Epilepsy is an issue that is generally misunderstood by most of the population. For one, it isn’t a single disease like many others. Epilepsy is more of a family of disorders that range in severity, frequency, and which nerves are affected. One symptom does unify all forms of epilepsy, though: seizures. These seizures have an extremely debilitating effect on those who suffer from epilepsy. Since the seizures can strike at any time, having epilepsy means many people are unable to hold down a job, or even legally have a driver’s license.
What is CBD?
CBD, short for cannabidiol, is one of over a hundred different cannabinoids found within the cannabis plant. Along with THC, tetrahydrocannabinol, it is one of the most prominent cannabinoids within the plant. CBD is also the source of most of cannabis’ health benefits, and as more and more studies examine it, scientists are rapidly finding more uses for it. One such study has recently shown that CBD can have a profound effect on children and youths with a particularly nasty form of epilepsy.
Dravet Syndrome is an extremely rare form of epilepsy, affecting somewhere between .0025% and .005% of the population. It is also an extremely difficult form of epilepsy to treat, as it has proven resistant, if not altogether immune to, most conventional anticonvulsants. The syndrome is extremely pervasive, characterized by multiple seizures daily, primarily affects children and adolescents, can be fatal in some instances, and is entirely incurable. Altogether it is a nightmare to treat and even worse to suffer from. But it’s possible that CBD can reverse that.
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine examined the use of CBD in children and adolescents who suffer from Dravet Syndrome. The study was rigorously controlled with a CBD pill group and a placebo control group. It was also a double-blind study, meaning that not only the two groups of subjects, but the researchers themselves as well, did not know which pill they were taking. This is generally considered the best way to conduct a medical study, as it eliminates possible patient or researcher bias. The study was outstandingly promising for the future of epilepsy treatment; the CBD group’s instances of epileptic seizures were cut in half, as opposed to almost no change in the control group. Furthermore, a small amount of the CBD group actually became completely seizure-free from the treatment. Altogether, the study points to the use of CBD as an effective treatment for epilepsy sufferers.
One such sufferer was a five-year-old girl named Charlotte Figi. She was a child diagnosed as an infant with Dravet Syndrome, and it was ruining her life. She would have dozens of seizures a day, sometimes hitting over a hundred. It basically made her non-functioning. Worse, it inflicted pain on her constantly, as she would break bones and teeth and suffer head injuries constantly from her violent attacks. Her parents tried all manners of legitimate medicine, but not only did none work, several nearly killed her from the side effects. She was resuscitated several times after the supposed medicines stopped her from breathing. Her parents, hopeless, eventually signed a do not resuscitate order, fully expecting their daughter to die soon, as that would be preferable to the state she was in. Fortunately, they decided to give CBD treatment a shot, and it has worked wonders. Her seizures are now down from 1,200 a month to just three, and those three are shorter and less violent. CBD has given Charlotte a real chance at a normal life.
No medicine is completely harmless, nor a magic drug that can save everyone in all instances. Just as Charlotte was resistant to some of the traditional anticonvulsants, others can be more responsive to those than they are to CBD. CBD use also was accompanied in some instances by side effects, such as fatigue or diarrhea. But instead of being treated like an illegal drug, CBD should continue to be studied carefully by medical scientists, as it could be the key to saving many more like Charlotte from a seemingly hopeless situation.