and epilepsy.
Currently, 46 states including New York and the District of Columbia have passed legislation authorizing the medical use of cannabis (aka marijuana) and/or its non-psychoactive chemical compound cannabidiol (CBD) to treat epilepsy—a neurological disorder characterized by seizures, convulsions, and loss of consciousness.
Conventional treatments are unable to control seizures for approximately 30 percent of people with epilepsy. Medical marijuana, and CBD specifically, have been proven to reduce the number and severity of seizures in such patients. Studies have shown that CBD is “responsible for the positive influence on seizure,” as opposed to marijuana’s psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinols (THC) component, according to the American Psychological Association.
The nonprofit Epilepsy Foundation, which advocates on behalf of those with the disorder, continuously campaigns for safe and legal access to medical marijuana, CBD, and related research.
“There is no ‘one size fits all’ treatment for epilepsy, and around 30 [to] 40 percent of individuals living with epilepsy live with uncontrolled or intractable seizures, despite available treatments,” reads a statement from the foundation. “Some people living with epilepsy and seizures and their providers have reported beneficial effects and reduced seizure activity when using medical cannabis or cannabidiol (CBD) and therefore turn to it when other treatments have failed.”
A column published in the peer-reviewed Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience Journal (ICNS) titled “Medical Marijuana for Epilepsy?” analyzed multiple studies linking the plant and its derivatives to beneficial effects in patients with epilepsy. One report followed two adult subjects given medical marijuana to control focal epilepsy. After completing treatments, they experienced “ complete seizure control” and after discontinuing, “exacerbation of convulsions.” In another survey, 24 percent of respondents reported marijuana helpful in relieving their epilepsy symptoms.
“There is no ‘one size fits all’ treatment for epilepsy, and around 30 [to] 40 percent of individuals living with epilepsy live with uncontrolled or intractable seizures, despite available treatments.”
“Many conventional anti-epileptic drugs are poorly tolerated by persons who experience adversities such as irritability, aggressive behavior, and/or insomnia,” the report explains. “However, cannabidiol-enriched cannabis induces fewer such problems; yet, it still may provide benefits in mood, sleep, and alertness.”
While research continues into the exact biomechanics of CBD and associated compounds in helping to remedy seizures, the ICNS piece notes their restorative effects on the brain’s neuronal balance and complex endocannabinoid system.
The latter “provides on-demand protection against convulsive activity, having a major role in regulating the central nervous system,” it states. “Exogenous cannabinoids reportedly mimic endocannabinoid activity in reducing seizures and countering neurodegeneration.”
In June 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first prescription CBD-based formula, Epidiolex (cannabidiol, CBD) oral solution, for patients with two forms of epilepsy: Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut syndromes. Multiple studies reported drops in seizures and convulsions among users.
Medical cannabis and related drugs are generally prescribed in conjunction with other medication necessary to treat such disorders.
To obtain a prescription, patients must visit a doctor who is registered with the New York State Department of Health as a practitioner within the program, and has the proper licensing and certifications. They must undergo a consultation with the physician, have a documented diagnosis of epilepsy, and exhibit symptoms. If the patient meets all these criteria, the physician will issue them a medical marijuana certification, which they can use to purchase the holistic treatment from an authorized dispensary.
All organizations caution patients of potential side effects they may experience, including nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness, mild memory impairment, difficulty concentrating, and anxiety. Every patient reacts differently, so all are evaluated, with dosages prescribed on a case-by-case basis.
Northport Wellness Center Wellness Alliance Member Natural Pain Solutions was one of the first medical practices recognized by New York State to specialize in medical marijuana treatment. Under the medical direction of Amir Herman, D.O., Natural Pain Solutions can evaluate your condition and provide you with the necessary certifications.
To schedule an appointment or for more information, visit NaturalPainSolutionsNY.com or call (631) 486-7698.