CBD oil is a carrier oil mixed with the compound cannabidiol, or CBD. CBD is one of many different types of cannabinoids found mainly in the cannabis plant.
CBD oil may help with some symptoms of seizures and epilepsy, though most people prefer to use the isolated CBD compound as a treatment.
There has been a recent spike in research into compounds such as CBD, fueled partly by more open legislation surrounding cannabis in general.
It is essential to be aware of any side effects or risks when taking CBD oil, and it is essential to work closely with a doctor to decide if CBD oil is a suitable treatment option.
Keep reading to learn more about cannabis and CBD oil for seizures.
Is CBD legal? Hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3% THC are legal federally but still illegal under some state laws. Cannabis-derived CBD products, on the other hand, are illegal federally but legal under some state laws. Check local legislation, especially when traveling. Also, keep in mind that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have not approved nonprescription CBD products, which may be inaccurately labeled.
CBD oil is a mixture of cannabidiol (CBD) and a carrier oil, such as olive, coconut, or other ingestible oils.
Cannabidiol is one of the main compounds in the cannabis plant. The other most familiar compound is Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which causes the “high” when smoking or ingesting cannabis.
CBD is not psychoactive and will not cause the changes in perception associated with cannabis use.
However, some CBD oils that manufacturers label as full-spectrum or broad-spectrum may contain other compounds. Ingredients may include other cannabinoids or terpenes, depending on the manufacturer and the quality of the oil.
Some CBD oil manufacturers will include CBD and a small amount of these compounds in their oils. They suggest that these compounds work together to enhance some of the effects in the body, a process known as the entourage effect.
Seizures are surges of electrical activity in the brain that occur at inappropriate times. Underlying conditions, such as epilepsy, can cause seizures.
About 30% of people with epilepsy have difficulty controlling their symptoms using traditional methods. These people may want to talk to their doctor about using CBD for seizures.
CBD may play a role in helping to reduce seizures in some cases. That said, cannabis research takes time. The Epilepsy Foundation note that although there is some evidence to suggest that CBD may help control seizures, scientists have struggled to expand on this research due to the strict government regulations surrounding cannabis.
Cannabis products containing more than 0.3% of THC remain illegal in most states and countries worldwide. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have approved Epidolex, a schedule V drug that contains CBD.
Although Epidolex is the only FDA-approved drug to utilize CBD, other products that contain CBD, such as oils and edibles, are legal across the United States, provided they contain less than 0.3% THC.
Research has grown in recent years thanks to the rescheduling of CBD, and newer studies support the claim that CBD products might help treat certain groups of people with epilepsy.
However, researchers did not control the dosage or preparation of CBD in the majority of studies using CBD products, so researchers must continue to explore this area.
Some experts think CBD may be particularly beneficial for two rare forms of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, and Dravet syndrome. The syndromes typically appear in childhood, resist treatment, and cause severe symptoms, including seizures.
Their report notes the importance of the drug’s uniform strength and consistent delivery. This can give a person taking Epidiolex the confidence that they are getting the exact dose they need.
Epidiolex contains about 98% purified CBD, so it is likely to have a greater, more consistent effect than other forms of CBD isolates and oil.
Anecdotally, people, especially those with difficult to treat symptoms, have used other forms of CBD and CBD oils to treat symptoms of epilepsy and other concerns.
Anyone considering using CBD and broad-spectrum oils should talk to a doctor before using them to discuss their options.
Children with epilepsy whose symptoms do not respond well to conventional treatments may also benefit from using CBD. For instance, the FDA have approved Epidiolex for people over the age of 2 with Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndromes.
A review in the Journal of Clinical Neurophysiology notes that CBD, either isolated or part of a CBD-enriched herbal extract, helps decrease seizure frequency in children with treatment-resistant epilepsy.
A second review in Epilepsia notes that even though evidence suggests CBD likely reduces seizures among children with drug-resistant epilepsy, these results do not extend to other cannabis compounds in the plant. Researchers think that CBD is the only accepted compound with these properties.
