You are hereCan epilepsy patients use medical marijuana to prevent seizures?
Can epilepsy patients use medical marijuana to prevent seizures?
I wanted to share my experiences with using medical marijuana to help prevent seizures and see how many other epileptics are using medical marijuana this way.
Warning: THIS IS NOT MEDICAL ADVICE! You must consult with your doctor or health care advisor before changing anything related to your health regimen for epilepsy. There is not enough clinical evidence & research about the benefits of medical cannabis for it to be used as a main source of medicine for epilepsy or any other condition, and you need to speak with a licensed health care advisor to make the right decision for your health and your situation. You may be surprised at how many doctors are willing to talk openly about medical cannabis. As with everything for epileptics, if you do make any changes, start slowly and avoid going overboard.
There are not enough studies about cannabis and epilepsy to know the complete effects. Until more studies have been conducted, I believe that cannabis should only be used by epileptics as a last resort, when nothing else has worked. If you do decide to try to prevent seizures with epilepsy, start slow and try to stay at the lowest dose needed to acheive results. Remember that any kind of stress on the body can make seizures worse. Some epileptics have claimed that any kind of medical marijuana will actually makes their epilepsy worse or even directly triggers seizures, so definitely don't just start smoking marijuana like it's a new epilepsy RX from your doctor. That being said, a lot of prescription epilepsy medicines can make seizures worse, too. It's all a matter of finding what works for your body.
Table of Contents
- How I Use Medical Marijuana to Prevent Seizures
- Possible Medical Strains for Epilepsy Patients
- Learn How to Make Edible Cannabis Extract Oil
- My story of medical cannabis & epilepsy
- Feedback we've received from other patients with epilepsy
Visit the Medical Cannabis for Epilepsy Google+ group for news and discussion.
The best treatment for me seems to come from high-CBD, low-THC forms of cannabis, extracts or hash oil (sometimes referred to as Rick Simpson oil or RSO).
Most Effective Ways of Using Medical Cannabis to Prevent Seizures (For Me)
High-CBD cannabis extract oil (hash oil extracted from high-CBD buds)
High-CBD strains using a vaporizer (smoking seems less effective than vaporizing, in my experience, but smoking high-CBD strains is still better than nothing)
Specialized concentrates/edibles from medical marijuana that are high in CBD and low in THC (for example "Cheeba Chews").
AVOID anything high in THC with low levels of CBD. So avoid high-THC strains, and especially avoid concentrates like "wax", "dabs", "shatter" and "BHO" (butane hash oil) which are usually extremely high in THC and low in everything else. Also avoid untested edibles, as these are also usually high in THC.
AVOID CBD products made from hemp. I've noticed these "legal" alternatives to medical cannabis popping up everywhere, but these don't seem effective for preventing seizures, and there's questions about whether these products are safe (or even legal). I only use CBD derived from medical marijuana, not from industrial hemp.
Please note that CBD will help counteract the psyhcoactive effects of THC. In addition to preventing seizures, high-CBD strains do not seem to affect my ability to function, especially when compared to high-THC cannabis.
I am able to perform my professional duties just fine. I do not drive by choice, partly because I worry about being considered "under the infuence," but mostly because I fear having a seizure while driving.
I have learned that when I am ingesting high-CBD doses of cannabis daily, I very rarely (if ever) get auras or need to resort to smoked cannabis in order to prevent a seizure.
I occasionally use vaporized cannabis if I feel a seizure coming on, as vaporized cannabis seems to be the fastest way to get an extra "boost" of cannabis in my system, but a steady supply of high-CBD cannabis hash oil seems much more effective than vaped or smoked high-CBD strains.
For example, sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with an aura, which is a weird feeling I get right before I have a seizure (if it happens when I'm awake). When this happens, I'll vape a bowl of a high-CBD cannabis strain and the aura almost always goes away completely. I usually fall right back asleep for several more hours of restful, seizure-free slumber.
So far, I've never has a tonic-clonic seizure since I started using medical cannabis. *knocks on wood*
I get the best results from strains that test high for CBD, and lower in THC.
I often use trusted high-CBD strains (like Harlequin, Charlotte's Web, etc), which are now found at many medical cannabis dispensaries.
I am fortunate enough to live in a medical state where I have access to medical cannabis dispensaries that sell specialized medical strains and also test their CBD and THC content.
Some of my favorite strains for preventing seizures are...
