Approximately 50 million people worldwide live with epilepsy, a neurological condition that involves recurring seizures. This makes it one of the most common neurological diseases globally. This condition prevents or makes daily tasks difficult such as caring for children, preparing food, driving, or maintaining a job and career. In severe cases, the patient’s quality of life can become so low that he or she experiences clinical depression or anxiety in anticipation of the next seizure.
Epileptic seizures are caused by irregular electrical discharges, or misfiring, among brain cells. The misfiring results in convulsions of the body, loss of consciousness, and sometimes severely altered senses. Epilepsy itself may be caused by head injuries, hormonal imbalance, or viruses. But it is often stated that the cause of epilepsy is simply unknown.
Cannabidiol (CBD), a compound derived from the cannabis plant that does not produce a "high" and has been an increasing focus of medical research, was shown in a new large-scale, randomized, controlled trial to significantly reduce the number of dangerous seizures in patients with a severe form of epilepsy called Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Effect of Cannabidiol on Drop Seizures in the Lennox–Gastaut Syndrome. New England Journal of Medicine, 2018. This new study adds rigorous evidence of cannabidiol's effectiveness in reducing seizure burden in a severe form of epilepsy and, importantly, is the first study of its kind to offer more information on proper dosing.
Cannabis treatment for seizures is gaining support from a growing roster of medical practitioners who are urging its legal access, including the Epilepsy Foundation in the United States.