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Cannabis’ Big Entrance: Treatment of Epilepsy

Cannabis’ holistic and healing powers may be best known nowadays for their ability to fight seizures due to the media storm around the Charlotte’s Web strain that was recently revealed to the world. While only recently known by the greater populace, studies on the anticonvulsant properties of cannabis have been conducted as far back as the early 1800s.

Epilepsy presents in roughly one percent of the general population as a neurological condition with a wide variety of symptoms based on its location in the brain. Depending on where the disease is focused, patients may suffer from a full spectrum of seizure types, from almost imperceptible breaks in consciousness (or absence seizures) to total body convulsions called grand mal seizures. A period of altered behavior and sensitivity to both light and sounds will prelude most seizures, but many can happen due to simple stress, low blood sugar, sleep loss and even boredom. Epilepsy’s most common causes are anything from birth injuries to head trauma, but it can also be idiopathic (having no known cause at all).

While there are anticonvulsant drugs that exist for controlling epilepsy, they have been noted to be effective only about 60% of the time while still possessing incredibly dangerous side effects. These effects can include emotional disorders, reduced red blood cell production and bone softening. Rarer side effects can present as loss of motor controls, comas and even death.

The research into cannabis’ anticonvulsant properties has been renewed in recent years due to the discovery of cannabidiol, or CBD. This chemical, when bred to flourish while breeding out THC, can make a strain (such as Charlotte’s Web) highly effective at treating seizures and helping to relieve the devastating effects of epilepsy, with none of the dangerous side effects of anticonvulsant drugs.