What is epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a relatively common neurological condition that causes seizures, to a varying degree. Epilepsy can begin at any age, but most often starts either in childhood or in people over 60. It’s usually a lifelong condition but can sometimes improve over time.

Epilepsy affects one in every 100 people in the UK, with 87 more people being diagnosed every day. For some, the seizures can be life-threatening, while for others the symptoms can be managed and a relatively ordinary life can still be lived. There are also specific forms of epilepsy that can occur within certain groups, such as Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome that affects epileptic children.


What are the symptoms of epilepsy?

The main symptom of epilepsy is seizures. These are bursts of electrical activity in the brain that temporarily affect how it functions. As a result, they can cause a wide range of symptoms of their own. These include:

  • Uncontrollable jerking and shaking, known as a fit
  • Losing awareness and staring blankly into space
  • Becoming stiff
  • Strange sensations, such as a ‘rising’ feeling in the stomach, unusual smells or tastes, and a tingling feeling in your arms or legs
  • Collapsing
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Amnesia

The symptoms will vary in variety, severity, and regularity depending on what area of the brain is affected by the seizures. Different areas of the brain present different symptoms and also affect how likely it is for the patient to make a full recovery.


What causes epilepsy?

In most cases, it’s not clear why epilepsy occurs. Experts can rarely say for certain why it appears in specific people. For some, it could be partly caused by the patient’s genes, affecting how your brain works. Roughly one in three people with epilepsy have a family member who also has the condition.

Otherwise, epilepsy can be caused by damage to the brain, such as damage from:

  • Strokes
  • Brain tumours
  • Severe head injuries
  • Drug abuse or alcohol misuse
  • Brain infections
  • Lack of oxygen during birth

The cause of the epileptic condition will often affect which areas of the brain are affected. As noted above, this in turn affects the symptoms experienced by the patient and the severity.


What treatment options are available for epilepsy?

Epilepsy is usually a lifelong condition, but there are some forms of treatment that can help reduce and even get rid of the seizures altogether. This dramatically improves the quality of life, often removing all symptoms entirely.

Treatments options include:

  • Anti-epileptic drugs
  • Surgery to remove a small part of the brain that’s causing the seizures
  • A procedure that puts a small electrical device inside the body to help control seizures
  • A ketogenic diet to help control seizures

Some people need treatment for life, while others are able to stop treatment if your seizures disappear over time.


How can medical cannabis help with epilepsy?

In 2019, an American study from Debopam Samanta, ‘Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Efficacy and Safety in Epilepsy’, shows that cannabinoids have antiepileptic properties and acknowledges how medical cannabis has been used to treat epilepsy since ancient times. Although it cannot cure epilepsy on its own, it has been shown to reduce the severity and regularity of the seizures, improving the overall quality of life. 

The Medical Cannabis Clinics’ team is dedicated to raising awareness about how medical cannabis can help with a range of conditions, including epilepsy. Your prescription can be tailored to suit your individual circumstances and needs, with ongoing support and adjustments made as necessary.

At The Medical Cannabis Clinics, we offer personalised treatment plans and private care for patients through online video link consultations with our expert specialist doctors, who will guide you through the treatment options available from the clinic.

Appointments start from just £70. Book a private consultation today and one of our expert specialist doctors will be able to offer you targeted advice and treatment plans, unique to your needs and symptoms.

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