One of the most common conditions affecting the brain is epilepsy. A new phase of treatment has hit the labs and doctors offices everywhere, and it’s all about medical marijuana. The American Epilepsy Foundation even confirmed that cannabidiol (CBD) has helped treat patients with seizures in an observational study. If you’re thinking about using hemp oil as a way to manage your seizures, it’s best to get educated before making any decisions that concern your health.
What Happens During A Seizure
Every seizure is different from person to person. Some can feel the seizure coming hours or days in advance, while others will have no warning and the seizure erupts suddenly. These warning signs are called auras. They are not considered part of the actual seizure, but they are considered a part of the seizure process. Auras are good indications that a storm is coming and you need to seek emergency care or reach for your treatment.
Warning Signs Before A Seizure
Changes In Senses:
Emotional or Thought Changes:
- Feeling fear or panic
- Unexplained good feeling
- “Strange” feeling
- Racing thoughts
- Déjà vu (Feeling like you experienced something before but you haven’t)
- Jamais vu ( Feeling like something unfamiliar is familiar)
Changes In The Body:
- Head Aches
- Feeling like the stomach is rising
- Numbness or tingling in parts of the body
The middle of the seizure is called the ictal phase. This is the time between when the first symptom occurs, like an aura, to the end of the seizure activity. It represents the time of the electrical seizure activity.
Symptoms During A Seizure
Senses and Thought Changes
- Loss of awareness, or blacking out
- Problems with memory
- Loss of consciousness, or passing out
- Sounds may be strange or nonexistent
- Unusual smells and tastes
- Blurry or loss of vision
- Visual hallucinations
- Tingling or numbness in the body or feeling like you’ve been electrically shocked
- Feeling detached
- Out of body sensation
- Body parts feel or look different
- Pleasant feelings
- Feelings of panic
- Déjà vu
- Jamais vu
- Difficulty speaking
- Unable to swallow
- Unable to move eyes, repeatedly blinking
- Loss of movement and muscle control
- Losing control over urine and stool
- Change in skin tone
- Dilatated Pupils
- Biting of the tongue
- Heart racing
- Difficulty breathing
Some people who suffer from a seizure can recover instantly, others can take up to hours to feeling back to normal. Depending on the severity and what part of the brain was impacted dictates the recovery time.
Symptoms After A Seizure
Senses and Thought Changes
- Slow to respond or not able to respond right away
- Memory loss
- Difficulty talking or writing
- Dizziness, lightheadedness
- Feeling upset or sad
- Frustrated, embarrassed, ashamed
- If they fell during the seizure, could develop small wounds like cuts and bruises
- May feel tired, exhausted, or sleep for minutes or hours
- Pain in the body or head
- Nausea or upset stomach
- Weakness in the whole body or just one side
- Needing to go to the bathroom or losing control of their bladder
What Is Happening In The Brain?
The way our brain communicates is through electricity. Neurons hold charges that send signaling and messages to other neurons, making a beautiful coexisting community that runs the wonderful you. But when the signals are abnormal, it can create a chain reaction like triggered explosives.
If the abnormal message stops at one neuron, that’s okay. This low amount of overcharged activity does not cause a seizure. A perfect storm must occur where all neurons are excited, they are closely connected to other neurons, and the message has to be big enough for the other neurons to react and act the same way. This message can stay contained and affect one part of the brain, or it could spread and affect the entire brain.
What Causes A Neuron To Create Abnormal Messages?
- The neuron is damaged
- Too many or not enough neurotransmitters
- Slow ion channels that take longer to turn off messages
- Receptors are not functioning correctly, making it difficult for the neuron to know when to stop sending signals
How CBD Helps With Epilepsy
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a chemical compound that is extracted from either a cannabis sativa or industrial hemp plant. It is the primary component in cannabis holding a wide range of healing properties. Unlike THC, hemp oil has no psychoactive effects. This is in part because of the way it interacts with our brains.
