Around one third of people with epilepsy have drug-resistant epilepsy, which means traditional medication does not control their seizures. For people with drug-resistant epilepsy (also known as refractory epilepsy), the possibility that medical marijuana could help them reduce or even end seizures is, of course, exciting.
The medication was approved after several trials showed a significant reduction in seizures for people with these conditions (in combination with their existing anti-epilepsy drugs).
What is CBD?
In 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of a new drug called Epidiolex for the treatment of two severe forms of epilepsy:
It is possible to purchase CBD oil for seizures in adults from health food stores in most, but not all, US states (although the rules vary, and you should always check with your healthcare provider). Many companies promote the use of CBD oil for a range of conditions – from anxiety to insomnia to chronic pain – and it may be marketed as a solution to epilepsy too.
Here is everything we know about CBD oil and seizures.
Before the Texas law took effect, many patients were trying CBD oil on their own by visiting other states or ordering it online, which is a legal gray area. The problem with that, doctors say, is it’s difficult to determine the precise potency of the drug the patient is receiving.
Still, Texas’s CBD law is considered “pretty restrictive” compared to those involving cannabis in other states, said Katharine Neill Harris, Ph.D., a drug policy fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.
Teachers told Shena that Trysten was less distracted at school and that his performance had improved. In his first 30 days on his new treatment, he had just one seizure. He hasn’t felt this well for the past three years.
“My life has changed so much,” said Trysten, who turns 17 in July.
Meanwhile, the Texas law doesn’t permit people with any diagnosis besides intractable epilepsy to use CBD oil, even though some other states allow those with multiple sclerosis, late-stage cancer, Crohn’s disease and other conditions to access CBD oil or medical marijuana. That has frustrated some patients and advocates, but skeptics say more research must be done to evaluate whether and how CBD oil can treat those illnesses.
“I really wanted this medicine to work because of how many times pills have failed me,” said Trysten, who takes drops of the oil orally. “Once I started taking it, I felt so much better. I don’t have seizures.”
“This can be really beneficial to patients,” said Michael Watkins, M.D., assistant professor of pediatric neurology with McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). Watkins works at the Pediatric Epilepsy Clinic at UTHealth, where about 20 patients have been prescribed CBD oil. He said the stigma associated with taking medicine derived from cannabis is fading.