Dr. Campbell: Seizures and medical marijuana - WRBL

WNCN News

Dr. Campbell: Seizures and medical marijuana

Posted: Updated:
RALEIGH, N.C. -

Marijuana has been in the news a lot lately with Washington and Colorado both legalizing the recreational use of it, but it has also been in the news for it's medical benefits when it comes to the treatment of seizures.

So what is a seizure, exactly?

A seizure is the physical findings or changes in behavior that occur after an episode of abnormal electrical activity in the brain.

Seizures of all types are caused by disorganized and sudden electrical activity in the brain.

There are many different types of seizures--they can be what we call tonic-clonic (shaking and jerking) or also "absence" seizures—where a patient stares blankly into space. All seizures are due to abnormal electrical activity in the brain and can be diagnosed by a specialist called a neurologist—often using EEG (brain wave testing) to determine where the seizure is coming from

Specific symptoms depend on what part of the brain is involved. They occur suddenly and symptoms include:

  • Brief blackout followed by period of confusion (the person cannot remember a period of time)
  • Changes in behavior such as picking at one's clothing
  • Drooling or frothing at the mouth
  • Eye movements
  • Grunting and snorting
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Mood changes such as sudden anger, unexplainable fear, panic, joy, or laughter
  • Shaking of the entire body
  • Sudden falling
  • Tasting a bitter or metallic flavor
  • Teeth clenching
  • Temporary halt in breathing
  • Uncontrollable muscle spasms with twitching and jerking limbs

As for the treatment of seizures, there are various ways to address them. One way is a strain of marijuana called "Charlotte's Web."

The marijuana is processed into an extract that is high in cannabidiol (CBD) content called Realm Oil and Alepsia. The extract does not include the psychoactive high typically associated with recreational marijuana use.

Charlotte's Web is named after Charlotte Figi, whose parents say she experienced a reduction of her epileptic seizures after her first dose of medical marijuana at five years of age.

According to Paige Figi's blog, her daughter's seizures fell from 300 a week to around 3 over an 8-month period. She does note the program was first approved by a team of neurologists and pediatricians.

The cannabidiol seems to act as a neuro-stabilizer, but doctors do not completely understand why it works to prevent seizures.

In some studies, CBD has been found to be effective at treating not just epilepsy but also at stopping metastasis in many kinds of aggressive cancer and at killing cancerous cells found in people with leukemia.

There is debate on both sides as to the efficacy of CBD for seizures—in fact, a 2012 Cochrane review of all published randomized controlled trials involving the treatment of marijuana or one of marijuana's constituents in people with epilepsy concluded that "no reliable conclusions can be drawn at present regarding the efficacy of cannabinoids as a treatment for epilepsy."

Many have asked what difference there is between Charlotte's Web and marijuana used for recreational purposes.

The answer is Charlotte's Web was developed by four brothers in Colorado through a process of breeding which created a variety with less tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and more cannabidiol (CBD) than typical varieties of marijuana.

The marijuana that produces the "high" is high in THC. Charlotte's Web contains the CBD extract—this has been shown in numerous clinical trials to NOT produce any of the negative effects seen with THC. There have been several cases reported where Charlotte's Web improved seizure control-- the treatment was low in THC, the compound associated with the psychoactive properties of marijuana, and high in cannabidiol, which is not psychoactive and is instead believed to be medicinal.

The bottom line is that we need more research to be done. We need to better understand the long term, developmental effects—it is clear that it does work for some children and we need to figure out exactly what factors predict success. 

Dr. Kevin Campbell appears on WNCN Today at 6:15 a.m. on Wednesdays.

To get in touch with Dr. Campbell, you can head to his website, Facebook page or message him on Twitter.

Copyright WNCN 2014. All rights reserved.

  • Trending StoriesTrending StoriesMore>>

  • 77-year-old questioned, defended as true Marine after NFL player takes his photo

    77-year-old questioned, defended as true Marine after NFL player takes his photo

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 1:58 PM EDT2014-07-22 17:58:35 GMT
    (WMC) - It was a story that made its rounds on social media. On a recent flight DeAngelo Williams, Mid-Southerner and running back for the Carolina Panthers, gave his first-class plane seat to a 77-year-old
    Family members are upset and hurt that their relative, James Wesley Bolden, is being called a liar and "a fake."
  • Largest companies by revenue in each state

    Largest companies by revenue in each state

    Thursday, July 10 2014 8:01 PM EDT2014-07-11 00:01:10 GMT
    Broadview Networks recently decided to find out the biggest -- by revenue -- company in each state in the US.The company used the Fortune 500 list to start with, but needed data by state, so it turned to Hoover's.With data from that company, they were able to search through each state's list of companies and then find the largest -- by revenue.Just flip through the list above and see who is the biggest in each state, what town they are based and their revenue.
    Broadview Networks recently decided to find out the biggest -- by revenue -- company in each state in the US.The company used the Fortune 500 list to start with, but needed data by state, so it turned to Hoover's.With data from that company, they were able to search through each state's list of companies and then find the largest -- by revenue.Just flip through the list above and see who is the biggest in each state, what town they are based and their revenue.
  • No swimming at some NC beaches due to high bacteria levels

    No swimming at some NC beaches due to high bacteria levels

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 12:36 PM EDT2014-07-23 16:36:19 GMT
    A map of the swimming areas along the NC coast that are affected by the recent high levels of bacteria.A map of the swimming areas along the NC coast that are affected by the recent high levels of bacteria.
    Six advisories and three alerts were issued against swimming Tuesday at nine ocean-side sites along the coast of North Carolina.
    Six advisories and three alerts were issued against swimming Tuesday at nine ocean-side sites along the coast of North Carolina.
Powered by WorldNow

1350 13th Avenue
Columbus, GA 31901

Telephone: 706.323.3333
Fax: 706.327.6655
Email: news@wrbl.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.