As for long term effectiveness, CBD may not be suitable for all children. A study in CNS Drugs notes that over 4 years, CBD was effective in about 27% of children with treatment-resistant epilepsy. However, about 81% of participants experienced side effects, and about 23% experienced severe side effects.
There are several potential risks and side effects that people need to be aware of when using CBD oil for epilepsy and seizures.
CBD oil usually causes few side effects, which are typically mild. Common side effects from CBD may include:
- sleepiness or fatigue
- an upset stomach
- changes in weight
- changes in appetite
For some people, CBD may make it unsafe for them to operate heavy machinery or drive.
There may be a link between CBD use and suicidal ideation in some cases. One 2020 article notes a correlation between the two but emphasizes that CBD may not be responsible for this outcome.
More research will help to determine the link between CBD and suicidal ideation. Anyone using CBD should watch for any unusual signs and changes in behavior.
If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:
- Ask the tough question: “Are you considering suicide?”
- Listen to the person without judgment.
- Call 911 or the local emergency number, or text TALK to 741741 to communicate with a trained crisis counselor.
- Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
- Try to remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours per day at 800-273-8255. During a crisis, people who are hard of hearing can call 800-799-4889.
Possible liver damage
CBD may increase the risk of liver damage in some people, especially when taken in combination with other medications. Anyone with a history of liver damage should work with a doctor to monitor their liver function if they choose to use CBD.
Although CBD is a natural compound, it might still interact with some drugs. Always talk to a doctor before using CBD to check for any contraindications.
Some medications, for example, those that take the CYP450 enzymatic pathway, carry a caution on the label warning people not to drink grapefruit juice while taking them, as it can interfere with the drugs.
Using CBD can carry similar potential risks.
People must also be aware of drug and herb interactions. This is especially important for those with liver or renal disease, as unmonitored changes in their blood levels can be dangerous.
Research into plant products and how they may interact with certain drugs is in its early stages. However, some research shows that certain herbs may interact with CBD and other electrolytes taking the CYP450 pathway, such as:
- milk thistle
- Ginkgo biloba
- St. John’s wort
Ensuring purity is an crucial factor for anyone looking for CBD oil. This is especially true for people who want to use CBD oil as a supplementary treatment for conditions such as epilepsy.
Reputable manufacturers will offer third-party lab testing that details the amounts of compounds, such as CBD, in each bottle. This ensures that a person gets as measured a dose as possible.
An independent lab test also helps ensure that the product is free from other contaminants, such as chemicals, pesticides, or heavy metals.
All CBD products featured on Medical News Today have undergone rigorous third-party testing and meet standards of quality.
Though CBD oil contains mostly CBD, it can contain trace amounts of THC. While this is not enough to produce a psychoactive effect in the brain, it may still show up on a drug test.
Anyone using CBD for treatments who has to undergo drug testing should be aware of this possibility and take the appropriate steps to avoid any consequences.
Dosing is difficult to quantify with CBD oils, so the purity of the oil is vital.
A study in the New England Journal of Medicine notes that children and adults with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome who took 10mg or 20mg of CBD per kilogram of bodyweight per day along with their anti-epileptic treatment had greater reductions in drop seizures.
Adding CBD oil directly under the tongue may be the easiest way to get it into the body. Adding it to a glass of juice may help if the person does not enjoy the flavor.
However, anyone considering CBD to treat seizures and epilepsy should talk to their doctor about dosing, as it is important to find the minimum effective dose.
Recent research into CBD has expanded its potential use for seizures. While CBD use may help some people with treatment-resistant epilepsy, it is not right for everyone.
Speak to a doctor in each case to check for interactions and other possible treatments. People who choose CBD should still work with their doctor to monitor the results and keep track of any possible effects.
As legislation around CBD opens up, new high-quality research can support the early evidence that CBD may help treat seizures.