In 1978, the first major life-changing study on CBD was done by “the Father of CBD,” Dr. Raphael Mechoulam and a team of South American researchers. This was a groundbreaking study on the potential application of CBD and the treatment of epilepsy.
That’s over 40 years ago. Impressively, there’s evidence that dates back much farther than that!! Like way farther…
And since that time, we’ve seen countless other studies backing up the initial findings and providing even more insight.
We’ve even seen an FDA-approved CBD-based pharmaceutical hit the shelves specifically for epilepsy.
So why is CBD for seizures and epilepsy so amazing? How does it work and what do you need to know about it?
Cannabis as Anti-Seizure Medicine: A Brief History
The first studies on the medical use of cannabis date back to the Chinese Emperor Shen Nung (about 2,700 B.C.). There are also more recent records in the Arabic and Islamic literature specifically mentioning cannabis as a treatment for seizures and epilepsy.
The first detailed modern description of cannabis as an anti-seizure medication was published in 1843 by Dr. W.B. O’Shaughnessy. After testing the behavioral effects of Cannabis indica in healthy animals and humans, he moved on to investigate the potential value of extracts of the plant in patients with different disorders. His findings are remarkable – perhaps the most impressive are his reports of the anti-seizure effects in a 40-days-old baby girl with recurrent convulsive seizures!
But this is all just cannabis. We didn’t actually even know about CBD until the 1940s!
It’s at this time that our knowledge of this compound really took off.
CBD for Seizures and Epilepsy
As we mentioned, the first actual study on CBD for seizures was done in 1978.
But it hasn’t really been until the last 20 years that the research has literally exploded!
Check this out – this shows the number of articles retrieved in PubMed by using the search terms ‘cannabis and epilepsy’, grouped by year of publication – and that’s just on PubMed:
And even more have been published since 2017. It’s seriously incredible.
So why does CBD seem to work so well for seizures? It’s all about balance.
Balance in the Brain
When the brain is balanced, everything is all good. It’s when that balance is disrupted that things go sideways.
A seizure is a sudden, uncontrolled electrical disruption in the brain. These disruptions occur when a part of the brain becomes overly excited or when nerves begin firing abnormally. This abnormal firing then spreads to the surrounding cells, causing a chain reaction, resulting in a seizure. The balance has been thrown off.
The job of the endocannabinoid system is to maintain balance, or homeostasis.
This system is made up of different parts – cannabinoids, cannabinoid receptors, and enzymes. The central nervous system is full of cannabinoid receptors. That includes the brain, where seizures start.
CBD works by helping to stabilize the activity in the brain by interacting with those receptors. We know from research that this could be thanks to a few different activities. First, CBD blocks N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors – over-activation of these has been linked to seizure activity. By blocking NDA receptors, CBD has to potential to halt that seizure activity.
Secondly, it also enhances gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors. GABA is the principal inhibitory neurotransmitter in the cerebral cortex, and its job is to keep neuronal excitation balanced. By enhancing GABA receptors, CBD can help maintain that balance, inhibiting seizures activity.
See, balance is key.
CBD for Seizures: Final Thoughts
Based on the research, it is clear that CBD is a very viable alternative to the available pharmaceutical drugs out there for seizures and epilepsy, often showing even greater results. For many of those millions of American suffering with seizures or epilepsy, both young and old, these discoveries have been really important.
As we move forward, with new research being done every day, it is certain we will continue to learn more about how CBD works and why it’s such a crucial treatment in this common, often debilitating, condition.