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Treatments

Medication

Treatments are available that can successfully control seizures for most people with epilepsy. The first treatment is almost always one of the many seizure medications that are now available. Each medicine tends to work better with certain kinds of seizures than for others. If one treatment fails, another may be work better.

This section provides a list of many epilepsy medications. 

Carbamazepine

  • Atretol
  • Carbagen SR
  • Epitol
  • Mazepine
  • Tegretol
  • Tegritol
  • Teril
  • Timonil

Carbamazepine-XR

  • Carbatrol
  • Tegretol XR

Clobazam

  • Frisium
  • Onfi

Clonazepam

  • Epitril
  • Klonopin
  • Rivotril

Diazepam

  • Diastat
  • Diazepam
  • Valium

Divalproex Sodium

  • Depacon
  • Depakote
  • Epival

Divalproex Sodium-ER

  • Depakote ER

Eslicarbazepine Acetate

  • Aptiom

Ethosuximide

  • Zarontin

Ezogabine

  • Potiga

Felbamate

  • Felbatol

Gabapentin

  • Neurontin

Lacosamide

  • Vimpat

Lamotrigine

  • Lamictal

Levetiracetam

  • Keppra

Levetiracetam XR

  • Keppra XR

Lorazepam

  • Ativan

Oxcarbazepine

  • Oxtellar
  • Oxtellar XR
  • Trileptal

Perampanel

  • Fycompa

Phenobarbital

  • Phenobarbital

Phenytoin

  • Dilantin
  • Epanutin
  • Phenytek

Pregabalin

  • Lyrica

Primidone

  • Mysoline

Rufinamide

  • Banzel
  • Inovelon

Tiagabine Hydrochloride

  • Gabitril

Topiramate

  • Topamax

Topiramate XR

  • Qudexy XR
  • Trokendi XR

Valproic Acid

  • Convulex
  • Depakene
  • Depakine
  • Orfiril
  • Valporal
  • Valprosid

Vigabatrin

  • Sabril

Zonisamide

  • Zonegran

 

Surgery

Surgery is an alternative for some people whose seizures cannot be controlled by medications. It has been used for more than a century, but its use dramatically increased in the 1980s and 90s, reflecting its effectiveness as an alternative to seizure medicines. The benefits of surgery should be weighed carefully against its risks, however, because there is no guarantee that it will be successful in controlling seizures.

  • People with partial epilepsy who are considered for surgery have difficult-to-control seizures that have not responded to aggressive treatment with medication. In the past, patients usually tried several medications with poor results for many years, even decades, before being considered for surgery.
  • More recently, surgery is being considered sooner. Studies have shown that the earlier surgery is performed, the better the outcome.
  • Surgery is now being performed on some people whose seizures have been uncontrolled for only 1 or 2 years. At least two single drugs and a combination of two or more drugs should be tried before surgery is considered.
  • Epilepsy surgery can be especially helpful to people who have seizures from structural brain problems (such as benign brain tumors, strokes or malformations of blood vessels). 

Epilepsy treatment must consider a person's quality of life, not just the number of seizures. Both continued seizures and high doses of medication impose costs on all areas of a person's life—intellectual, psychological, social, educational, and employment.

  • Both medical and surgical approaches should be individualized to consider these factors when weighing the benefits of seizure control versus the risks of continued seizures and treatment side effects. 
  • State-of-the-art technology can now be applied to perform the safest and least-invasive procedure that will help each person to achieve the highest possible quality of life.

Authored by: Howard L. Weiner, MD | Joseph I. Sirven, MD

Reviewed by: Joseph I. Sirven, MD | Patricia O. Shafer, RN, MN on 8/2013

 

Dietary Therapies

Dietary therapy is another way to help control seizures.  This can be done together with medications, or can be tried alone. 

The ketogenic diet is most often used for children, and is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet.  It is prescribed and monitored by a physician and nutritionist must be carefully followed for true effectiveness.  Normally, if there are no notable results within 3 months, the child will be removed from the diet.  To reach full effectiveness, this diet must be followed usually for over a year.  Another option is the modified Atkins diet, which has some similar components to the traditional ketogenic diet, and is usually used for adults.

 

VNS or Vagus Nerve Stimulator

Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS Therapy®) is designed to prevent seizures by sending regular, mild pulses of electrical energy to the brain via the vagus nerve. These pulses are supplied by a device something like a pacemaker.

