- December 28, 2022
Generally, patients with epilepsy can live an active life devoid of seizure episodes. However, some 20% to 30%of epileptics with uncontrolled seizures are at risk of various seizure-related problems. They may feel wiped out, depressed, or apprehensive throughout their lives. Epilepsy often comes with a social stigma and stereotypical behaviors. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), epilepsy affects approximately 50 million individuals globally. (https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/epilepsy#:~:text=Around%2050%20million%20people%20worldwide%20have%20epilepsy%2C%20making%20it%20one,if%20properly%20diagnosed%20and%20treated)
Epilepsy is a multifactorial disease of the brain in which repeated and unprovoked bursting of electrical activity takes place, causing seizures. Patients may experience a seizure involving their whole body, part of their body, or may notice a transient pause in their thinking. (http://perspectivesinmedicine.cshlp.org/content/5/6/a022426.full.pdf)
With adequate anti-epileptic drugs, most people can have a seizure free life. However, some people continue experiencing seizures throughout their life despite taking medicines. Interest in the use of marijuana for the management of epilepsy has rapidly increased in recent years. (https://www.j-epilepsy.org/journal/view.php?doi=10.14581/jer.17012)
According to a 2018 research study, the FDA has approved marijuana to be used in the management of severe varieties of epilepsy. (https://www.dovepress.com/cannabinoids-in-the-treatment-of-epilepsy-current-status-and-future-pr-peer-reviewed-fulltext-article-NDT)
One particular survey was conducted on patients with epilepsy to assess the effectiveness of marijuana. It was noted that 82% of the respondents found it effective in controlling their seizures and improving their epilepsy. However, this is only one study and marijuana is still not a mainstream medicine in the treatment of epilepsy. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7608609/#:~:text=Although%20only%2053.8%25%20of%20patients,the%20purpose%20of%20treating%20epilepsy.)
Not all patients benefit from medical marijuana for epilepsy. I strongly advise all epileptic patients discuss this treatment option with their neurologist before and during treatment with marijuana. It has yet to be proven as effective as current prescribed medications.