July 2018 was historic as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first cannabis-associated medication. The medicine, called Epidiolex, created by GW Pharmaceuticals, is 98 per cent CBD oil. The FDA allowed the medication for two rare types of juvenile epilepsy, and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) removed the Schedule 1 classification for any medication approved by FDA.
This approval came after clinical trials with 517 patients using Epidiolex along with their normal anti-seizure medications. In these trials, about half of the patients saw a reduction of seizures to 50 per cent of the pre-Epidiolex use, and 6.7 per cent became seizure free. A year’s supply of Epidiolex costs about $32,000 and even more at a higher dose.
Charlotte Figi and CDB for Epilepsy
The credit for the CBD discovery in treating epilepsy probably belongs to the grandfather of Charlotte Figi, a girl with Dravet Syndrome (a lifelong form of epilepsy). She was having up to 300 seizures a week when her grandfather found research suggesting marijuana might help. Taking this information to the Stanley Brothers in Colorado, they tried a cannabis plant with low THC and high CBD. With that plant, and extraction, they created Charlotte’s Web, a CBD-based product that helped Charlotte become seizure free. Since this discovery in 2011, thousands of patients have used Charlotte’s Web CBD.
Read also: Can Cannabis Treat Epilepsy?
My Personal Journey
I am a 70-year-old hydroponics enthusiast. I was first diagnosed with epilepsy when I was 20 years old. I have spent 50 years on and off epilepsy medications to control my seizure disorder. I can go years without seizure activity and then have seizures again. I have a long history of trying to treat my disorder with just about every remedy imaginable.
I now have osteoporosis, caused partly from using Dilantin as a seizure medication. This has resulted in new disability issues related to broken bones. In the past year I have broken five ribs.
Additionally, I have been experimenting with live hemp and marijuana plants for at least 50 years. The use of smoked marijuana did not help me; in fact, it caused vertigo. The wild hemp plants, without THC, seemed to help a bit, but smoking did not work, so I started making a tea with fresh leaves.
Read also: Top Five Strains High in CBD
To maintain a seizure medication, the body should have a relatively stable amount of the medication in your system. When taking Dilantin, for example, a typical prescription is a certain amount taken four times a day. With most seizure medications, there are difficult side effects. The way they make you feel is a sort of a kicked-back feeling, and by the time the medication controls seizures, you are likely to be operating in a diminished capacity.
Thirty per cent of the people with a seizure disorder do not respond to any seizure medications. These people are called intractable and could use a new medication.
Because most of the seizure medications do not work for me, I am considered either intractable on non-compliant. Because of this history, I am not allowed to drive.
Live-Plant Seizure Control
I use live hemp plants to maintain seizure control. This discovery has helped me more than any other medication or herbal remedy. Depending upon where I was living and what decade it was, I was either breaking the law, risking going to jail, or other terrible consequences. I raise my plants in an indoor growroom and then make a tea from the fresh leaf, twice a day (grow details and recipe at the end of this article).
I have tried different strains and settled on a hemp plant from Poland that has a CBD-A content of 4.7 per cent, and a THC-A content of 0.18 per cent. I chose this product because it routinely tests under the 0.3 per cent THC, which is the federal legal limit. The CBD-A and THC-A are precursors to THC and CBD.
One of the ways I can test if I have seizure control is the light flashes I have in my head. Some days I will have about 50 light flashes that look like lightning and other days I will have none. I relate to these as spikes in my brain wave, and if I have too many, it is an indication a seizure is coming.
CBD-A does not reduce my cognitive abilities or turn me into a zombie. Many seizure meds also required taking anti-depressants and combination led to a reduced quality of life.
The fresh hemp plant leaf has many more components than CBD-A. There are an estimated 540 different phytochemicals in the plant and 110 of those are cannabinoids. There are also terpenes, which are responsible for the typical plant aroma, and help provide the entourage effect.
I believe in using whole fresh herbs for almost any herbal remedy. The fresh leaf has a large complement of active ingredients, and I might be getting seizure control from any number of them. While CBD-A could be the most important component, it is likely not the only one.