  • The VNS device is sometimes referred to as a "pacemaker for the brain." It is placed under the skin on the chest wall and a wire runs from it to the vagus nerve in the neck.
  • The vagus nerve is part of the autonomic nervous system, which controls functions of the body that are not under voluntary control, such as the heart rate. The vagus nerve passes through the neck as it travels between the chest and abdomen and the lower part of the brain.

What is the surgery like?

  • The surgeon first makes an incision along the outer side of the chest on the left side, and the device is implanted under the skin. A second incision is made horizontally in the lower neck, along a crease of skin, and the wire from the stimulator is wound around the vagus nerve in the left side of the neck. The brain itself is not involved in the surgery.
  • The device (also called an implant) is a flat, round battery, about the size of a silver dollar—that is, about an inch and a half (4 cm) across—and 10 to 13 millimeters thick, depending on the model used. Newer models may be somewhat smaller.
  • The procedure usually lasts about 50 to 90 minutes with the patient under general anesthesia. Usually the person can go home later the same day. Sometimes you may need to stay overnight in the hospital for observation.  

How is VNS used?

  • The neurologist (or licensed professional) programs the strength and timing of the impulses according to each patient's needs. The settings can be programmed and changed by placing a wand over the generator on the left side of the chest. The wand is connected to a handheld computer. 
  • For all patients, the device is programmed to go on (give stimulation) for a certain period (for example, 7 seconds or 30 seconds) and then to go off (stop stimulation) for another period (for example, 14 seconds or 5 minutes). The device is set to give stimulation at regular intervals during the day, usually with 30 seconds of stimulation alternating with 5 minutes of no stimulation. The patient is usually not aware that it's operating.
  • Holding a special magnet near the implanted device (generator) triggers the device to deliver another burst of stimulation, outside of the programmed intervals. For people with warnings (auras) before their seizures, activating the stimulator with the magnet when the warning occurs may help to stop the seizure. 
  • Settings (also called stimulation parameters) set by the neurologist typically include a stimulation amplitude of 1.0 to 3.0 mA (milliamperes), a stimulation frequency of 20 - 30 Hz (hertz), and a pulse width of 130 - 500 microseconds. By adjusting these settings, the doctor not only may be able to control more of the patient's seizures, but often can also relieve side effects. One study, for instance, found that changing the pulse width eliminated pain that some patients were experiencing.
  • The battery for the stimulator lasts approximately 5-10 years, depending on the settings used.

Resources

The VNS implant devices are built by Cyberonics, Inc. Additional information for patients and physicians is available at their website (www.cyberonics.com).

Authored by: Steven C. Schachter, MD | Joseph I. Sirven, MD

Reviewed by: Joseph I. Sirven, MD | Patricia O. Shafer, RN, MN on 8/2013

 

What is VNS Therapy?

Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS Therapy®) is a unique treatment developed for people with drug-resistant epilepsy (seizures that don’t respond to seizure medications). VNS Therapy® does not involve brain surgery and it is not a drug. It is a small, implanted device that works with any of your current or future medications, as well as other treatments. Since its introduction in 1997, more than 80,000 people worldwide have chosen VNS Therapy® to help control their seizures.

VNS Therapy® works whether or not you have auras or warning signals. VNS Therapy® is programmed to work automatically, around the clock.

The latest advancement in VNS Therapy®, AspireSR®, also monitors for heart rate increases that may be associated with seizures. When a certain change in heart rate occurs, a burst of stimulation happens automatically.  

What is AspireSR®?

AspireSR® is the first and only VNS Therapy® that provides responsive stimulation to heart rate increases that may be associated with seizures.

Clinical studies of AspireSR® showed that some seizures stopped (i.e., seizure cessation), some were less severe, and after some seizures people recovered more quickly (improved postictal recovery).1

How does AspireSR® work?

Eighty-two percent (82%) of people with epilepsy may have an increase in their heart rate associated with a seizure.2

How AspireSR® works:

  • Can detect rapid heart rate rise. 

  • Can deliver automatic stimulatio.n 

  • Settings can be customized to each person’s specific needs
.
  • Works together with Normal and Magnet Mode settings of VNS Therapy®. This means that stimulation will also occur at preprogrammed times and when a magnet is swiped over the generator in the chest area.

