CBD for Seizures- Use, Effectiveness, Side Effects, and More
If you have seizures or are the parent of a child who has seizures, then you are probably constantly on the lookout for ways to control seizures with as few side effects as possible. CBD oil is one of the latest things to be touted as a miracle cure for seizures. While its effects are not the miracle cure some people suggest, it is a promising treatment that might be right for you.
What is CBD?
CBD is short for cannabidiol, which is a chemical found in marijuana. It is not the same as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical in cannabis that is responsible for the “high” feeling people get from marijuana.
What does CBD do?
Well, people make many claims about what CBD can do. Not all of them have been tested and verified. However, there is support for claims that CBD may help reduce pain and anxiety.
Does CBD help seizures?
The short answer is yes. CBD can help prevent some types of seizures in some people and animals. Clinical trials have demonstrated a significant reduction in seizures for people taking CBD to treat Lennox-Gastaut, Dravet syndrome, or tuberous sclerosis complex. Research in other areas is still in early stages, but there are indications that CBD may help prevent other types of seizure or increase the efficacy of other antiepileptic medications. Early clinical trials suggest that CBD may dramatically reduce seizures in people with CDKL5 deficiency disorder, Aicardi syndrome, Doose syndrome, and Dup15q syndrome. In addition, CBD appeared to retain its efficacy over the length of the clinical trial.
How does CBD help prevent seizures?
That is a wonderful question, but, unfortunately, the research simply is not sufficient to give a definitive answer. What we do know is that bodies contain natural neurotransmitters and receptors known as the endocannabinoid system. CBD is believed to interact with that system, which is believed to influence a range of bodily functions and systems including immune response, appetite, pain, and sleep.
Is CBD approved by the FDA to treat seizures?
Yes, but not all CBD oils and not all types of seizures. Currently, Epidolex, a prescription form of CBD, is approved to treat seizures caused by Lennox-Gastaut, Dravet syndrome, and tuberous sclerosis complex.
Does CBD interact with other seizure medications?
Yes. We know that CBD interacts with brivaracetam, clobazam, eslicarbazepine, stiripentol, rufinamide, topirimate, valproic acid, and zonisamide. It also possible that it interacts with other antiepileptics, and as research continues, we should have a better idea of other possible interactions.
How do I use CBD or CBD oil to treat seizures?
If you have a seizure disorder, you should be seeing a neurologist for treatment. It is very important to discuss whether you should use CBD oil with your neurologist. While it is generally safe to use, there is always a risk of potential drug interactions. In addition, some people actually experience an increase in seizures when they use CBD. Therefore, just like with any antiepileptic drugs, you want to have a professional monitoring your use of CBD.
What is an average clinical use of CBD to treat seizures?
The starting dose for CBD is 2.5 mg/kg of Epidolex, two times a day. A normal maintenance dosage is 5mg/kg twice daily, and the maximum dosage is 10mg/kg twice daily. As with other antiseizure medications, it should be introduced or stopped gradually, as sudden changes can increase seizure activity.
What are the potential side effects of CBD when used to treat seizures?
Whether used alone or with other seizure medications, there are some potential side effects of using CBD to treat seizures. It can lead to an increase in suicidal thoughts or behaviors, sleepiness, drowsiness, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. While most of these side effects are inconvenient, interactions can also cause liver damage.
Can CBD increase my seizures?
This is a tricky question to answer. Anecdotally, it seems clear that some percentage of people will have an increase in the number of seizures in response to using CBD. However, why is not so clear. Research seems to suggest that people who use commercial CBD products are likely to see an increase in seizures, while people using prescription CBD are likely to see a reduction in seizures. The speculation is that commercial products are not pure CBD, but are tainted with THC, which is known to be a potential seizure trigger.
Can I use over-the-counter CBD to treat epilepsy?
The problem with OTC CBD is that it is not regulated by the FDA. This makes it impossible to know what dose you would be getting, if the product is contaminated with impurities, or if it even is CBD. If you want to explore using CBD to treat seizures, talk with your doctor about adding Epidolex, an FDA regulated product that eliminates the specific risks posed by an OTC product, to your treatment plan.