A strain is usually considered "high-CBD" if it has more than 2% CBD. Many strains have higher levels of CBD, up to 15% CBD or more. As far as growing your own supply of medicine, generally you'll get the most consistent high-CBD results with clones, though high-CBD strains from seed have come a long way over the last few years as the strains are stabilized. Learn more about CBD at ProjectCBD.org
CBD Shark Shock ↗
Charlotte's Web (clone-only)
Sour Tsunami (clone-only)
High-THC strains without significant levels of CBD - Unfortunately, high-THC levels is what you'll get with most popular strains, since growers have been selecting for high-THC, low-CBD over the last several decades. It's only recently that growers have been breeding strains with higher levels of CBD. I recommend epilepsy patients only use strains which have at least 2% CBD levels, and even higher levels of CBD are good. Some strains have 15% CBD or more. Never use strains with over 15% THC! Right around 4-6% THC seems to be the sweet spot for me when it comes to preventing seizures.
Strong concentrates - Especially avoid things like "wax", "dabs", "shatter" and "BHO" (butane hash oil) which are usually extremely high in THC and low in everything else. Also avoid untested edibles, as these are also usually high in THC.
This is all just anecdotal evidence for now, but I would love to hear more experiences, good or bad, from other epileptics. If you have epilepsy and have ever used medical marijuana, please leave your feedback, good or bad.
How to Make Edible Cannabis Hash Oil
Also known as Rick Simpson Oil (RSO), Phoenix Tears, Hemp Oil, or Edible Hash Oil
I never had any seizures as a kid.
It wasn't until I was 28 that I had my first tonic-clonic seizure. A tonic-clonic seizure is sometimes called a "grand mal" seizure; the kind of seizure most people think of, where people go unconscious, jerk around and sometimes clenvh their teeth or bite their mouth uncontrollably.
I normally have tonic-clonic seizures in my sleep or early in the morning.
After I had my first few tonic-clonic seizures I got some extensive testing on my brain by a team of neurologists, including an EEG and an MRI.
This testing showed that I was actually having partial seizures all the time, especially when I was tired or dehydrated. These partial seizures manifested themselves as stuttering, hand tremors, and me becomming unresponsive ("staring off into space" with no memory of the event), usually accompanied by a sudden sense of inexplicable confusion.
The fact that I was having partial seizures all the time explained some weird phenomena I'd noticed. Sometimes people would tell me I'd just paused in the middle of a sentence for several seconds, and I didn't seem to realize or remember these pauses. Sometimes I'd suddenly forget where I was, and feel confused like I just "woke up", having lost memory of the last few minutes, even if I was standing or in the middle of a conversation or task.
These are examples of partial seizures, and I've found that using high-CBD medical marijuana regularly seems to dramatically reduce these partial seizures from occuring.
I have found that high-CBD, low-THC strains of cannabis are most effective for preventing seizures.
Before using medical cannabis, I was using extremely high doses of powerful anti-epileptic prescription drugs to get the seizures to stop. These medicines come with side effects like "fatal rash" and "sudden unexpected death." Yet if the seizures didn't stop, I was going to die anyway, so they medicated me without hesitation.
I heard that "high-CBD" strains of medical cannabis may help prevent seizures from happening. So I talked to my doctor about it.
What my neurologist told me about medical cannabis...
After explaining about my interest in high-CBD medical cannabis, my epilepsy specialist neurologist told me she'd much rather I was using marijuana than drinking alcohol, which is a well-documented trigger for seizures.
She said she completely supported me if I think high-CBD marijuana may actually be preventing seizures, and gave me a doctor's recommendation for medical marijuana.
Marijuana is the only medication that can fully control my seizure disorder and prevent aura / trigger state.
I tend to stay away from high THC and try to keep to high CBD strains.
After 8 years of pharmaceuticals (tegretol, depakote, klonopin, topamax, Zarontin, keppra, Neurontin ect ect ect ) I finally tried cannabis after a recommendation of a nurse / friend, over the last two years cannabis has been the only medication i use.
My background: I'm still in dilemma about this stuff. My first seizure came the day after smoking myself silly at a metal concert, then partying and avoiding sleep. The day itself started with a wake and bake, and I went sporting and drinking afterwards, and after my first beer that night I woke up in the ambulance. I'm on Keppra, recently had another seizure after trying to switch to Lamictal.
My observations about weed-seizure: They seem connected. It might be the weed that started it all, but then again, I do get the feeling smoking responsibly helps against seizures. My last seizure came two days after quitting smoking to study. (I smoked regularly, but in good taste. Much like a gentleman would drink a glass of wine and a scotch every night without getting hammered. I'd wake up feeling well rested and ready to start the day.)
I have no way of knowing which type of strain (or more importantly, what THC/CBD ratio) I'm smoking or buying off my guy. The weed I like to smoke feels like the type where:
Seizures at least don't get worse, and it's much healthier than alcohol. Also, I need way more alcohol to get a buzz going since I'm on Keppra.
