Medical content reviewed by Dr. Shatha Atiya | Updated on December 16, 2022
Let’s take a closer look at how medical marijuana may help people with epilepsy.
Medical marijuana can be a potent remedy for many chronic and debilitating illnesses. Including anxiety, cancer, chronic pain, depression, PTSD, as well as epilepsy. We’ve all witnessed the rise of marijuana as an alternative form of treatment. More and more patients suffering from serious health issues are turning to cannabis treatment. Medical marijuana is not only effective for short-term relief. It can also be helpful in the journey toward complete recovery.
What is the connection between medical marijuana and epilepsy?
Medical marijuana has shown immense potential when treating epilepsy and its related symptoms, with an estimated 1.2% or 3.44 million Americans having epilepsy. This treatment option has been especially beneficial for children who experience seizures.
In June 2018, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the use of Epidiolex. A CBD oil oral solution for the treatment of seizures associated with two rare forms of epilepsy:
- Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome
- Dravet Syndrome
The approval of Epidiolex showed that cannabis could indeed be a valid form of treatment. And many that were skeptical of marijuana as medicine had a change of heart.
Some hospitals support a medical marijuana regimen for epileptic children. For example, the Children’s Hospital Colorado. Still, they strongly urge parents to consult their doctors to determine if medical marijuana could be beneficial. As it may negatively impact the memory, behavior, and learning of these tiny human beings.
How does medical cannabis help patients with epilepsy?
Marijuana can help patients struggling with epilepsy significantly reduce their symptoms. To get the best results, patients must use the proper dosage and potency of the product. It is usually best to start with the lowest possible dosage if the patient is a first-time patient.
Before starting treatment, you must consult with a licensed medical marijuana doctor. During the consultation, you will have an in-depth conversation with a doctor experienced in treating patients with epilepsy. They will talk you through the risks and benefits of using cannabis treatment for seizures.
Knowledge of proper use will help mitigate the risk of side effects and ensure relief. It’s important that patients only consume medical cannabis while in the care of a specialist.
If used correctly, medical marijuana can help with various symptoms of epilepsy, such as:
Muscle stiffness is a notable symptom of epilepsy. After a patient experiences a seizure, they are bound to feel tightness in their muscles. And afterward, the patient may endure an adverse effect on their routine. So, how does medical cannabis address muscle stiffness?
Many might be familiar with the calming and relaxing effect marijuana has on users. And for this reason, epileptic patients use it to ease muscle stiffness. However, this benefit comes from anecdotal reports only. Hence the need to speak with an experienced medical marijuana doctor.
Fear & anxiety
Fear and anxiety will often rear their ugly heads for patients who deal with epilepsy. In more severe cases, patients may find themselves dealing with anxiety disorders.
Fortunately, medical marijuana works wonders to mitigate fear and anxiety. The chemical compounds in cannabis, CBD plus THC, induce several reactions in the body that reduce anxiety symptoms. Which is one of the reasons it helps patients suffering from PTSD and anxiety disorders.
Uncontrollable arm & leg movement
As mentioned earlier, patients with epilepsy have no control over the seizures they experience. Observable physical actions include hand rubbing, staring into space, and walking in circles. Additionally, there are jerky and abrupt movements that bring about crazy jolts and shocks in the body.
With a perfect dosage of cannabis-infused products, patients could somewhat find relief in their uncontrollable movements and the consequent pain they cause.
Lack of mental awareness
Loss of focus and mental awareness is another symptom of epilepsy. Patients will often lose consciousness or experience an altered state of mind that may leave them staring into space. Although these mind-altering seizures do not last for more than 30 to 40 seconds, they can be mistaken for behavioral or learning disorders.
In such cases, cannabis works to stimulate the mental awareness of the lost patient. As a result, they could regain their ability to focus and reignite their thoughts. Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC is usually responsible for these effects. Nonetheless, it is worth noting that THC is a legally confusing element. So, patients must only consume marijuana after consulting a qualified practitioner while following their respective state cannabis laws.
Side effects of using medical cannabis for epilepsy
The information above may support the use of medical marijuana to ease epilepsy-related symptoms. But, it is important to consider the possible side effects. Medical marijuana, just like any other opioid or allopathic medicine, may cause side effects, for example:
- Memory impairment
- Cognition issues
- Lung-related problems
Patients that do not follow their doctor’s advice are most likely to experience the downsides of a medical marijuana regimen. Therefore, patients should seek an expert’s opinion before using medical marijuana to treat their condition.
Should I use medical marijuana to ease the symptoms of epilepsy?
If traditional epilepsy medication proves ineffective for you, then medical marijuana is certainly an alternative to consider. Remember, speaking to a qualified medical marijuana doctor before making your decision is necessary. Who knows? Maybe medical marijuana might work for you.