CBD Oil for Seizures & Epilepsy: How Cannabis Oil Can Stop Seizures
According to the Michigan Epilepsy Foundation, 1% of Americans suffer from some form of epilepsy — a recurring neurological disorder known for frequent, often unprovoked seizures.
Epilepsy compromises all aspects of a person’s daily life. The violent tremors caused by a seizure attack can put the individual in grave danger, not to mention that people with epilepsy are also prone to suffer from sleep issues, migraines, anxiety disorders, and depression.
Of all epilepsy forms, up to 40% is drug-resistant, meaning the patient doesn’t react to Antiepileptic Drugs (AEDs). For these patients, AEDs are simply ineffective, or the side-effects are too severe to allow for continuous treatment.
As a result, many turn to natural resources to help manage their condition. CBD oil is one promising option whose antiepileptic effects have been thoroughly studied by scientists.
In this article, I’ll cover the potential benefits of CBD oil for epilepsy and seizures — and share the top brands I trust when it comes to manufacturing high-quality CBD oil.
Best CBD Oil Brands for Epilepsy & Seizures
There are lots of different CBD companies trying to make their name in the market with their CBD oil. Some brands provide high-quality products and can back up their claims with third-party lab reports. In contrast, others tend to take advantage of unaware consumers with lots of fancy buzzwords and unrealistic promises.
If you want a clean and potent CBD oil, you need to find a manufacturer that makes organic products with proper quality assurance.
Don’t have time for that? Don’t worry — I did the research for you.
Here are my top 3 brands that make premium CBD oil for different types of consumers.
1. Royal CBD
Get 15% off all Royal CBD products. Use code “CFAH” at checkout.
- Royal CBD comes from organic hemp grown on American farms
- The company employs CO2 extraction so their extracts are clean and safe
- Their CBD oil comes in three different strengths: 250 mg, 500 mg, 1000 mg, and 2500 mg
- Up to 83.3 mg of CBD per mL
- Hemp extract is suspended in premium MCT oil
- Every batch of product has been tested by a third-party laboratory
- No vapes or vape oils available (yet)
- The price is on the higher end, although justified
My Thoughts on Royal CBD:
Royal CBD is a premium brand that uses only high-quality ingredients in their product lineup. The company’s product range includes every basic CBD format, from sublingual drops to gummies and capsules.
The oil and capsules are full-spectrum, meaning they also contain other cannabinoids and terpenes from hemp. Gummies, on the other hand, contain 99% pure isolate.
The Royal CBD oil comes in three different potencies: 250 mg, 500 mg, 1000 mg, and 2500 mg. The strongest option gives you 83 mg of CBD/mL. I would recommend this variant for stronger symptoms. Those who need noticeably higher doses of CBD may find the weaker bottles cost-prohibitive.
If you don’t want to measure out the oil each time you need CBD, you may switch to Royal capsules. Each softgel carries 25mg of full-spectrum cannabidiol in an easy-to-swallow form.
All Royal CBD products are sent to third-party laboratories for content analysis — checking the potency of CBD as well as purity levels.
2. Gold Bee (Best Organic)
- Unique product selection
- Non-GMO, Colorado grown hemp
- Full-spectrum CBD
- Extracted with CO2
- Up tp to 1200 mg of CBD per bottle (40 mg/mL)
- Sweetened with organic honey
- Third-party lab tested for potency and purity
- No high-strength oils
- Not available in-store
My Thoughts On Gold Bee:
Gold Bee specializes in all-organic CBD products, including full-spectrum CBD oil, high-potency CBD capsules, gummies, and delicious honey sticks. The company’s CBD oil is available in one potency option, packing 1200 mg of CBD per bottle.
