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Marijuana or cannabis has been used for centuries to treat different ailments, but unfortunately, it has gained a bad reputation as a drug that people get high off of. Although there is scientific evidence for the efficacy of marijuana as a treatment for certain neurological conditions, the legal issues surrounding access has hampered research and study into its applications. In particular, its uses in treating seizures and epilepsy have been advocated for by the Florida Medical Marijuana advocates.

What is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a neurological condition in which certain brain cells become abnormally excitable. This causes the person to have convulsions and sometimes lose consciousness. Epilepsy is not a temporary condition. Studies have shown that more than three million Americans suffer from epilepsy and that these numbers are growing every year. There are treatments and medications that are prescribed for epilepsy, but some people do not respond well to normal pharmacological treatments.

Current treatment of seizures and epilepsy
Epilepsy cannot be cured, but the symptoms can be controlled. Most patients who are diagnosed with epilepsy are given treatment to control seizures. Treatment is important, even if the seizures aren’t severe, because seizures can occur at any point. Medications like Clobazam (Onfil), carbamazepine, phenytoin, valproic acid, phenobarbital, and primidone are often prescribed to control seizures. However most medications are formulated specifically to control standard epilepsy, even though there are different types of epilepsy. These medications don’t always work and they have unpleasant side effects like sedation, slurred speech, double speech, irritability, dizziness, and hyperactivity in children. This means that patients and their families not only have to deal with the condition, but also with unpleasant side effects.
For years, scientists have been trying to find alternative treatments for epilepsy. One treatment that has shown great promise has been treatment with marijuana. Marijuana has been purported to have positive effects on a number of health conditions and epilepsy has emerged as a condition that can be treated successfully with marijuana. There are many patients who cannot tolerate traditional anti-seizure medications but have found marijuana to be helpful.

Marijuana epilepsy treatment
What makes Marijuana an effective alternative treatment? When we mention marijuana, we are talking about the entire plant, from the leaves to the female flowers. Marijuana contains two major ingredients, Tetrahydrocannabinol also known as THC and Cannabidiol known as CBD. THC is the ingredient that produces the “high” that cannabis users feel, while cannabidiol has no psychoactive effects but has been found to have positive effects on certain body systems. It is CBD that has been found to be effective in treating epileptic seizures.
The use of Florida medical marijuana has been a controversial subject for a while. Although a number of states have legalized the use of medical marijuana, state laws aren’t the same as federal laws which still regards the use of marijuana, even if it’s classified as medicinal and prescribed by a doctor, as illegal.

Studies on the effects of medical marijuana
Recently, medical marijuana has been in the news as the effects of cannabis in treating epilepsy in children have come under the spotlight. There have been many stories of medical marijuana has helping children with the more aggressive types of epilepsy like Dravet Syndrome and Lennox-Gasaut syndrome. The University of Colorado has conducted studies to determine genetic predisposition to certain strains of marijuana. Both the Indica and Sativa strains of marijuana have proven useful medically. The Indica strain contains more CBD than THC, but it does have a sedative effect, making it useful in treating other medical symptoms like sleep disorders, pain, anxiety, and muscle spasms.
The Sativa strain does not contain as much CBD as Indica and it has an uplifting or energizing effect. Some users have found relief from muscle spasms and it has also been found to alleviate nausea and stimulate appetite. Medical marijuana strains with higher concentrations of CBD, rather than THC, have been found to be more effective for the treatment of seizures and epilepsy. With the changing laws and the legalization in Florida of medical marijuana, more doctors are prescribing it, especially for children with more severe forms of epilepsy. The changes in state laws like Florida’s laws on the use of medical marijuana will help a lot of people receive the treatment they need and improve their quality of life.

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