#TEAMCANNABIS4EPILEPSY: Battling Epilepsy & the Negative Stigma Around Cannabis One Step at a Time

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The Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California will bloom purple tomorrow, Saturday, February 2nd in support of the Epilepsy Foundation’s annual Los Angeles Walk to End Epilepsy. The day will include a 5K Run/Walk, a 1 Mile Stroll, lots of music, food, games, educational opportunities, and of course, some cannabis advocacy.

At Beard Bros. Pharms we are proud to lend our support to Team Cannabis 4 Epilepsy who will be participating in the event, rain or shine, to raise awareness about the impact that epilepsy can have on people’s lives as well as how the full spectrum of the cannabis plant can help.

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It is said that as many as 50 million people worldwide are afflicted with a form of epilepsy. According to the Epilepsy Foundation, 30% of those who suffer from it do not find relief from conventional treatment measures. As our buds over at #TEAMCANNABIS4EPILEPSY say on their donation page, “Seizures steal moments and memories, can change lives, impact development, affect learning and can even result in death.”

Our friend Sarai, from Kush Cake Pops, knows the realities of living with epilepsy all too well. She was just 9 years old when she had her first seizure and after two more in high school she was officially diagnosed with epilepsy.

Doctors prescribed a heavy regimen of counteracting pharmaceutical medications that Sarai says left her “physically, mentally, and spiritually” numbed.

It was not long after that she discovered cannabis. She found that moderate cannabis use helped not only with her appetite and sleep cycle, but also by returning sensation to her limbs and just giving her a better outlook on things overall.

Sarai found that eating weed, rather than smoking it, was her ideal way to get the vital cannabinoids that were helping to keep her condition in check and her life more balanced.

In 2008 she and her husband formed Organic Marijuana (OM) Bakers in the San Francisco Bay Area, and in 2012 The Kush Kakery was established, launching their now-famous Kush Cake Pops product line.

Sarai acknowledges that cannabis helps to ease her symptoms but that it is still not a cure for epilepsy. This is why she founded the Cannabis 4 Epilepsy Foundation, to support and connect with folks like her who are suffering from similar struggles, and to advocate for the power of cannabis to erode the negative stigma surrounding it and encourage others to consider it as a viable treatment option.

This is why they walk this weekend, and we agree with them that cannabis can be a lifesaving solution.

In reality, we are just scratching the surface of the healing properties of not only CBD, but THC and the wide array of cannabinoids and terpenes that occur naturally in the cannabis plant in varying ratios depending on the strain of the plant used for the extraction, and on the extraction method itself.

Decades of federal prohibition have ironically and ignorantly stunted our institutional scientific knowledge of cannabis even as one state after another passes medical marijuana laws right under the nose of the feds.

Instead, the rise in popularity of cannabis and cannabis oils and extracts as medicine had been fueled mostly by anecdotal evidence for years as patients and their families found relief for their ailments outside of the medical system.

As a 2015 article in Translational Pediatrics titled: Cannabinoids for pediatric epilepsy? Up in smoke or real science? said, “It is an exciting time with respect to the study of phytochemicals in their application to the treatment of epilepsy and in particular intractable pediatric epilepsies. It is particularly satisfying to see that the grassroots experiences of families who have children suffering from severe intractable epilepsy have been able to move the field forward so rapidly.“

The paper’s authors concluded by suggesting that the public be better informed about the potential benefits of medical marijuana, that doctors be better informed about the potential benefits of medical marijuana, and that the federal government reschedules cannabis so that proper research could take place.

THIS IS NOT WHAT THEY HAD IN MIND

After three years of intransigence from the Feds, the FDA and DEA last year approved the GW Pharmaceuticals product Epidiolex for release on the American medical market. A cannabis derived CBD tincture, the product is aimed at healing patients with very specific and intractable forms of epilepsy when more mainstream treatments have failed.

Epidiolex is the first and only FDA-approved cannabis-based treatment for use as a medical aid for seizures.

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The impact on the medical market has been mixed.

Some families are praising the medication for helping their sick child.

Others have failed to see the positive results they had hoped for.

All are made to pay as much as $32,500/year for the treatment, and nobody is pleased about that.

When our federal government passed the 2018 Farm Bill at the end of last year, it contained language essentially descheduling “hemp”, which they roughly define as a cannabis plant with less than 0.3% THC content.

The FDA was quick to remind everyone that hemp-derived CBD products would still be subject to FDA oversight and that any claims of medical benefits, healing, or the like would be heavily scrutinized and likely killed by the agency.

To make such claims, they say, one must follow the long, costly path that GW Pharma paid handsomely to take.

This roadblock by our own federal government, though crumbling by the day, is absolutely immoral and future generations will look back on this time without honor as evidence mounts that relief for some of our society’s most vulnerable members was growing right under our nose for thousands of years.

An August 2018 article in the peer-reviewed paper Brain and Development, revealed that in a study of 57 epilepsy patients ages 1-20, 56% of them responded to a controlled dose of CBD with a 50% or higher reduction in the frequency of their seizures.

The study further showed that the younger the patient (<10) and the higher the dose of CBD (>11 mg/kg/d) led to even better results.

“Adverse” reactions were reported by 46% of test subjects and this led to the cessation of the study, but not before the authors concluded: “Our results suggest that adding CBD-enriched cannabis extract to the treatment regimen of patients with refractory epilepsy may result in a significant reduction in seizure frequency according to parental reports.”

These adverse effects typically amount to tiredness, upset stomach, or diarrhea. Interestingly, however, the patients in these studies who receive a placebo instead of actual cannabis oil often report the upset stomach and diarrhea as well, leading researchers to believe that ingesting doses of almost any sort of oil could create such conditions.

These studies have been happening since the 1970’s and though methods, equipment, and access to viable test materials and subjects have improved greatly over that time the results have remained the same showing that various cannabinoids can efficiently treat certain forms of epilepsy.

More studies are needed to determine if and how the full spectrum of cannabinoids, or specific ratios of them, can best combat the effects of epilepsy. We expect to see a rapid advancement in this area of medicine over the next few years as cannabis goes even more mainstream.

Also, cannabis legalization at the state level needs to leave room for the small to midsize craft growers who will be willing to grow high quality CBD flowers for medical use. As we see in our home state of California, corporate cannabis has smothered the market and flooded it with midgrade weed intended to benefit investors’ bottom lines instead of patients’ best interests. If this is “legal weed” we still have a fight on our hands.

In the meantime, we’ll do all we can to help to spread the word and to support those on the front lines like Sarai and Team Cannabis4Epilepsy

#TEAMCANNABIS4EPILEPSY

#TEAMCANNABIS4EPILEPSY