This concentration translates into 40 mg of CBD in each milliliter. The oil has been suspended in premium-grade MCT oil and infused with natural terpenes to enhance the synergy between CBD and other compounds in hemp. There are two flavors available: natural and kiwi. The kiwi flavor is sweetened with organic honey, which only adds to the product’s value.
I’ve been taking the Gold Bee CBD oil for 30 days, using the dosage based on the recommended serving size. At first I was skeptical because I got used to higher doses in my routine — low doses could hardly calm my nervous system.
To my surprise, 1 mL a day split into two doses was enough to boost my resistance to stress and the outside stimuli. After two weeks, I slightly decreased the dosage and was still getting pretty good results. This was the first time a potency lower 1500 mg lasted more than 1 month for me.
- CBDPure products come from organic hemp grown in Colorado
- The company uses CO2 extraction
- All products are tested by 3rd-party laboratories for potency and purity
- Available in 60 mL bottles
- 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed program — you can send your order back within 90 days for a full refund
- CBDPure only sells CBD oil and capsules
- The oil is slightly less potent than Royal CBD
My Thoughts on CBDPure:
CBDPure was established in 2016 by a group of cannabis advocates from Colorado. The company has a simple mission, which is to make premium-quality CBD oils from organic hemp.
Although CBDPure has a very narrow product range — offering only CBD oil and capsules — they seem to have perfected these products. All extracts from CBDPure are obtained using supercritical CO2 and tested in a certified laboratory for quality assurance.
The oil isn’t as potent as the one offered by Royal CBD, but if you benefit from lower doses, their 60-mL bottles will get you supplied for months to come. Their oils are a good option for people who use CBD for general health care or to ease mild symptoms.
If you’re looking for something potent, try CBDPure capsules — each softgel is infused with 25 mg of full-spectrum CBD for easier dosing and extra convenience.
CBDPure has a Satisfaction Guarantee program, so in case you ended up unsatisfied with your purchase, you can get a full refund if you send the order back within 90 days.
- CBDistillery uses Colorado-grown hemp
- Their products are available as full-spectrum or isolate
- They have an impressive product selection
- Each batch is sent to a 3rd-party lab for content analysis
- Very affordable
- Their hemp isn’t organic
My Thoughts on CBDistillery:
CBDistillery is a company founded in Denver, Colorado. They’ve been offering high-quality CBD oil products for over 5 years now. One of the driving forces behind the brand is to manufacture CBD oil for every budget and promote research and education among consumers all over the country.
CBDistillery has many different forms of CBD, from sublingual tinctures to capsules, gummies, topicals, and vapes. Their CBD oil is available as ‘full-spectrum’ or isolate.
These oils come in two different sizes — 15 mL and 30 mL
The potency of the 15 mL bottle ranges between 150–1,000 mg of CBD. The 30 mL bottle offers from 2,500–5,000 of total CBD.
With such a wide potency range, CBDistillery oils may suit both novice and experienced consumers alike. The only downside to the company’s product range is that they’re not made with organic hemp.
However, this becomes understandable once you consider the price of CBDistillery products. The company may not sell the best CBD oil on the market, but they offer the best CBD products in this price range.
What is CBD Oil?
CBD oil is a cannabis extract with high concentrations of CBD. This product can be sourced from both marijuana and hemp, two members of the cannabis plant family.
It’s worth noting that marijuana-derived CBD oil contains higher levels of THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid responsible for getting users “high.”
CBD oil from hemp has only trace amounts of THC — typically below 0.3% — and thus can’t produce any psychoactive effects.
That’s because CBD is non-psychoactive per se.
CBD oil reportedly has a plethora of health benefits. However, the best-documented evidence thus far comes from epilepsy trials.
Does CBD Oil Work for Seizures?
The earliest studies proving the effectiveness of cannabis compounds in the treatment of convulsions came from animal research from the 1970s. The researchers analyzed the anticonvulsant properties of both THC and CBD oils, concluding that both extracts had substantial effects on mice.
Early experiments reported that the seizure activity might in part, be regulated by the endocannabinoid system — an interconnected network of cannabinoid receptors and neurotransmitters called endocannabinoids.
