Marijuana was already introduced into the US by early settlers. Thus, it is not a new drug and it has been used for both medical and recreational purposes from the very beginning. But could it be used to treat epilepsy?
For starters, marijuana was first introduced to the US in the 1700s by early European settlers who needed to produce hemp.
A book from 1850 with the title; United States Pharmacopeia was the first reference of the drug’s use for medicinal purposes. According to Epilepsia, the Journal of the International League against Epilepsy, marijuana was used in ancient China as early as 2,700m BC to treat a range of conditions. These included; gout, menstrual disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, malaria, and constipation. Medieval time evidence shows that the drug was used to treat nausea and vomiting, inflammation, pain, fever and epilepsy.
In 1970, it was given a Schedule 1 Drug label in the US, essentially making it an illegal substance. As such, any studies on it have been scarce
Claims and findings
According to many people who suffer from epilepsy, marijuana helps with reducing the frequency of their seizures. However, there’s little scientific evidence to prove this. To worsen matters, researchers cannot just go out there and study marijuana: they must apply for a license to do so at the Drug Enforcement Agency. They also need permission for the National Institute of Drug Abuse. Needless to say, this has slowed down their pace when it comes to researching marijuana.
That said, there have been a handful of studies that have successfully been conducted on marijuana’s medicinal value. From the findings, Tetrahydrocannabinoil (or THC), a psychoactive element, comes out as one of the ingredients of cannabis that has medicinal value. The other compound is Cannabinoil (or CBD), a non-psychoactive element that doesn’t give you a high. So far, studies point towards CBD being the plants most beneficial medicinal compound.
Based on the first research, tens of studies are ongoing across the world top check whether CBD can be formulated into a drug that treats the symptoms of epilepsy.
How it works
THC and CBD are cannabinoids. They bind with specific receptors in the human brain. They are also known to relieve pain, especially one that emanates from conditions such as multiple sclerosis and HIV and Aids. CBD binds with pain and other receptors and has anti-inflammatory properties. No one can tell for sure how it works in treating symptoms of epilepsy. However, some studies shed light on its efficacy in reducing seizures for people with epilepsy.
Epilepsia has published a number of such studies, which have different results. According to some studies, CBD truly reduced the number of seizures. But according to other studies, it did not. This boils down to methods used as some methods work better than others.
As such, there has been an appeal to check how marijuana could be used to treat epilepsy. If it could be used, researchers must prove its effectiveness, solve the issue of potency and recommend how it should be administered. Technically speaking, the drug’s potency varies from plant to plant as all strains are not the same. The method of consumption can also alter its potency. For instance, if you ingest it, you’re bound to get a different experience from someone who smoked it.
Most patients with epilepsy agree that marijuana is an effective drug when used to treat their condition. However, all of its effects are yet to be known, especially when used alongside other types of medication.
Most anti-seizure drugs are known to lead to memory loss and marijuana is not an exception. When this happens, patients tend to forget to take their medication. According to a study published in the National Academies of Sciences, children tend to lose some of their cognitive abilities once they are exposed to cannabis.
The drug’s side-effects also depend on the consumption method. For instance, when ingested, the impact is different compared to when marijuana is smoked. If you’ve unsuccessfully tried all traditional remedies to treat epilepsy, consult your doctor for a better understanding of the various options available to you as far as marijuana goes. But first, make sure that you live in a state that allows for the consumption of marijuana.
In the event that you live in a state that doesn’t allow the use of marijuana, there are medical options that you and your doctor can explore. At the same time, your doctor can share the latest research news with you to see what works best for you.