In AspireSR® clinical trials, over 60% of seizures treated (n=46) ended during auto stimulation. For seizures that ended during stimulation (n=28), the closer stimulation was to the beginning of the seizure, the shorter the seizure length.

What is AspireSR® indicated for?

The VNS Therapy® System is indicated for use as an adjunctive therapy — as add on therapy in reducing the frequency of seizures in adults and adolescents over 12 years of age with partial onset seizures that are resistant to anti-epileptic or anti-seizure medications.

It is important to talk to your doctor to find out if VNS Therapy® might be right for you.

What is the safety and tolerability?

AspireSR® has been shown to be safe and tolerable compared to currently available VNS Therapy®.

  • Proven safe and tolerable.
  • No unexpected side effects.
  • Surgery to place or implant the device is well-tolerated.

The AutoStim Mode or heart rate monitor setting is not recommended for people being treated for abnormal heart rhythms or with a history of bradycardia — abnormally slow heart rate or pulse.

What are common side effects of VNS Therapy®?

Side effects following stimulation that occurred more than 5% of the time were dysphonia (hoarse voice), convulsion, headache, oropharyngeal pain (throat pain), depression, dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), dyspnea (difficulty breathing), exertional dyspnea (difficulty breathing with physical effort or exertion), stress, and vomiting.1

References: 

1 http://us.cyberonics.com/vns-therapy
2 Eggleston KS, et al. Seizure. 2014 Aug; 23(7):496-505

Authored by: Joseph I Sirven MD on 6/2015

RNS or Responsive Neurostimulation

What is responsive neurostimulation?

Responsive neurostimulation is a new approach to treating medically uncontrolled partial onset seizures. The RNS® System is the first device to provide responsive neurostimulation, automatically monitoring brain signals and providing stimulation to abnormal electrical events just when it is needed. The system is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as an adjunctive treatment for adults with medically refractory partial seizures that come from one or two seizure targets identified by your doctor.

The RNS Neurostimulator is placed under the scalp and within the skull by a surgeon. One or two leads are then placed at the seizure target and connected to the neurostimulator. After the scalp heals, the neurostimulator should not be noticeable to others. The neurostimulator continuously monitors the brain’s activity and is programmed by the epilepsy doctor to detect and record specific patterns that could lead to a seizure. When these patterns are detected, the neurostimulator responds with brief pulses of stimulation intended to disrupt the abnormal brain activity before a seizure occurs. Detection and stimulation settings are individualized for each patient’s patterns and so that stimulation is not felt. In addition, each patient gets a take-home monitor so that brain activity data can be sent to the epilepsy doctor between office visits.

Who can get this procedure?

The RNS® System is approved as an adjunctive therapy for adults (18 years or older) with partial onset epilepsy whose frequent, disabling seizures have not been controlled by at least two different medications and have one or two seizure onset zones.

How is the surgical procedure performed?

The neurostimulator and leads are placed under general anesthesia by a neurosurgeon trained in the procedure. Generally, the patient will stay in the hospital one or two days and then return to normal activities.

What is the outlook?

Although not a cure for epilepsy, treatment with the RNS® System reduces seizures in most patients. Prospective clinical trials have demonstrated median seizure frequency reductions of 44% at one year, 53% at two years, and seizure reductions ranging from 60 to 66% three to six years post-implant.

Resources

The RNS® System is manufactured by NeuroPace, Inc. Additional information for patients and physicians is available at their website, neuropace.com (http://www.neuropace.com).

Authored by: Joseph I. Sirven MD on 5/2014

Reviewed by: Joseph I. Sirven, MD | Patricia O. Shafer, RN, MN on 5/2014

 

Herbal Therapies

. . . Helpful or Harmful or We Don’t Know?

In past centuries before modern seizure medicines were developed, people with epilepsy and their doctors looked for a remedy in various herbs and combinations of herbs. Occasionally they found one that seemed to help. None of these remedies have been proven to be safe and effective. Unfortunately, some of them can make seizures worse by causing seizures, or by interacting with prescription seizure medications. Even though some herbal medicines are available as dietary supplements, they are not necessarily safe for people with epilepsy, just because they're "natural."

This is not to say that if you have epilepsy you must avoid every herb, down to that little piece of parsley on the side of your plate. There are hundreds of possible herbal remedies, and our knowledge of their effects is far from complete. Testing a potential medication in a controlled way in a large number of people is an expensive venture. Little research of this kind has been done with herbs, but it’s beginning to happen now. For example tests are being done on an ingredient that is related to medical marijuana, and another that comes from a Chinese moss plant.

