Is Marijuana a Reliable Therapy for Seizures?


Is Marijuana a Reliable Therapy for Seizures?
Recent findings by Stanford University School of Medicine investigators have uncovered that during epileptic seizures, a marijuana-like brain substance, known as 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), is rapidly synthesized and released. This substance, which is similar to marijuana’s most psychoactive component, seems to have a beneficial effect in calming seizures. However, this observation may be tempered by potential increases in seizure frequency after the initial calming effect.

Further examination into non-intoxicating cannabis compounds, such as cannabidiol (CBD), which can be derived from marijuana or hemp plants, indicates widespread availability in various forms. Sold as oils, lotions, and other products, CBD is purported to address a range of issues from stress to inflammation and even seizures, as suggested by the Johnson & Wales University.

Despite varying laws across the United States, with 37 states having passed medical cannabis laws as of June 2022, there remains skepticism regarding its efficacy. These laws often respond to evidence of cannabis’s benefits for conditions such as childhood seizure disorders and other medical challenges.

Studies, such as those from the Rockefeller Institute of Medical Research, point to CBD’s potential to reduce inflammation and neuropathic pain. Yet, these findings are often preliminary, and further research is necessary to fully understand the long-term effects and potential for dependency, particularly highlighted in studies addressing substance addiction.

Harvard Medical School experts emphasize that while cannabis may have some benefits for certain conditions, the risks, particularly for those over 55, should not be overlooked. Concerns about the short-term impact on cognitive functions, such as working memory and executive function, have been noted by Harvard Health.

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Regarding pediatric epilepsy, small-scale studies suggest that medical marijuana may offer benefits when other treatments fail. However, these studies often rely on parental reporting, which necessitates a cautious interpretation of the results.

While the enthusiasm for cannabis, particularly medical marijuana, continues to grow, experts urge caution and further research to determine its safety and efficacy. The understanding of how marijuana may end seizures could pave the way for new drug developments, but at present, the scientific community remains divided on its full potential as a seizure therapy.

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