Many people mistakenly think that using cannabis to treat symptoms of epilepsy is new, but this alternative treatment spans back 4,000 years according to some scholars! The first reference is attributed to the Assyrians, who called cannabis “hand of ghost”. Arabic and Indian populations also recognized the potential benefits of cannabis and continued its use for seizure activity treatment for many years. As global trade grew, cannabis became known as “Indian Hemp” in Europe and North America and was experimented with for its anticonvulsant properties. However, due to smear campaigns, xenophobia, and standardization problems, cannabis never reached its full potential as an epilepsy treatment.
Fast forward to the 1970s, and renewed interest in cannabis as an anticonvulsant treatment spurred several research studies with promising findings. Cannabidiol (CBD) and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9– THC) exhibited the safest and most effective results. Unfortunately once again, fear-mongering and government prohibition stifled research attempts, and researchers found themselves unable to accurately determine cannabis’ effectiveness without more government support.
Over the past decade, interest in using cannabis as an anticonvulsant treatment has picked up again. This time, families of epilepsy patients are leading the charge, demanding that the benefits of CBD and Δ9– THC be examined more thoroughly by the medical industry. Their efforts have now created momentum for medical cannabis legalization in the United States, with prominent politicians now voicing support of exploring cannabis’ potential as a legitimate medical treatment for all kinds of conditions, epilepsy included.
It should be no surprise that after millennia of evidence to support cannabis’ effectiveness for epilepsy treatment, researchers finally developed the United States’ first cannabis-based medication, Epidiolex. Epidiolex is the brand name for a purified CBD oral solution, approved in epileptic patients ages two and older diagnosed with:
- Lennox-Gastaut syndrome
- Dravet syndrome
- Tuberous sclerosis complex
Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndromes are rare and severe forms of epilepsy. Tuberous sclerosis complex is a genetic disorder that causes benign tumors to grow on the brain and vital organs, often causing seizure activity. Epidiolex has demonstrated consistent and impressive results with the crippling seizures caused by these conditions. It’s also important to note that Epidiolex is the first ever FDA-approved treatment for Dravet syndrome.
Research into cannabis’ effects on other forms of epilepsy is being conducted every day across the globe. Social attitudes continue to become more favorable for the legalization of medical and recreational cannabis, opening up an entire world of possibilities for epileptics who have not responded well to current treatments. Some states, such as Florida, have even approved patients diagnosed with epilepsy disorders to receive prescriptions for smokable or edible cannabis products.
If you live in Ft. Myers or surrounding areas and have a qualifying diagnosis, including epilepsy, our team of physicians can help you acquire your own Florida Medical Marijuana Use Registry (MMUR) Identification Card. This card allows you to visit a licensed medical marijuana treatment center with a doctor’s order, where you can purchase state-approved medical marijuana and CBD products. Call us at (239) 789-6561 to start your evaluation process and get one step closer to the relief from seizures you deserve.