Why is it hard to use herbs to treat epilepsy?

Even when we do have some information on a particular herb, it can be difficult to apply. The forms, dosages, and combinations in which herbs are sold are not well standardized in the United States. As long as the manufacturer does not claim that the herb will cure or prevent a particular medical condition, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers it a "dietary supplement" and regulates it much less strictly than other medications.

A complicating factor is that people with epilepsy may get undesirable effects from an herb or herbal combination that is safe for most others. It appears that a few herbs (including some common ones) may directly increase the chance of seizures. Many others can interact with seizure medicines, either causing more seizures or worsening side effects. Of course the effect is different depending on what kind of seizures you have and what seizure medicines you take.

If I am thinking about trying an herbal therapy, what can I do to learn more?

If you are thinking of trying an herbal medicine because you don't like your current epilepsy treatment or because you've heard that it might help with some other problem (like depression, sleep, memory loss, or PMS), read on.

  • Educate yourself.
  • When you are trying to figure out whether an herb is right for you, don't rely on claims made by the manufacturer or a company that is trying to sell it to you.
  • Search this site and other reputable sources for unbiased information about the herb, the disorder you want to treat, and all the other medicines you are taking.

Should I get the doctor involved?

Definitely! Take the information that you gather to your doctor. If you're having seizures or unacceptable side effects, tell the doctor how you feel (remember to take your seizure calendar) and ask whether there's some other treatment that is likely to help you. When you say that you've been investigating an herbal medicine, the doctor should be willing to hear you out. Doctors also are trying to get educated about herbal products, so the doctor may or may not have more information about that herb.

  • If your doctor says that it's OK for you to use the herbal product with your regular seizure medicine, go ahead, but don't take more than the recommended dose.
  • If you develop any new side effects, don't ignore them—call the doctor.
  • And NEVER substitute an herbal medicine for your regular seizure medicine. If you do, you may wind up having life-threatening prolonged seizures called status epilepticus.
  • Each time you visit the doctor, be sure to give a complete report on every herb or other over-the-counter medication that you are taking. (The easiest way is to take all the bottles with you.)
  • If you get advice from an herbalist, make sure that you also tell that person about all the prescription and nonprescription medicines that you take. A reputable herbalist will be aware of interactions that may be harmful.

Much of the information in this article is based on Spinella M: Herbal medicines and epilepsy: The potential for benefit and adverse effects. Epilepsy Behav 2001; 2(6):524-532. (PMID 12609386)

Authored by: Steven C. Schachter, MD | Patricia O. Shafer, RN, MN

Reviewed by: Joseph I. Sirven, MD | Patricia O. Shafer, RN, MN on 8/2013

 

Medical Marijuana

What to do about the medical use of marijuana (cannabis) as a potential treatment for a number of neurologic conditions, including epilepsy, is a hotly debated issue. There are legal issues surrounding access to cannabis, as well as a lack of scientific research on the usefulness and safety of marijuana as a treatment for seizures. Additionally, many different substances containing cannabis are being used which makes it difficult to study.

What is medical marijuana or cannabis?

Marijuana is known by many names; the most common is cannabis. This is the Latin name used most often by botanists and pharmaceutical companies. The word marijuana usually refers to the leaves and female flowers of the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids are substances in cannabis that act on cells in the body (called cannabinoid receptors) to cause some effect. Two major ingredients include:

  • Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, causes the psychoactive effects of "getting high."
  • Cannabidiol, or CBD, does not cause psychoactive effects but has shown some positive effects on certain body systems and may potentially affect seizures.

Does cannabis help seizures?

Evidence from laboratory studies, anecdotal reports, and small clinical studies from a number of years ago suggests that cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive compound of cannabis, could potentially be helpful in controlling seizures. However, there are conflicting reports in the literature. So far, scientifically controlled studies have not shown definitive proof of the effectiveness and safety of marijuana or cannabis in epilepsy. For example, in 2012, a literature review of clinical studies on cannabinoids for epilepsy could not give a reliable conclusion about the effectiveness of four randomized controlled trials of cannabidiol. Yet in the 48 people included in these reports, no side effects were noted. Conducting studies can be difficult as researchers have limited access to marijuana due to federal regulations and even more limited access to cannabidiol; there are also increased financial and time constraints. 

