Epilepsy is a condition in which the patient gets recurrent seizures. These convulsions develop when nerve cells in the brain send out messages that result in involuntary body movements or sensations or changes in attention and behavior.
Normal human brain cells produce chemicals called endocannabinoids when they become overactive to prevent seizures. In epilepsy this process is interrupted and seizures develop. Marijuana is able to treat epilepsy because it contains chemicals called cannabinoids which behave just like the brain’s own endocannabinoids and prevents seizures.
In light of these findings, some states like Colorado have legalized the use of marijuana for the treatment of epilepsy in both adults and children.
One child who has benefitted from this legalization is Zaki Jackson.
From the age of 6 months, when he was diagnosed, to the age of 10 years, Zaki had tried 17 different prescription medications for epilepsy but none of them had controlled his convulsions effectively.
His epilepsy was so severe that at one time he was having around 250 seizures in a day. His doctor therefore recommended medical marijuana and the frequency of his seizures reduced dramatically. In fact, Zack has not had one in 9 months. His quality of life has also improved since he can now ride a swing when previously he could not.
Zack’s mother, who describes herself as a conservative Christian, was initially hesitant to use cannabis to treat her child because of the social stigma associated with it. She acquiesced due to the suffering Zack endured from his many convulsions and in retrospect, she is glad that she did.
I probably stared at him for a good three hours after his first dose and then I fell asleep. I didn’t feel any seizures after his first dose”
Parents of children with severe, intractable convulsions can therefore also relieve their children’s suffering by using medical marijuana. They do not have to watch them suffer from numerous violent convulsions each day or live through the heartbreak that ensues when their children are given prescription medications to stop their convulsions and they stop breathing.
Those concerned with intoxication can use special strains of cannabis like little Zack does. These strains are bred to have high concentrations of cannabidiol (CBD) and very low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
THC is the psychoactive compound in marijuana which makes people “stoned”. It also manages convulsions, pain and nausea. CBD also manages these symptoms but is non psychoactive. Using these low-TCH and high-CBD medical marijuana strains reduces the chance of patients getting “high” on their medication.
In fact, the low-THC and high-CBD strains used to treat severe epilepsy in children have virtually no side effects. This high CBD marijuana strains can be found at your local medical marijuana dispensary or if in case you don’t live in a state where medical marijuana is not legal, you can learn how to grow marijuana from the privacy of your own home. There are several websites online that teach you how to grow your own medicine. One of the most popular is marijuanauniversity.com, which makes extremely easy and affordable to learn.
Furthermore, the stigma associated with smoking cannabis can be eradicated by taking the medical treatment as a syrup from purified cannabis like Zaki does,or as in candy, brownies or any edible form.
Though marijuana has reduced the frequency and severity of convulsions in patients with severe epilepsy, critics of cannabis therapy declare that there is no concrete medical evidence that shows that marijuana is an effective form of treatment for any form of epilepsy.
They also opine that more research and clinical trials need to be done on its long-term effects on children before it can be declared a safe alternative to prescription medications.
Medical marijuana proponents disagree. They say that its safety profile is well known since it has been used for thousands of years by mankind, and that doctors say that because they’re influenced by the money pharmaceutical companies give around the medical industry.