I feel comfortable with my thoughts, even though they are often pretty 'out there'. Confidence in things I should be confident about are increased (as someone who took a while to get the hang of some social things, this is great). I feel (even) less jealousy, petty competition, a need to 'prove myself' socially, etc.. while remaining superfriendly.
A sort of constant light, mellow epiphany feeling arises (typical "I GET IT!"/"looking-at-stuff-from-a-whole-new-perspective" stuff but without any panic or negativity). I'm super into Physics and Civil Engineering so combined with weed, I've found it helps me take the time to really break complex things down to the essential stuff. This of course causes lovely Eureka moments. :) (not just illusions of it, but real, usable knowledgecomes out of this.)
I can still engage properly in real-life conversation. Many people would not have expected me to be high, because when I am, I just look like a friendly, light-hearted, deep-thinking guy. (The weed I don't like does the opposite.)
As a hyperactive and quite intelligent mind (not at all bragging, but just so you get the point), I can think slower. This is great for me! I can really sink into the movie I'm watching, the music I'm listening, the conversation I'm having, ... without being bored or doing more on the side in my mind. I can submit. This goes hand in hand with the epiphany-inducing state of mind to increase my eagerness for learning stuff. For example: Since smoking regularly, I've picked up two extra instruments: drums and ukulele. I'm kicking ass in learning them, because now I have the patience to do the less-fun aspect of learning: repetition. As if in meditation, I can really study movements by doing them a few hundred times.
... and so on and so on. If by now anyone knows what type of weed I'm talking about and can identify this type, please TELL OTHER EPILEPTICS.
However, I don't know which weed this is. The weed that started the first seizure felt like the opposite: chaos, superfast unstoppable thoughts in all directions, a need to THINK EVERYTHING...
My solution: Everytime I buy new stuff, I smoke it controlled: completely sober, I'll roll a very light joint of it, and smoke it slowly. I take breaks to observe what effects are going on, and decide if the weed seems like the type I like. If it doesn't, I give the weed to someone else (to be honest, this hasn't happened yet). If it IS the weed I like, I smoke it regularly.
It may be that the "bad" weed was harvested too early or not cured properly. That's the only kind of weed I've smoked which gave me that racing, chaotic kind of high.
Definitely make sure you're avoiding any kind of alcohol as it may directly trigger seizures (so can being dehydrated and hungover).
Steve's Personal Testimony on Treatment of Epilepsy with Medical Marijuana
Steve uses 2 form of cannabis oil orally to stop his seizures:
1.) Cannabis oil made from a strain that is high in CBD
2.) Cannabis oil made from a strain that is High in THC - similar to (RSO) Rick Simpson Oil
Question: Which strains are best for siezures my son? He seems to be sensitive to smoking. I'm not sure but cannabis actually seems to trigger siezure activity as opposed to stop it. The cannabis used is all grown in soil organically. Are there specific strains which increase the seizure threshold? The 2 occations he had grand-mal seizure was after smoking dabs.
We are not medical professionals and nothing that we say can be used as medical advice. I recommend talking with your son's neurologist before making any changes to your son's medical regimen (and many neurologists are starting to educate themselves about medical cannabis), but I will share what I've learned so far from my own epilepsy.
First off, it's important to understand that different strains have different cannabinoids. Two of the most studied cannabinoids are THC and CBD.
For many people with epilepsy, high levels of THC can be a big trigger for seizures. Dabs are almost always extremely high in THC and low in everything else, and should be avoided at all costs by those with epilepsy, especially if they've triggered a grand-mal in the past. It's also important to avoid high-THC, low CBD strains (which unfortunately make up the majority of strains these days).
What seems to work best for those with seizures is high-CBD strains with a moderate to low amount of THC. There are also concentrates/edibles available (for example Cheeba Chews) with are high in CBD and low in THC. These strains/concentrates/edibles don't get you "high" but they can help reduce seizures for some people. In my experience and from epilepsy patients I've spoken with, the best results come from medical cannabis strains that are high in CBD. You may see some people advertising high-CBD concentrates made from industrial hemp, but these don't seem to work for reducing seizures (plus they're expensive in addition to not being effective).
If you live in a medical state, you may be able to get your hands on high-CBD, low-THC medical cannabis clones. If not, you may have to take your chances getting seeds online. High-CBD strains are relatively new, and haven't been as stabilized as other strains that you get from seed. That's why getting a clone is best, especially if the grower has actually tested the buds and can confirm the CBD levels. But there are good options with seeds, and high-CBD strains are getting more stabilized each year. Many dispensaries also carry high-CBD strains these days, and those are great because they've actually been tested for THC and CBD levels so you know exactly what you're getting.
A great breeder for high-CBD strains is "CBD Crew."
I hope that helps, and good luck with your son!
Visit the Medical Cannabis for Epilepsy Google+ group for more news and discussion.
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