Seizures occur when there’s a dramatic fluctuation of electrical activity in the brain. Over the years, a number of high profile cases have raised awareness of CBD’s anti-seizure properties, but it’s only recently that science has been able to confirm this link. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial published in The New England Journal of Medicine explored the effect of CBD medication on young adults with Dravet syndrome, a rare type of epilepsy with seizures that are often induced by fever. Those who received CBD experienced saw their seizure frequency drop by a median of 38.9 percent.
The first step to finding your correct CBD dosage is getting as much information as you can about the product you’re using. What is the concentration of CBD? Are there third-party lab tests that can confirm that? The CBD industry is still mainly a grassroots therapeutic movement, and as such, largely unregulated. Concentration and purity levels can differ greatly depending on the manufacturing process.
All of this makes CBD remarkably difficult for even the most dedicated health care providers to manage safely. Dr. Kelly Knupp, an associate professor of pediatrics and neurology at the University of Colorado, and the director of the Dravet Syndrome program at Children’s Hospital Colorado, said families of epileptic children have tried to bring CBD oils to the hospital for testing. “They’re just concerned that they don’t know exactly who’s growing [the hemp],” Knupp said. “They know it’s not being regulated.” But because CBD is a Schedule I controlled substance, high-tech, regulated laboratories, like those at the University of Colorado, can’t accept, store, or test CBD oils, lest they risk prosecution. “There is no such lab that can take that product,” Knupp said, which leaves any testing up to the unregulated testing centers that cater to the cannabis industry.
CBD is shorthand for cannabidiol, one of the more than 100 cannabinoids found in cannabis. CBD products are said to deliver their many claimed benefits by boosting the body’s endocannabinoid system, which is a system that “is a unique signaling pathway that controls the function of a variety of systems throughout the body, including the cardiovascular system,” says Nicholas DiPatrizio, Ph.D., a professor of biomedical sciences at the University of California, Riverside School of Medicine. (More on the endocannabinoid system later.)
A CNN program that featured Charlotte's Web cannabis in 2013 brought increased attention to the use of CBD in the treatment of seizure disorders. Since then, 16 states have passed laws to allow the use of CBD products (not exceeding a specified concentration of THC) for the treatment of certain medical conditions. This is in addition to the 30 states that have passed comprehensive medical cannabis laws, which allow for the use of cannabis products with no restrictions on THC content. Of these 30 states, eight have legalized the use and sale of cannabis products without requirement for a doctor's recommendation.
The ratio of THC to CBD in a product is also important. Lee said products made with CBD oil extracted from resin-rich marijuana plants rather than industrial hemp, which may have no THC at all, are more therapeutic because the two ingredients work synergistically. These oils are also purer, since fewer plants are used and less refining is necessary. However, these products are available only in states with legal weed.
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