CBD-A as an Anti-Seizure Medication
GW industries, our Epidiolex creator, has filed a patent, available on the internet, for CBD-A. The patent claims that CBD- A is better than CBD for some types of seizure control. CBD-A is also more bioavailable and requires a much smaller dose than CBD.
One of the issues of taking CBD is how much of the CBD tincture will be available to the body. If liquid CBD is swallowed, the journey through the digestive track means only about 20 per cent of the CBD gets absorbed.
There is a vein under the tongue called the sublingual gland. If the CBD oil is held under the tongue, it can be absorbed directly into the bloodstream and perhaps as much as 50 per cent of the available CBD is absorbed.
According to the patent by GW Industries, since CBD-A is more bioavailable than CBD, the seizure controlling dose of CBD-A might be as little as 1-100 mg compared to doses from 10-400 mg for CBD.
The conclusions of GW mean that I could gain seizure control from 1.28-128 mg of CBD-A. Now, this could have ramifications for the CBD industry. CBD-A is available in fresh leaves and requires no further processing.
High Costs of CBD
CBD is formed from a hemp plant and requires processing. This step removes the other active ingredients of the live hemp plant and restricts the cannabinoids to just one component. Live leaf has many components that might help with a seizure disorder.
Also, the cost of an effective dose of CBD oil can be very expensive. If I use CBD oil for seizure control, I use a 1,000 mg bottle and take 20 mg a day in two doses. The necessary doses mentioned by GW Industries can be as high as 400 mg a day. The bottle I buy costs $100 and lasts for 50 days. However, I had a seizure on CBD and always felt I needed a larger dose. The cost is especially expensive because CBD is not yet covered by most insurance.
CBD-A in the live leaf and flowers is likely a better method of seizure control, and more immediately bioavailable than CBD.
Read also: How to Read CBD Product Labels
The home-grown production and use of hemp may be helpful in reducing epileptic seizures. Since this involves growing plants it can be accomplished with very little cost. The evidence is starting to build that a whole live plant can help with a variety of health issues.
The results were important in terms of health care. Hemp is a plant that can be grown at home, in a garden, or indoors. The annual cost of growing of the plant is closer to $300 a year, as opposed to $32,000 for Epidiolex.
There are an estimated 3.4 million people in the US that have a seizure disorder. If 10 per cent could be seizure free, CBD could help 340,000 people regain a normal life.
Globally, there are 50 million people living with a seizure disorder and live in countries and in conditions which make any treatment or available medications unlikely.
Hemp Growing Conditions
I have an 8x8-ft. foot growroom with a seedling growing area and a mature plant growing area. I keep 24 seedlings and 24 plants in grow out conditions. The temperature range of the growroom is between 60-85°F with a humidity of 40-60 per cent. I use T5 fluorescents over the seedlings and T5 and LED lights for the older plants. The mature plants rarely reach more than three feet tall and tend to be skinny like a corn stalk. When I harvest leaf from the plant, new leaf starts at those harvest points. I harvest between 150-200 leaves a month from this growroom.
The mature plants are replaced throughout the month and this system provides me with two to four large fresh leaves a day. A plant lasts in the growroom for about 60 days, so I replace inventory about six times a year, starting all plants from seed.
Preparing the tea
There is little information on ways to make CBD-A more bioavailable. One study from Poland claims the amount of CBD-A in a tea from water boiled for five minutes is more than 50 per cent and then diminishes with continued boiling. The study does not include fresh-leaf or unboiled tea.
- 2-3 fresh hemp CBD leaves
- 3 springs stevia
- 1 pat of butter
- Place the ingredients in a teacup and microwave for 20 seconds to melt butter. The CBD-A is soluble in fats.
- Add soymilk and water then microwave for one minute.
- Let steep for five minutes and drink.
I drink at least two cups of tea a day. The overall effect is a calming, a soft feeling about the eyes, and no light flashes whatsoever. If I have any difficult moments or any pain, I drink more tea.