The Mechanism Behind the Antiepileptic Effects of CBD
The endocannabinoid system works to keep the body in a state of equilibrium, maintaining chemical balance and controlling biological functioning, from appetite to motor control, sensory perception, sleep, and inflammation.
It sends signals to various bodily systems through its chemical messengers called endocannabinoids to do this. These molecules bind to the cannabinoid receptors which occur in the brain and throughout the body. By doing so, endocannabinoids help the endocannabinoid system to maintain healthy functioning of an individual.
Once endocannabinoids have done their work, they get broken down by enzymes to prevent overaccumulation.
As a cannabinoid, CBD is almost identical in its chemical structure as endocannabinoids produced by your body. When you ingest CBD, it’s able to affect cannabinoid receptors on top of acting on several other pathways.
While scientists still don’t know exactly how CBD oil works for seizures, they’ve observed the following interactions which may explain the positive effects:
- Endocannabinoids are neuroprotectants, lowering the risk of seizures caused by neurotoxicity. When a person ingests CBD, they introduce more cannabinoids to their system—potentially improving the performance of the endocannabinoid system with their neuroprotective properties.
- The endocannabinoid system also modulates neuroexcitation, a process that may trigger seizures. A properly functioning endocannabinoid system, bolstered by additional cannabinoids from CBD oil, may prevent the overexcitation of neurons.
- CBD is also an anti-inflammatory agent. Seizures may be triggered, or their frequency may be increased by brain inflammation. By curbing neuroinflammation, CBD may reduce both the severity and frequency of seizure attacks.
Now, let’s elaborate on the scientific findings regarding the antiepileptic properties of CBD oil.
What the Research Says
The majority of specific case studies from the late 1990s, and the early 2000s focused on the effect of THC/CBD solutions on epilepsy. Due to the psychoactive nature of THC, the eyes of modern medicine turned to CBD.
In June 2018, the FDA approved the first CBD-based drug. The oral spray, called Epidiolex, contains 99% pure CBD. It’s used for treatment-resistant forms of childhood epilepsy — such as Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.
Both diseases begin during early childhood and often lead to delayed or poor development of the child’s motor skills, language, intellectual aptitude, and the ability to communicate with others.
Before receiving the FDA’s approval, Epidiolex went through three randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials examining 516 patients with either syndrome. When administered along with other medications, Epidiolex successfully reduced the participant’s frequency of seizures compared to the placebo group. Besides, CBD improved other associated symptoms for the participants, such as sleep and anxiety.
Currently, Epidiolex can be officially used to treat these two types of epilepsy. However, recent research suggests that CBD may help relieve other forms of this disease as well.
For instance, a 2015 study analyzing the reports from Epidiolex patients from 11 epilepsy centers across the country showed that the frequency of seizures decreased by 36.5% after a 13-week treatment.
All subjects had severe, childhood-onset forms of epilepsy, including Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet Syndrome. The researchers started with a dose of 2–5 mg/kg per day and gradually increased it to 25–50 mg/kg per day.
Can You Develop a Tolerance to CBD Oil for Seizures?
People who have treatment-resistant epilepsy tend to experience a “honeymoon” period upon switching to a new therapy. In other words, they stop feeling the effects of their new treatment after a few months. In late 2018, scientists observed that the same pattern might apply to CBD treatment.
The study examined nearly 100 patients, of which about one-third developed a tolerance to CBD. The tolerance showed up about seven months after they began the therapy. From then on, they had to increase the dose to maintain the effects. When the dose was higher, nearly half of the examined sample experienced their previous response level.
The good news, though, is that for two-thirds of participants, the CBD proved effective in the long run.
How to Use CBD Oil for Epilepsy
CBD can take many forms. Epidiolex, the only approved CBD treatment for epilepsy, is an oral solution containing 99% pure CBD.
