Medical cannabis has been declared legal in the UK. This indicates that in some cases, specialist doctors may prescribe it to manage epilepsy. In this article, we explain some of the most frequently asked questions on medical cannabis for epilepsy.
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What is Medical Cannabis?
‘Medical cannabis’ is a general term for any kind of cannabis-based medicine used to ease symptoms. These medicines are all based on a part or parts of the cannabis plant.
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The cannabis plant includes hundreds of natural chemicals. When looking at medical cannabis, the two most famous are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
CBD does not have the mood-altering outcomes often compared with cannabis. There has been a lot of study into the potential of CBD as an epilepsy therapy.
THC is the component of the cannabis plant that does people feel ‘high’. More research is required to find out if products including THC are reliable or useful for treating epilepsy.
What sorts of Medical Cannabis are Available to Manage Epilepsy?
At the time, there are no forms of medical cannabis permitted to treat epilepsy in the UK. A cannabis-based medicine called Epidiolex, including CBD is currently going through the licensing method. In the meantime, although it is unlicensed, experts may prescribe it in rare cases.
There have been a small number of examples of children with severe epilepsy being designated unlicensed cannabis oil including CBD and THC.
It’s not clear at the time how often this will be prescribed by professionals, but it’s likely to only be in very rare cases, where CBD alone hasn’t helped.
This is because there is no obvious indication that THC is of additional benefit. And there is concern about its impact on brain growth and mental health, particularly in children and young adults.
Can Someone get a Prescription for Medical Cannabis?
It’s true that medical cannabis will only be recognized as a treatment choice for a very small number of adults. Experts are likely to only prescribe medical cannabis for adults with very critical epilepsy that began in childhood. And only when all other treatments have failed.
The Association of British Neurologists (ABN) has written guidelines on the use of cannabis-based products in neurology. It states experts should only prescribe medical cannabis for adults diagnosed with Dravet syndrome or Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. These are both unique and critical forms of epilepsy.
I’ve seen CBD products online and in my local health food shop. Can I apply them to Manage my Epilepsy?
CBD products traded online and in health food shops are not permitted as medicines. Firms selling these products are not permitted to make any claims about their expertise to manage any condition. It is much unlikely that they will be made to the same pattern as medicines. And you cannot prove what their quality will be.
If you do want to use CBD products for yourself or your child, it’s essential to engage your epilepsy specialist know. This is because the CBD product could change the way you or your child’s existence epilepsy medicines work.
You should not quit taking your epilepsy medicine except your epilepsy expert tells you to, as stopping could let you have more frequent or severe seizures.