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Can Smoking Marijuana Cause Seizures?

There is limited clinical research since marijuana has long been labeled a class 1 illegal drug for many years, preventing sufficient laboratory testing. Does weed cause seizures? Some animal studies or human reports suggest that it is possible smoking weed can cause seizures or intensify the manifestation of the disease in people who have a seizure disorder. Others claim that they can also protect against seizures or relieve the intensity and reduce the frequency of seizure occurrence.

But can you get a seizure from weed? Marijuana is psychoactive, and it has pronounced effects on the human neurological and psychological state. Though the substance is widely used for medicinal purposes today, the long-standing knowledge of its illegal case contributes to many myths and prejudices surrounding its effects on health. One such issue is the relationship between marijuana and seizures.

What About Research?

The limited research suggests weed may initiate seizures in some susceptible people and protect against them in others. Other risk factors such as an underlying seizure disorder or a cardiovascular disease might make an individual more vulnerable.

Despite insufficient research, it is known that hemp possesses anti-epileptogenic and anti-convulsant properties from its interaction with CB1 and CB2 elements of the human organism's endocannabinoid system. CB1 agonism creates anti-epileptic and anti-convulsant effects, while CB2 antagonists act as pro-convulsant agents, though with anti-epileptogenic effects.

Researchers also found that marijuana often acts as a neuroprotective agent in seizure disorders.

Generally, the scarcity of research on cannabis's effects on seizures is explained by the lack of clear standardization of its current medical use. But when the available clinical evidence was analyzed, researchers determined that different CBD: THC ratios used in various studies resulted in discrepancies and were therefore non-applicable to other people smoking weed with other CBD: THC ratios.

Mechanism of Marijuana Effect on Seizures

Seizures occur when a person’s brain experiences abnormal electrical activity. The attacks can be inconspicuous and difficult to spot in some people.

According to studies and reviews, the scientific mechanism through which cannabinoids might intensify or reduce epilepsy is still not clear.

The cannabinoids in marijuana bind to the brain cannabinoid receptors and other parts of the body. These receptors are also present in areas that control seizures. Therefore, the effects of smoking marijuana on seizures may depend on which nerve cells the cannabinoids bind to, and the neurotransmitters activated or inhibited.

Some experts propose that cannabinoids can initiate epilepsy by binding to nerve cell receptors that secrete and produce inhibitory neurotransmitters like gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). A GABA disorder would lessen its inhibition of the various nerve cells it controls, causing excitement in those cells and resulting in seizure activity. On the other hand, marijuana cannabinoids can reduce seizures by binding nerve cells that inhibit glutamate production, the excitatory neurotransmitter.

CBD, THC, and Seizures

Most studies have looked at the effects of the two common and predominant cannabinoids on seizures:

  • Cannabidiol (CBD) - has no psychoactive effect
  • Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) - Its psychoactive component causes the euphoric high when smoking weed

According to existing published data, a few human and animal reports that review the effect of CBD and THC on seizures show conflicting results depending on the cannabinoid used, the dose, and the animal model.

Some human studies also found that THC in weed may provoke seizures in vulnerable people but protect against others. Gillian Levy, a co-founder and CEO of Humboldt Apothecary, notes that “the human physiological system is so complicated that one can hardly predict how the endocannabinoid receptors will respond to the consumed THC.” Plenty of research still proves that both the natural THC and JWH-018, its synthetic counterpart, contribute to provoking epileptic episodes.

CBD is extracted a Cannabis sativa. It represents terpenophenol which produces anti-psychotic, anti-seizure, and neuroprotective effects from its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Thus, CBD offers numerous health benefits for people suffering from seizures. THC-low CBD medications can be safe, effective treatment medication for children suffering from various syndromes and disorders accompanied by seizures.

So, Can Smoking Marijuana Cause Seizures?

Most experts agree that smoking marijuana does not result in the direct occurrence of a seizure. Instead, cannabinoids may be used with traditional anti-seizure medications to increase their effectiveness and increase the concentration of some anti-seizure medications like clobazam in the body.

Cannabinoids also help treat epilepsy by binding to brain receptors (CB1, CB2), which inhibit the secretion of neurotransmitters that excite the central nervous system, resulting in seizures. CBD binds to other signaling brain systems other than just the pain receptors and has anti-inflammatory and protective properties.

The idea of using marijuana to treat these episodes is gaining appeal. Researchers and experts must confirm its effectiveness and provide proper guidelines on how to give it.

Understanding Risks and Side Effects

While there is a level of consensus among patients with seizures that medicinal weed is effective, experts caution that people should understand the risks and side effects of the use of marijuana.

Some common risks to be aware of include:

  1. Psychotic episodes
  2. Hallucinations
  3. Panic attacks
  4. Impaired motor function
  5. Paranoia

Patients often choose weed-containing medications or medicinal marijuana to treat seizure disorders, pain, anxiety, and other health conditions. But due to the lack of clinical testing and varying psychoactive effects, cannabis should be controlled since it can cause adverse effects in patients, thus affecting the benefit-risk balance of using marijuana for medicinal purposes. It's also not clear how CBD might react with accompanying medications.

Like most seizure treatment medications, marijuana has also been shown to affect memory. Other studies suggest that cannabis use in children can cause a measurable decline in cognitive abilities.

The risks and side effects of weed might also depend on how it is taken. Smoking marijuana would cause health risks to the lungs while taking it through eating would not.

Similarly, the type of marijuana you buy may cause different side effects due to different cannabinoids ratios. Patients can risk seizures from smoking weed depending on the marijuana batch and its cannabinoid chemical content and whether it contains illicit substances that can provoke epilepsy, such as heroin.

Talk to a professional or doctor if you are suffering from seizure occurrences and are not responding to other treatments. They can give and explain your options, including information about using medicinal marijuana in states that allow it.

Final Thoughts

Plenty of evidence shows that marijuana does not cause any seizure-inducing psychotropic effect. The risk of seizures might only slightly depend on how much weed you smoke and how frequently you smoke it, or whether you combine it with other substances containing illicit chemicals, making you more susceptible to the disease.

But marijuana and its chemical components may be the solution for some patients with seizures. It has been used to treat various epileptic disorders since ancient times. And modern medicine recognizes the medicinal potential of marijuana as well. However, patients with a history of epilepsy or seizures should try not to self-medicate on weed. Users of marijuana should always start slow and then gradually build up their endurance and dosage for a good experience.

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