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The Role of Medical Marijuana in Treating Seizure Disorders

In recent years, medical marijuana or cannabis has proven to be a useful treatment option for people suffering from a wide range of ailments. But how effective is medical marijuana in treating seizure disorders like epilepsy?

Studies are ongoing to determine how medical marijuana and marijuana-derived products, like CBD oil, could treat those suffering from seizure disorders.

This guide will provide an overview of seizure disorders and explore ways marijuana may prove useful for patients.

What Are Seizure Disorders?

Seizure disorders” is a broad term that can be used to refer to various health disorders that lead to seizures. A seizure is a sudden burst of activity within the brain, which typically leads to various changes in a person’s movement, behavior, and sensory perceptions, among other things.

The most common kind of seizure disorder is epilepsy. Epilepsy is a brain disorder that causes a person to have multiple seizures. It’s quite a common problem, with estimates suggesting around 1 in every 26 people will develop it. It can affect anyone, regardless of their age, race, or gender.

Causes

One of the mysterious aspects of epilepsy and seizure disorders is that they don’t have a clear, identifiable cause in most patients. Research is ongoing to try to find out more about how these disorders work and what causes them, but most of the time, it can be very hard to tell. However, we do know that the following factors can make a person more likely to have seizure disorders:

  • Genetics: Certain types of seizure disorders are hereditary, passed down from one generation to the next in DNA. So, if someone has one or more close relatives with epilepsy, then there’s a higher chance that they will also suffer from it.
  • Head Injury: Those who have suffered serious head trauma, like injuring their heads in an auto accident or while playing contact sports, for example, also tend to be more likely to suffer from epilepsy.
  • Brain Problems: Various issues with the brain may trigger the development of seizure disorders as a kind of “side effect.” Brain tumors, for example, may contribute to seizure disorders, as well as blood vessel conditions or strokes.
  • Developmental Disorders: Seizure disorders like epilepsy have also been linked to developmental disorders such as autism. Some research has found that individuals who have disorders like ADHD might also be more likely to have epilepsy.

Symptoms

Seizure symptoms tend to vary from person to person. There are different kinds of seizures, some of which can be more serious and long-lasting than others. Below is a list of some of the common symptoms a patient suffering from seizure disorders may experience:

The Use of Medical Marijuana in Treating Seizure Disorders

So, how can medical marijuana help with all of this? Cannabis contains key natural compounds called cannabinoids, like CBD, which are able to interact with receptors in the human body’s endocannabinoid system, or ECS.

The ECS is a complex cell-signaling system that can influence and affect a range of bodily processes and sensations. It has an impact on things like tiredness, appetite, mood, feelings of pain, inflammation, immune responses, and more. When we consume marijuana products via various marijuana consumption methods, cannabinoids can make the ECS act in certain ways.

Studies have found that CBD can be helpful for treating people with seizure disorders. Scientists aren’t sure how or why it has this benefit. But studies so far suggest that CBD may help to adjust mineral levels and calm inflammation in the brain, which can help to limit the frequency and severity of seizures.

Safety and Side Effects of Medical Marijuana Use for Seizure Disorders

While medical marijuana has been shown to benefit people with seizure disorders, it’s important to understand that it’s still a drug with a risk of possible side effects.

Cannabis products that are high in THC, for example, can cause a few with low tolerance to feel paranoid. Also, almost everyone usually gets the “munchies.”

There are legal considerations regarding the use of medical marijuana to treat epilepsy. In states with medical marijuana card programs, people with seizure disorders can usually obtain a card and legally buy marijuana from a cannabis dispensary. However, there are other states and regions where cannabis products are illegal and cannot be used for medical purposes.

Overall, more studies are needed to see how cannabis can help those with seizure disorders. But the research has been promising. There are clear signs that epilepsy may be eased with the proper usage of cannabinoids, like CBD. Patients dealing with seizure disorders may therefore like to consult with their doctor about the possibility of using cannabis to ease some of their symptoms.

By Shannon Lyon

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