Is Marijuana a Viable Option for Treating Seizures and Other Health Issues?


A substance in the brain that resembles marijuana, known as 2-arachidonoylglycerol or 2-AG, has been discovered to play a role in calming epileptic seizures. Researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine have found that this substance is rapidly synthesized and released during epileptic seizures. However, it is crucial to note that while it brings a beneficial effect in controlling seizures, it also has its downsides.

Cannabidiol (CBD), a non-intoxicating compound found in cannabis, has been shown to offer several potential health benefits. According to research conducted by the Rockefeller Institute of Medical Research, CBD has been proven to help reduce inflammation and the neuropathic pain it can cause. Moreover, a 2018 study suggested that CBD could aid individuals struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, highlighting its potential in preventing relapse.

Available in various forms such as pills, oils, lotions, and candies, CBD products can be found online, in stores, and in cannabis dispensaries. People use these products for a myriad of reasons including to alleviate stress, depression, joint pain, inflammation, and seizures. Cannabis, containing different amounts of CBD, is also noted for its potential in reducing anxiety.

However, there is a need for caution as marijuana use can have short-term negative impacts on cognitive functions. This includes challenges with thinking, working memory, executive function, and psychomotor abilities. In the context of pediatric epilepsy, parents have sought relief in marijuana for their children. Although unconventional, this method has helped manage seizures in cases where FDA-approved treatments have failed. As much as 30 percent of people with epilepsy, equating to about one million Americans, continue to experience seizures despite being on medication.

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Medical marijuana is reported to provide relief for various conditions, including chronic pain and wasting syndrome associated with HIV, as well as irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease. However, its use, especially in adolescents, raises concerns. Marijuana use in adolescence has been associated with brain damage, and while it may provide short-term relief from anxiety, it could potentially exacerbate anxiety and executive functioning issues over time.

The medical community remains divided on the use of medical marijuana. Some experts, including those from the University of Rochester Medical Center, urge caution and stress the need for more research to distinguish fact from fiction in the use of cannabis for cancer treatment and pain management. There is a consensus among Harvard Medical School experts that while cannabis has benefits for certain conditions, it poses risks, particularly for individuals over the age of 55.

Understanding how marijuana works to end seizures could pave the way for the development of more effective treatments for epileptic seizures. There is an undeniable need for further research to unravel the complexities of marijuana and its effects on the brain and overall health.

Stanford University School of Medicine Research on Marijuana-Like Brain Substance

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