The word convulsion is sometimes used as a synonym for seizure, but not all convulsions are caused by seizures. A person having a convulsion may briefly lose consciousness and experience confusion afterward. The entire body may suddenly shake and have uncontrollable muscle spasms. Convulsions can stop breathing, cause loss of bowel and bladder control, and can last for up from a few seconds up to 15 minutes.
While not all convulsions are due to seizures, generalized seizures include convulsions and are characterized by “blacking out” often accompanied by falling, becoming stiff and then having convulsions.
The most common type of seizure is a tonic-clonic seizure or grand mal. Tonic refers to the phase in which the body stiffens, and clonic refers to the following phase of convulsion and jerking of the limbs and face. Some people may experience only tonic, only clonic, or cyclic experiences of both phases. After seizures, people will be lethargic, confused, and want to sleep. It’s important to note that, contrary to popular belief, nothing should be placed in the mouth during a seizure, but rather turning patients on one side can help to prevent choking.
Convulsions are caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain that can be difficult to identify. Chemicals in the blood and infections can cause seizures. Head trauma, stroke, and lack of oxygen to the brain, or genetic defects can trigger or cause convulsions and seizures. Medical conditions that affect levels of blood sugars, such as type 1 diabetes and hypoglycemia, can cause convulsions, as well as B6 vitamin deficiency.
A variety of factors that affect the brain and body are responsible for the causes of many types of seizures and convulsions. Alcohol, barbiturates, intoxication and [benzodiazepine] withdrawal can cause convulsions. Electric shock will induce a seizure, as well as some venomous bites or stings by snakes or other insects. Seizures caused by high fever, or febrile seizures, are also commonly observed in epileptic children.
In some extreme cases such as that of Richard Shane as reported in Scientific American, doctors may go as far as to surgically remove portions of the brain to stop epileptic seizures. Doctors are resorting to surgery due to the fact that nearly one-third of patients don’t respond to medication.
An article this year in Medical Express quotes findings from a study led by the division chief of Child Neurology and Epilepsy, Neurophysiology and Critical Care Neurology at Children’s National Health System, Dr. William Gaillard. They cite Dr. Gaillard’s findings stating that about 74% of children in the study had been prescribed Levetiracetam, also known as Keppra, as the first and second choice of medication to treat epilepsy.
Reading epileptic patient forums would give one the impression that Keppra is a medication that may or may not help with seizures, but most likely will cause abnormal behavior and mental health problems. A 2016 systematic review on the safety of the drug Levetiracetam discussed that aggression, irritability, hyperactivity, and nervousness were frequently observed in those using Keppra. Serious potential side effects for the name brand version of the drug are listed as hallucinations, numbness, and pain; risk of infection, motor skills impairment, and even severe allergic reactions.
The review cites studies that show the drug commonly causes somnolence, a condition in which one has an abnormally strong desire to sleep for long periods. The study concludes by stating that behavioral problems and somnolence are the prevalent adverse events associated with the drug. While that doesn’t sound so bad, what is meant by behavioral changes is that children on the drug can become depressed, develop anxiety disorders, and even have suicidal ideation.
If there is one condition that medical marijuana has proven to benefit the most, it could be epileptic seizures. [Phytocannabinoids], such as [THC], [CBD], and [terpenoids] derived from marijuana interact with the body’s [endocannabinoid system]. This system is comprised of groups of endogenous receptors and substances that bind with them and works to regulate multiple body functions tied to pain management, appetite, sleep, and other neurological and biological processes.
Director of Pediatric Epilepsy Research, Dr. Maria Roberta Cilio, from the University of California, makes her case for CBD as a treatment for epilepsy in the journal, Epilepsia. She cites studies proving that CBD has anxiolytic, anti-apoptotic, neuroprotective, and anti-inflammatory effects. She writes,
“Pure CBD appears to be an excellent candidate among phytocannabinoids to evaluate in patients with treatment-resistant epilepsy”.
Dr. Ethan B. Russo hails cannabis in his article Cannabis and epilepsy: An ancient treatment returns to the fore, published in the 2017 May Issue of Epilepsy & Behavior.
A popular study led by J. Helen Cross from the University College London, U.K. inspired news articles around the world by concluding that, compared to a placebo, CBD reduced the frequency of drug-resistant seizures in Dravet Syndrome, an infantile onset developmental and epileptic encephalopathy. No current medications have worked to treat this condition besides CBD.
Marijuana will affect each person differently according to mental and physical health, strain, dosage, a method of administration and other factors. Consult with a physician and medical marijuana professional about using cannabis. Consider the links below to High CBD strains of medical marijuana that can help with convulsions and possibly prevent epileptic fits.
· [[Green Crack]]
· [[Lambsbread Skunk]]