If you want to use CBD in a more natural form to see how it works for your symptoms, you may try the following formats:
- Sublingual drops: The most common form of CBD. The drops are administered via a dropper under the tongue, where they get absorbed through special membranes into the bloodstream. Sublingual drops provide the most consistent blood absorption rates according to studies.
- Capsules: CBD capsules are sold as pills and softgels. You just swallow them like any other pill. They offer a fixed dose of CBD in each serving, which makes dosing easier than sublingual drops, not to mention you can avoid any natural hemp taste.
- Vape oils: this form of CBD is inhaled through a vaporizer or vape pen. Many people prefer vape oils over other products because they find the act of inhalation relaxing, and they like the flavoring of vape oils. But most importantly, vape oils deliver more CBD to your system than any other consumption method.
CBD Oil Dosage for Epilepsy & Seizures
The dose-finding process will vary between patients. As with every new substance, a conservative approach and slow dosage increase will minimize the chance of severe side effects and leave room for adjusting the dose from the starting point.
For each individual, the optimal CBD dosage will depend on the following:
- CBD concentration
- Cannabinoid spectrum
- Route of administration
- Lifestyle choices
- Medications the patient is already taking
Dr. Karen Keough, Chief Medical Officer at Compassionate Cultivation, created general dosage guidelines for dosing CBD oil to both adults and children who have epilepsy.
Dosing Recommendations for Children
Depending on the severity of symptoms, children may go through low-dose initiation and high-dose initiation.
Low-Dose Initiation instructions:
- Start with 0.25 mg/lb/day
- The minimum dose is 10 mg
- Target dose ranges between 1–5 mg/lb/day. Higher doses are tolerated but at the cost of some mild side effects, such as dry mouth, dry eyes, low blood pressure, sedation, and dizziness.
- Average dose is 1–3 mg/lb/day
- Increase the dose every 1–2 weeks by 0.5 mg/lb/day, topping to the nearest 10 mg as long as there are no side effects.
High-Dose Initiation in Children:
- Start with 0.5mg/lbs/day
- Target dose ranges between 1–5 mg/lb/day
- Average dose is 1-3 mg/lb/day
- Increase the dose every 1–2 weeks by 0.5 mg/lb/day and monitor the effects
- If side-effects occur, leave more time between dose increases and go up more gradually
Dosing Recommendations for Adults
Considering the factors above, such as body weight and metabolism, adults with epilepsy need more CBD in their regime than children. Use the following guidelines to reach an effective dose:
Low CBD dose in adults:
- Start with 25 mg twice daily
- Go up by 25 mg per dose every 1–2 weeks
- Target dose ranges between 100–300 mg twice a day if no side effects are observed. Clinical trials have utilized doses as high as 1,500 mg of CBD daily, but such high doses might not be necessary to achieve seizure relief in most patients
High CBD dose in adults:
- Start with 50 mg twice daily
- Go up every 1–2 weeks by 50 mg/dose
- Target dose ranges between 200–500 mg twice a day if tolerated. You may stop sooner if seizures are gone to prevent further dosage increase and possible side effects.
Where to Find CBD Oil for Sale for Epilepsy & Seizures
CBD oil is available both in cannabis dispensaries and online retail stores. Dispensaries give you access to a wide range of cannabis products, including CBD oil from hemp. However, these places may not always carry the best products, and the bottles have probably spent some time on the shelves before being sold so that they may lose potency over time due to poor storage.
That’s why I buy my CBD oil online. The majority of CBD stuff is sold this way, so you have more options to choose from. Also, you can verify the reputation of your potential vendor with the help of online research. Read user reviews, check for third-party lab reports, and learn how your company sources its CBD to make sure you’re getting a clean and potent product.
The delivery time for CBD oil is usually 2–3 business days. But in my opinion, it’s worth it to wait a few days more to get a high-quality product for a good price — CBD oil ordered online is usually less expensive than what you see in a dispensary.
Using CBD Oil for Seizures: Will It Help?
