CBD oil is an oil made from cannabidiol, which is a chemical compound found in the cannabis plant. Cannabidiol is non-psychoactive, unlike tetrahydrocannabinol – or THC – which is another compound of the cannabis plant. THC is the psychoactive compound that is responsible for the ‘high’ people feel when taking cannabis. CBD, meanwhile, has no psychoactive properties and is thought to be responsible for the medicinal benefits associated with cannabis.
One medical benefit CBD oil has been claimed to have is for the treatment of epilepsy.
Epilepsy is a condition affecting the brain, which causes people to have what are known as ‘seizures’. Seizures are bursts of electrical activity in the brain that temporarily affect how it works.
They can cause a wide range of symptoms, including uncontrollable jerking and shaking, losing awareness and staring blankly into space, becoming stiff, experiencing strange sensations in the body, and collapsing.
The most common current treatment for epilepsy is the use of medicines called anti-epileptic drugs. AEDs can’t cure epilepsy but can stop seizures from happening.
Other treatments include surgery to remove a small part of the brain that’s causing seizures, and a procedure to put a small electrical device inside the body that can help control seizures.
Recent claims have suggested CBD oil may also help to treat epilepsy and prevent seizures from occurring. But are these claims legitimate?
According to the Epilepsy Society, there is “some evidence” to show that CBD can be effective in reducing some types of seizures in Dravet and Lennox Gastaut syndromes – both of which are types of epilepsy.
“Three double blind randomised controlled trials of pure CBD in children and young people with these syndromes has shown a greater reduction in monthly seizures compared to placebos,” said the society.
“There was also a greater reduction in drop seizures in people taking CBD compared to those on a placebo.
“Further open label studies have shown that it may also have an anti-epileptic effect in the epilepsies in general.”
However, research into the effectiveness of CBD for the treatment of epilepsy is ongoing, and doctors may only recommend it if conventional treatments are unsuitable.
According to Dr Andrew Thornber, chief medical officer at Now Patient, there has been a lot of research suggesting CBD may be of benefit in controlling some of the main symptoms of cerebral palsy.
He previously told Express.co.uk: “Research on medical marijuana and cerebral palsy is still limited, but findings from studies suggest that it offers a host of benefits, including pain control, reduction of spastic movements, seizures reduction, and more.
“I would always recommend anyone wanting to take any medicine that isn’t registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council to do so with caution and almost always have a chat with your pharmacist or GP at your next visit to take their advice.”
CBD oil can be bought from pharmacies and health shops without a prescription. It has been around for some time, but popularity for the product has only recently surged in the UK.
CBD oil is different to medicinal cannabis, which is the general term for medicinal products containing any part of the cannabis plant – not just CBD.
Medicinal cannabis, which was legalised in the UK last November, can only be prescribed by a specialist when all other treatment options are considered unsuitable.
The NHS warns against buying CBD oil online, as products sold and bought over the internet from unreputable sources may be illegal to possess or supply. They may not necessarily be safe to use and may contain THC.
The health body also advises that CBD oils sold in health stores are not guaranteed to be of good quality and tend to only contain very small amounts of CBD – making their effects unclear.