Epilepsy is a brain disorder that leads to recurring seizures that can cause severe damage to the brain and body. According to data released in August of this year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention nearly half a million children in the U.S. actively had epilepsy in 2015.
Even though the condition is widely recognized and known in the public, it’s poorly understood. Researchers from the CDC report that adults with epilepsy have challenges with work, transportation, and affording medical care. The complex condition is severe and difficult for most.
Students with epilepsy are more likely to fall behind in school, and children with epilepsy are strange, more likely to live in low-income households. If not appropriately treated the condition can lead to an early death. Epilepsy though will affect people differently and can induce many different kinds of seizures, and some people will have multiple types of seizures as well as other medical conditions that complicate health and treatment.
Different conditions can cause epilepsy, such as stroke, brain tumors, head injury, central nervous system infections, and genetic predispositions. Doctors will make neurological and blood examinations in order to diagnose the disease. The exact causes of epileptic seizures aren’t well known, but they are thought to stem from electrical malfunctions within the brain.
The Epilepsy Society suggests the condition can be inherited genetically, and also that environmental and psychological factors can trigger genes that in the development of epilepsy. Symptomatic changes in the brain from disease and injury are also causes, such as in the cases of tuberous sclerosis and neurofibromatosis.
Doctors may go as far as to surgically remove parts of the brain in order to treat severe epilepsy. This is most common when tests reveal that seizures are originating in a well-defined area of the brain that isn’t overlapping with regions that are responsible for vital functions such as speech, language, motor function, vision or hearing.
Vagus nerve stimulation is another type of therapy used to treat epilepsy in which a battery-powered device sends bursts of electricity through the vagus nerve into the brain. Some children with epilepsy are prescribed a Ketogenic diet high in fats and low in carbohydrates. This, however, can lead to dehydration, constipation, stunted growth, and the buildup of uric acid in the blood causing kidney stones.
The majority of epileptic patients, however, are prescribed anti-epileptic drugs and various [anxiolytics] or [antidepressants] to manage their condition and comorbid symptoms. Dr. Gaillard, chief of Child Neurology and Epilepsy from Children’s National Health System published findings of a study in Medical Express. His team found that the medication Keppra, or Levetiracetam, was the first and second choice of medication prescribed to 74% of U.S. children being treated for epilepsy.
Over a third of the epileptic patient’s seizures don’t respond to medications, such as Keppra, which causes abnormal behavior and mental health issues. The serious potential side effects of Keppra are listed as hallucinations, neuropathic pain, increased risk of infections, and cognitive and motor skill impairment. A systematic review of Levetiracetam in 2016 found that the drug frequently causes aggression, irritability, hyperactivity, and nervousness in children with epilepsy.
The New York Times: Health Guide in October of 2017 published a review of Epilepsy and medications. They stated that all antiepileptic drugs can increase the risks of suicidal thoughts and behavior. Suicidal ideation can occur in as little as one week after beginning treatment. In their long list of epileptic medications, every one of them is cited as causing severe adverse reactions from life-threatening skin reactions, to depression and death. Thankfully, there are promising alternative options for those who suffer from epilepsy.
In April of 2017, the results of an extraordinary multi-center, randomized, controlled trial were published that inspired news headlines around the world. Dr. Helen Cross and a team of researchers reported that [CBD], a non-psychoactive compound derived from marijuana, reduced seizure frequency compared to a [placebo]. They studied children with the Dravet syndrome who had previously taken anti-epileptic medications but had no positive response to the drugs.
These results of these studies give hope to children and adults with epilepsy who haven’t found relief with other medicines. Because CBD is much safer than traditional antiepileptic drugs it may actually be much more effective, but future and more in-depth studies are desperately needed.
The Director of Pediatric Epilepsy Research, Dr. Maria Roberta Cilio, from the University of California, wrote an article in the journal, Epilepsia, compelling her colleagues and the federal government to reconsider CBD as a medicine. She writes,
“Pure CBD appears to be an excellent candidate among phytocannabinoids to evaluate in patients with treatment-resistant epilepsy”.
Epilepsy is a serious condition that requires professional medical attention and treatment. Always speak with a physician and medical marijuana professional before beginning to use medical marijuana to treat conditions of the brain. A growing mountain of anecdotal evidence from patients around the world supports the use of CBD oil in treating epileptic seizures, and most U.S. states with medical marijuana programs allow CBD oil to be recommended for the treatment of seizures and other conditions. Check out our list of cannabis strains that have been reported to help with epilepsy below, and follow the conditions links throughout this article to learn more about current research into medical marijuana.
· [[Granddaddy Purple]]
· [[AK – 47]]
· [[Green Crack]]
· [[Master Kush]]
· [[Blue Cheese]]
· [[Lambsbread Skunk]]