Cannabinoids have many proven beneficial effects on health, particularly in the treatment and management of epileptic seizures. Epilepsy is currently the only FDA-approved condition for treatment with CBD — although this approval doesn’t apply to hemp-derived CBD oil.
Still, if you want to try CBD oil for better management of your symptoms, I hope this guide has helped you understand how to use it to get the most out of its benefits. Just remember to start low and slow with the dosage.
But above all, consult with your doctor before purchasing any CBD product — just to make sure it won’t negatively interfere with any medications you’re taking.
Do you know any examples of people who successfully reduced the frequency of their seizures with CBD oil? Share your stories in the comments below!
- Filloux, F. M. (2016). Cannabinoids for Pediatric Epilepsy? Up in Smoke or Real Science? Translational Pediatrics, 4(4), 271–282.
- Perucca, E. (2017). Cannabinoids in the Treatment of Epilepsy: Hard Evidence at Last? Journal of Epilepsy Research, 7(2), 61–76.
- Devinsky, O. et al. (2016). Cannabidiol in Patients With Treatment-Resistant Epilepsy: An Open-Label Interventional Trial. The Lancet: Neurology, 15(3), 270–278.
- Mannila, J., Jarvinen, T., Jarvinen, K., Jarho, P. (2007). Precipitation Complexation Method Produces Cannabidiol/Beta-Cyclodextrin Inclusion Complex Suitable for Sublingual Administration of Cannabidiol. Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 96(2), 312–9.
- Millar, S.A., Stone, N.L., Yates, A.S. & O’Sullivan, S.E. (2018) A Systematic Review on the Pharmacokinetics of Cannabidiol in Humans. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 9, 1365.
Nina created CFAH.org following the birth of her second child. She was a science and math teacher for 6 years prior to becoming a parent — teaching in schools in White Plains, New York and later in Paterson, New Jersey.
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Advocacy: Medical Cannabis CBD
While not everyone with epilepsy should or would consider medical cannabis or cannabidiol (CBD) as a treatment option, some people living with uncontrolled seizures have reported beneficial effects and reduced seizure activity when using medical cannabis, especially strains rich in CBD. Further research is needed on the effects of medical cannabis on epilepsy, but when recommended by a treating physician, medical cannabis may be the best alternative for some individuals living with drug-resistant epilepsy and uncontrolled seizures.
Access to medical cannabis will support increased research efforts and allow individuals who have failed to gain seizure control an option for treatment.
The Epilepsy Foundation is committed to supporting physician-directed care, and to exploring and advocating for all potential treatment options for epilepsy, including cannabidiol (CBD) oil and medical cannabis. We support safe, legal access to medical cannabis and CBD if a patient and their health care team feel that the potential benefits of medical cannabis or CBD for uncontrolled epilepsy outweigh the risks.
We also support breaking down barriers to research to better understand the potential therapeutic benefits and harms of cannabis. The Epilepsy Foundation does not have a policy position on adult use recreational cannabis programs – however, under these laws, individuals and their physicians are able to work together to access cannabis to control seizures when medically appropriate.
As of November 2020, 48 states and the District of Columbia have legalized either the recreational or medical use of cannabis on the local level. Under federal law, cannabis remains a Schedule I controlled substance, and illegal to use, buy, sell, or possess. The restrictive Schedule I status also creates a significant barrier to conducting medical research on the benefits or harms of cannabis as a treatment option for epilepsy and seizures as well as other complex, chronic conditions.
During the November 2020 elections, Arizona, New Jersey, South Dakota, and Montana residents approved ballot measures to allow for the adult recreational use of cannabis. Mississippi and South Dakota residents approved ballot measures to allow for the medical use of cannabis as well. The Arizona law will take effect on November 30, 2020 when election results are certified, and public sale of cannabis could begin as soon as March 2021. New Jersey’s constitutional amendment takes effect January 1, 2021 and will issue regulations and licenses for cannabis businesses in the coming months. On February 2, 2022, Mississippi became the 37th state to adopt medical cannabis laws when Governor Tate Reeves signed SB 2095 into law.