Current pharmacological treatments are not effective in almost 30% of cases and their side effects can also be very pronounced. They are called refractory epilepsies and occur mainly in young children. Cannabidiol is thus positioned as one of the best therapeutic alternatives to treat this dangerous disease.

CBD is increasingly consumed and valued for its therapeutic potential to alleviate the symptoms of a large number of ailments. One of these ailments is Epilepsy, a serious chronic disease that causes severe seizures.

Next, we are going to analyze the current state of research regarding the therapeutic potential of CBD, a natural and non-psychoactive component of the Cannabis sativa plant .

What is epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a chronic neuronal disorder characterized by an uncontrolled increase in electrical activity in specific groups of neurons. This unusual hyperexcitability causes so-called seizures or epileptic seizures, which are brief and specific episodes of involuntary movements that can affect specific areas or even the entire body.

It is a disease known since ancient times and can affect people of any age. The data show an incidence of 1.5% of the world population, of which almost a third suffer from the so-called refractory epilepsy and do not respond to traditional pharmacological treatments or other therapies such as ketone diets, vaginal stimulation or surgery.

The most common type is called Idiopathic Epilepsy, which has no known cause and affects more than half of the patients. Symptomatic epilepsy, however, can be caused by prenatal brain damage, congenital malformations, severe trauma, stroke, brain tumors, or even infections such as Meningitis.

This dangerous disease can be very disabling as it causes many associated physical problems and has a high percentage of premature deaths. Epilepsy usually appears in the first years of life and it is in these patients where traditional pharmacological treatments are less effective.

Childhood refractory epilepsy and CBD

The most difficult cases to treat are those in which antiepileptic drugs are not effective or their side effects are too severe. This type of refractory epilepsy occurs mainly in children, so the impact of the disease affects parents and family members particularly hard. It is precisely in this type of epilepsy where a compound such as CBD, which lacks adverse effects, shows its therapeutic potential.

Some of the main childhood refractory epilepsy syndromes are:

Lennox-Gastaut syndrome

It usually occurs before the age of 4 and presents with short-lived tonic seizures in the neck, face, and extremities. This syndrome is resistant to anti-epileptic drugs and causes very strong and disabling side effects.

Dravet syndrome

It is a type of childhood epilepsy of genetic origin and the symptoms usually appear during the first year. It presents with generalized clonic seizures and patients may suffer from intellectual disability. There is no totally effective medication for this ailment.

West syndrome

It occurs in children between 3 and 12 months. It can be due to malformations, dysplasias, infections or even have a genetic component. It occurs with sudden and symmetrical seizures in the extremities. Currently treated with a dangerous cocktail of antiepileptic drugs, benzodiazepines and corticosteroids.

Dosse syndrome

This type of epilepsy occurs before the age of 5 and is usually resistant to antiepileptic drugs. Almost half of the patients have intellectual retardation or disability.

There are other types of unclassified epilepsies that are also resistant to antiepileptic drugs.

Traditional anticonvulsant drugs in this type of refractory epilepsy are ineffective and cause side effects that are too strong and in many cases dangerous for the patient. Some of these adverse effects are confusion, dizziness, headaches, depression, lethargy, hair loss, and skin reactions.

CBD has been shown to be effective as an anticonvulsant and neuroprotective in clinical studies. Cannabidiol thus becomes an effective and safe alternative in many of these cases, especially when it comes to young children. Clinical studies conducted to date show a reduction in the frequency and intensity of seizures. Likewise, it is being studied whether the neuroprotective effect of CBD can improve the cognitive, emotional and psychomotor capacities diminished by the disease.

Efficient dosing in the different types of Epilepsy is currently being investigated. Studies on CBD and Epilepsy are beginning to bear fruit and it is hoped that in the coming years the mechanism of action of CBD will be better understood.

How does CBD work against Epilepsy?

Despite the fact that preclinical and clinical studies and trials have been increasing in recent years, the exact metabolic mechanism by which CBD is capable of reducing the frequency and intensity in more than half of the cases is still not fully understood. of refractory epilepsy.

We know that CBD or Cannabidiol is capable of modulating neuronal hyperexcitability in epileptic patients. We also know that during epileptic seizures, brain damage occurs with a high associated neuronal mortality. These damages are produced mainly by inflammation and oxidative stress that occurs during seizures. Research indicates that CBD has anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties, which reduces these damages considerably.

CBD achieves a modulating and protective effect that not only reduces seizures, but also considerably improves the patient’s mood and cognitive state. This is especially important in the case of children, since maintaining cognitive abilities allows the patient and their families a better quality of life.

It should be noted that a large number of patients respond better to treatment when CBD is accompanied by other cannabinoids and terpenes. The administration of CBD together with small doses of THC increases the effectiveness of the treatment in some cases due to the so-called Entourage or entourage effect.

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