Epilepsy affects about 200,000 Americans every year and is considered the fourth most common neurological disorder. Also referred to as a seizure disorder, epilepsy is caused by excessive and irregular nerve cell activity in the brain.
Epilepsy can occur at any age, but it is more frequent in young children and older adults over 65. Even though there is no single cause for epilepsy, research shows it can develop as a result of family history, head injuries, a decline in mental function, or brain infections.
Whether it is caused by genetics or trauma, epilepsy usually stems from abnormal changes in the central nervous system. These changes in the brain’s development or wiring disrupt the activity of neurons, the brain cells in charge of transmitting messages. These messages are transmitted in the form of electrical impulses, so an interruption in these impulses can cause seizures that affect almost every part of the body.
Since epilepsy involves interruptions in brain activity, seizures can affect any function your brain helps regulate. The most common signs and symptoms of epilepsy include:
- Short attention blackouts
- Frequent stumbling or sudden falls
- Repeated unusual movements
- Sudden feelings of anger or fear
- Staring spells
- Random jerking movements
- Loss of awareness
- Increased anxiety
- Temporary confusion
The symptoms of seizure disorders vary depending on the types and severity of seizures. Most people with epilepsy usually will have similar episodes each time, so symptoms will likely be the same every time.
Once diagnosed, doctors often begin treatment for epilepsy and seizures with medication. A regimen of prescription medications can help patients decrease the frequency and intensity of seizures. In some cases, anti-epileptic medicines can help people become seizure-free. Younger patients may eventually be able to discontinue medication and live a seizure-free life.
Because there is no cure-all medicine for epilepsy, the type of medication and dosage will be different for each individual case. If over the counter or prescription medications are not effective after a certain time, doctors may recommend surgery or alternative treatments like cannabidiol.
In 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of cannabidiol (CBD) medication Epidiolex for the treatment of seizures. This marks the first time the FDA recognized cannabidiol as an official alternative to combat the symptoms of seizures.
Several studies suggest CBD has anticonvulsant properties which may decrease the severity and frequency of seizures. A 2017 study reported, “Our findings demonstrate anticonvulsant and neuroprotective effects of CBD preventive treatment in the intrahippocampal pilocarpine epilepsy model, either as single or multiple administrations, reinforcing the potential role of CBD in the treatment of epileptic disorders.”
While research is still being conducted on the link between CBD and seizures, there is no doubt there’s a connection between the two. The FDA approval of Epidiolex is an important sign of what is to come for CBD remedies, which may become soon become standard medical treatments for epilepsy.
Unlike other cannabis compounds like THC, hemp-derived CBD has no psychoactive properties. In other words, CBD from hemp will not get users high. Most importantly, CBD has none of the harmful side effects associated with many pharmaceutical medications for epilepsy. Moreover, there are no risks of overdose or other considerable health risks linked to hemp-derived CBD.
In the last few years, the number of CBD brands in the market has multiplied due to the increasing demand for CBD products. However, not all brands offer good-quality products. For the best CBD products, find a trusted CBD manufacturer that offers CBD formulas tested by independent labs. Make sure their results are available online so you can verify the contents in the bottle are congruent with the information on their label.