Cracking the Cannabis Epilepsy Code

Epilepsy is a central nervous system and neurological disorder characterized by seizures, convulsions, and involuntary movements.1 The use of cannabis for epilepsy is nothing new. In fact, the first documented use of the hemp plant for this purpose was in 1,800 B.C.E in Ancient Sumer (modern day Southern Iraq). In these times neurologists would use Indian hemp to successfully control seizures amongst their patients.2

Seizures are initiated by brain cells that get overexcited and fire in an abnormal fashion.

One of the most interesting findings on cannabis and its therapeutic properties is how it activates retrograde signaling in the brain. Retrograde simply means moving backward. This reverse signaling process, unique to cannabinoids controls the output of neurons that fire and quiets down the over-excited neurons that cause convulsions and seizures.

Key Point: When a neuron is overstimulated, such as with epilepsy, having the ability to send a signal backwards to the signaling neuron is important to control and calm down the neurons. This is achieved through the use of cannabinoids as neurotransmitters.

As we now know CB1 receptors reside primarily on the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.3 Research shows that during a seizure, our endocannabinoid system becomes activated, especially the CB1 receptor proteins.45

The cannabis plant offers over 100 phytocannabinoids and an array of terpenoids that actually create what is known as the “entourage effect” (coined by S. Ben- Shabat in 1998) and can help supply the receptors with these crucial compounds.

The dosage of cannabis oil for epilepsy is patient specific. The mayo clinic suggests the following dosage for epilepsy (2014): “To treat epilepsy, 200-300 milligrams of CBD has been taken by mouth daily for up to 4.5 months.”

Dr. Geddy owner and founder of Gedde Whole Health, shares, “Some children are so sensitized to medications that they need to start at a very low dose, and give it plenty of time to work.”

Other clinical trials report that cannabinoids created an internal domino effect in the cell network, producing adaptive like capabilities to handle the seizures more effectively.

Some of the main benefits of cannabinoids for epilepsy include:

  • Mood Regulation
  • Enhancement of cognitive function
  • Anti-oxidant effects to protect the brain
  • Anti-inflammatory agent
  • Energy balance
  • Reduce pro-inflammatory cytokines

Through retrograde signaling, the endogenous cannabinoid system provides on demand protection against seizures and the cannabinoids from cannabis oil help to modulate the communication between each pathway.

There is no doubt epilepsy is influenced by the endocannabinoid system and the entourage effects of cannabis oil shows to be a promising remedy for this type of disease.

I would like to add that the US Government holds patents on Cannabis as a neuroprotectant. Perhaps consider this information when making an educated decision on the use of cannabis oil for neurological disorders. Up until now, a lot of funding has gone to finding ways to demonize the plant and so it is up to us to uncover the research on our own, honoring the antiquity and historical use of cannabis among medical doctors.

Definition of EPILEPSY. Merriam-Webster. Accessed November 27, 2016.
Cannabinoids in the Treatment of Epilepsy. The New England Journal of Medicine. Published September 10, 2015. Accessed November 27, 2016.
Robertson S. Cannabinoid Receptors. Published June 2, 2010. Accessed November 27, 2016.
Cannabinoids: Defending the Epileptic Brain. PubMed Central (PMC). Published May 4, 2004. Accessed November 27, 2016.
Cannabinoids and Epilepsy. Neurotherapeutics. Published 2015. Accessed November 27, 2016.
8 replies
  1. James Peters
    James Peters says:

    ”I would like to add that the US Government holds patents on Cannabis as a neuroprotectant.” Patents are irrelevant. Unless you are a patent solicitor trying to protect all potential medications without knowing if it really works or not.

    As for the patent in question then back in 2011, the company Kannalife Sciences Inc was granted an exclusive license by the US National Institutes of Health – Office of Technology Transfer (NIH-OTT) for the commercialization of patent US6630507, ”Cannabinoids as Antioxidants and Neuroprotectants” The patent makes very specific claims about structural analogs of CBD.

    The company now has a drug candidate, KLS-13019 and trials will be in patients with hepatic encephalopathy and chronic traumatic encephalopathy

    • DJ Nicke
      DJ Nicke says:

      The patent is not irrelevant when the official and legal stand of the US Government is that cannabis “has no accepted medical treatment use in the U.S.”

      So holding a patent on cannabinoids as Antioxidants and Neuroprotectants while simultaneously claiming they have “no medical use” is contradictory. So it is not irrelevant in my mind, nor in the mind of the author, Ms. Schmitt.

      • James Peters
        James Peters says:

        Clinical trials are used for a reason to see if anything actually works. The US NIH make the claims in the patent based on preclinical studies which aren’t a lot to go on. They think it could have the potential to help patients with certain conditions. Now the real test comes with what the clinical trials show.

        So nothing has any medical benefit until proven otherwise. Based on good trial data then the FDA have approved a number of synthesised cannabinoid based drugs like Marinol, Syndros and Nabilone. Once approval happens then the DEA reschedules them.

        As for the official and legal stance of the US Government then I would imagine this is more to do with politics from a bygone era (mainly Anslinger’s) that’s still being perpetuated by elements with the DEA and other agencies. We all know they decided not to reschedule it and according to federal drug codes, cannabis is still as dangerous as heroin. But as long as the DEA both write and enforce the law, they are going to keep things the same, no matter what the public in the U.S. actually want. I can’t see the DEA changing it’s views as they get a huge annual budget and employ many thousands of agents. Without them fighting the War on Drugs they’d be out of a job. So the U.S public should make them obsolete by voting in state ballots. On a personal note then I think all drugs should be decriminalized and some legalized based on the evidence we have Doing so is likely going to help public health as well as the national economy

        • DJ Nicke
          DJ Nicke says:

          You stated:
          “Clinical trials are used for a reason to see if anything actually works.”

          Actually, clinical trials are to see if a treatment is safe and effective for humans before being released commercially.
          They are long, expensive, and difficult to carry out properly. NOBODY undertakes clinical trials unless there is money to be made from the results. You can only make money if you can patent the treatment being tested – otherwise, you are doing research for your competitors.

          Patents are also difficult and expensive to obtain, and you must PROVE that you have something unique and feasible. NOBODY would file a patent unless they have good reason to believe there is money to be made from whatever they are patenting.
          For the US Government to file a patent on cannabinoids for use as Antioxidants and Neuroprotectants – they would be required to have done at least preliminary research, and filing the patent would indicate that research returned positive results.

          You also stated:
          “So nothing has any medical benefit until proven otherwise.”

          By this logic, gravity did not exist until an official body proved that it existed.

          Cannabis DOES have a multitude of medical benefits even though these benefits may not have been proven in the ways acceptable to the medical community.

          If you choose not to believe in the medical benefits of cannabis until they are proven in human clinical trials – that is your choice. However your belief or disbelief does not change the fact that cannabis HAS worked for many, many people – and it has been used as a medicine by humans since the beginning of recorded history:
          History of Marijuana as Medicine – 2900 BC to Present

  2. James Peters
    James Peters says:

    GW Pharma have proven their drug epidiolex (a proprietary oral solution of pure plant-derived cannabidiol) works in patients with Dravet Syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome and hope it will be approved by the FDA, EMA, MHRA and others sometime this year. Trials using it are ongoing for tuberous sclerosis complex, infantile spasms, hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy and schizophrenia. They are testing pure CBDV for focal seizures and autism spectrum disorders as well.


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *