Epilepsy is a fairly common neurological disorder that affects an estimated 65 million people around the world. There are about 3 million people with epilepsy in the United States of America alone. Epilepsy is a central nervous system or neurological disorder that causes unprovoked recurrent seizures or periods of unusual behavior, sensations, and sometimes loss of awareness. A seizure can be defined as a sudden rush of electrical activity in the brain. There are two types of seizures associated with epilepsy, namely, generalized seizure which affects the whole brain as well as focal/partial seizure which affects just one part of the brain.
It should be noted that anyone can develop epilepsy irrespective of age, sex, race as well as ethnic background. Seizure symptoms often vary from person to person. Some epilepsy patients always stare blankly for a few seconds during a seizure, whereas others repeatedly twitch their arms or legs. Nevertheless, having a single seizure does not necessarily mean you have epilepsy because at least two unprovoked seizures are needed for an epilepsy diagnosis.
More than half of the people with epilepsy have no identifiable cause. In the other half the condition may be traced to other factors like genetic influence, head trauma, brain conditions, prenatal injury, infectious diseases, as well as developmental disorders. Some of the common symptoms of epilepsy include a staring spell, temporary confusion, loss of consciousness or awareness, uncontrollable jerking movements of the hands and legs, as well as psychological symptoms such as fear, anxiety and déjà vu.
The seizures caused by epilepsy can result in complications like falling, drowning, car accidents, pregnancy complications and even emotional health issues. It should be noted that there are other life threatening complications of epilepsy like Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP) and Status epilepticus. Status eplepticus occurs if an individual is in a state of continuous seizure activity lasting more than five minutes or in case of frequent recurrent seizures without regaining full consciousness in between them. People with status epilepticus also have an increased risk of permanent brain damage and death.
The treatment of epilepsy includes the use of medications, therapies and surgeries. Medication used in treating epilepsy could result in both mild and severe side effects like fatigue, dizziness, skin rash, weight gain, speech problems, depression, inflammation of organs like the liver as well as suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
There is mounting evidence that CBD, a key compound in medical cannabis can be used in treating epilepsy. This explains why in June 2018, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of CBD for the treatment of epilepsy. It should be noted that CBD had earlier been recommended for the treatment of seizures caused by Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, which are two rare forms of epilepsy. Studies have revealed that when CBD is taken with other anticonvulsant medications, it reduces the frequency and severity of seizures among people with these disorders.
A new clinical trial in 2018 found that less is more when it comes to treating epilepsy with CBD. The findings from the study revealed that Patients taking a 10-milligram (mg) daily dose of pharmaceutical grade cannabidiol (CBD) experienced nearly as great a reduction in seizures as patients on 20 mg, and with fewer side effects. During the study, a total of 225 patients suffering from Lennox-Gastaut syndrome were divided into three groups. It was found that taking 20 mg of Epidiolex a day had 42 percent fewer seizures, on average, compared with 37 percent fewer seizures in the group taking 10 mg of the drug, and a 17 percent reduction in the placebo group. It is imperative to note that this study is the third clinical trial to show that the cannabidiol medication Epidiolex is useful in treating two rare forms of epilepsy (Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome). This study, therefore proved that Epidiolex, which is made with CBD is a safe treatment for epilepsy.
Even though CBD oil has become trendy in curing many diseases, its ability to treat epilepsy is the only use that has garnered significant scientific evidence supporting its usefulness.
Sources:HealthLine Mayo Clinic Very Well Health Web MD
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