The Endocannabinoid System
CBD interacts with a system called the Endocannabinoid System. This system maintains the body’s homeostasis. It regulates the appetite, blood flow, cell growth and a lot in between. It is made up of three major parts:
- CB1 and CB2 Receptors: CB1 receptors are located mainly in the center and peripheral nervous system. CB2 receptors are mostly found all throughout the body, regulating the immune system.
- Endocannabinoids: These chemicals are made organically from the brain and mimic cannabinoids found in cannabis. Using retrograde signaling, they travel backward and help traffic flow in between neurons in the synapse.
- Metabolic Enzymes: These enzymes are the cleanup crew. They remove any dead or unwanted cells and help promote cell growth and regeneration.
THC has psychoactive effects because it directly binds to CB1 receptors. Since CBD uses indirect methods of communication, it nullifies any psychoactive properties the chemical could have. CBD indirectly stimulates the two receptors by activating pathways and other receptors in the brain. This activity also encourages neurotransmitters and other chemicals to be active when they are needed or suppressed when they are over excited.
CBD Helps With Epilepsy By Regulating
The way researchers stumbled upon the endocannabinoid system is by discovering the first endocannabinoid, anandamide. This chemical is almost identical to THC, which is a reason THC can bind so perfectly with the CB1 receptor. This compound gives natural feelings of euphoria, reduces pain, regulates appetite, and can even help promote cell growth.
During seizures, they found that the brain produces more anandamide. This is thought to be a defense mechanism created by the brain for malfunctions much like adrenaline rushes or feelings of pain are for survival. CBD increases the levels of anandamide produced which in turn helps regulate the brain’s communication system and makes the existing anandamide more efficient. CBD can help calm down the neurons, and stop the over-excitement from spreading which causes the full-blown seizure.
CBD Can Help Heal Brain Injuries
Epilepsy can damage the brain which is no surprise because it is an electrical nightmare beneath the skull. By overloading and shutting off parts of the brain multiple times, this can eventually take its toll. Many people experience epilepsy after receiving a traumatic brain injury and are also turning to CBD to treat their symptoms. There is evidence that CBD has regenerative properties in our brain’s cells.
In high-stress situations in the brain such as seizures, CBD enhances brain’s chemicals that promote cell growth and regeneration. By promoting regulation through the body, CBD can react appropriately to what the brain needs. The brain recognizes malfunctions, and during seizures, it activates the endocannabinoids. By increasing the production of chemicals like anandamide, hemp oil makes it more useful in helping the cells recover and mediates the electrical currents flowing between cells.
CBD Can Protect Your Brain
The way these endocannabinoids travel is called retrograde signaling, which means they travel backward. While signals are being sent from other neurons, the endocannabinoids act as a buffer to make sure that the receiving neuron isn’t over activated.
When a neuron has a message to send, they emit an electrical pulse that causes chemicals to swim through the space between neurons called the synapse. The receptors hang off the receiving neuron, waving around in the synapse trying to catch on to any information. Endocannabinoids leave the receiving neuron and tells the sending neuron what is needed. If the sending neuron is pushing out too much, CBD can help the receiving neuron to send the message to calm down.
This protection very well could be a reason CBD helps with seizures. Hemp oil could be preventing the overactive neurons from spreading their plague through presynaptic calcium channels. By cutting off their source of communication, you get the disorder at its source.
CBD Can Help Your Furry Friends
All mammals have an endocannabinoid system. This means our pets at home can also benefit from medical cannabis. If you have a pet that is experiencing convulsions and seizures, giving them CBD treats or tinctures can help calm and eliminate their episodes.
Like any medication, CBD comes with side effects. Though side effects with this medicinal herb are rare, it is always suggested to speak with a doctor before making any changes to your medication. Now that you are educated on how medical marijuana can help you with your seizures, you can be confident in the discussion about your health. If you have already spoken with a doctor and you are ready to take your next step, check out our shop for tinctures and edibles that are perfect for people struggling with seizures.