Individual reports of children with refractory (or intractable) epilepsy who have tried cannabis, usually with high ratios of cannabidiol to THC, have reported marked improvements in seizure frequency, including a report describing the results of Charlotte, a girl with Dravet syndrome.

Cannabidiol (CBD): Recently, there have been some open-labeled studies in the U.S. of Epidiolex (a drug derived from cannabidiol or CBD), which is produced by a pharmaceutical company (GW Pharmaceuticals). Epidiolex is a purified, 99% oil-based extract of CBD that is produced to give known and consistent amounts in each dose. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given some epilepsy centers permission to use this drug as "compassionate use" for a limited number of people at each center. Such studies are ongoing for difficult epilepsies such as Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (in children and adults) and Dravet syndrome in children.

Results from 213 people who received Epidiolex (99% CBD) in an open label study (without a placebo control) were presented at the American Academy of Neurology, April 22, 2015 in Washington DC. Data from 137 people who completed 12 weeks or more on the drug were used to look at how helpful or effective the drug was. People who received the Epidiolex ranged from 2 to 26 years old with an average age of 11. All had epilepsy that did not respond to currently available treatments - 25 or 18% had Dravet Syndrome (DS) and 22 or 16% had Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome (LGS). 

  • Seizures decreased by an average of 54% in 137 people who completed 12 weeks on Epidiolex. 
  • Patients who had DS responded more positively with a 63% decrease in seizures over 3 months. 
  • This improvement in seizures lasted through 24 weeks on the Epidiolex, more often for people with DS than without DS. 
  • In 27 patients with atonic seizures (which are commonly seen in people with LGS as well as other types of epilepsy), the atonic seizures decreased by 66.7% on average.
  • The responder rate (the number of people whose seizures decreased by at least 50%) was also slightly better in patients with DS (about 55% at 3 months) as compared to patients without DS (50%).
  • People who were also taking the anti-seizure medication Clobazam (Onfi) seemed to respond more favorably to the Epidiolex with a greater improvement in convulsive seizures than in patients who were not taking Clobazam. The authors suggested that an interaction between Clobazam and Epidiolex may play a part in the differences seen. 
  • 14 people withdrew from the study because the drug was not effective for them. 

A controlled study on Epidiolex involving many epilepsy centers is now being done that will compare children with Dravet syndrome or Lennox-Gastaut syndrome taking the active drug with children not receiving the drug.

Does cannabis have side effects?

Marijuana or cannabis in general has a number of effects depending on how it is ingested. For example, if smoked, the risk factors associated with smoking apply to marijuana. Side effects of the preparations used to treat seizures have not been well documented in anecdotal reports as varying doses and strains have been used. Increased appetite and memory problems have been reported.

Cannabidiol (CBD): The open-labeled study discussed above (presented at the Academy of Neurology, April 22, 2015, Washington DC) included safety data from 213 patients at 11 different sites. Epidiolex (99% CBD) was generally well tolerated. Side effects that occurred in 10% or more of people included: sleepiness (21%), diarrhea (17%), fatigue (17%), and decreased appetite (16%). 

  •  10 people (5%) stopped treatment with Epidiolex due to side effects, though 3 of these people restarted it. 
  • Most side effects were described as mild or moderate and went away. 
  • Serious side effects happened in 52 people - 22 of these were possibly related to the drug. The most common serious possible side effect was status epilepticus, when a person has long or repeated seizures. While 2 people died while taking Epidiolex, the deaths were not thought to be related to the drug. 

Some children required a change in seizure medication to lessen sedation or sleepiness. Interactions between Epidiolex and certain seizure medications causing changes in blood levels of seizure medications were found in small numbers of people in an earlier report of this study. 

It is difficult to assess the side effects of Epidiolex (99% CBD) and other safety concerns until larger studies using a control group are done. Other side effects could occur that are simply not known yet to practicing physicians. This and confirming efficacy is why rigorous clinical trials are needed.

What are the laws governing medical marijuana?

A number of states in the U.S. have laws allowing cannabis to be recommended and dispensed to people for medical reasons. However, this does conflict with some federal laws and there are further complications for research on marijuana due to federal restrictions. This can mean physicians who choose to follow the state laws on medical use of marijuana could be breaking a federal law. Some states have acted to include protections for physicians, but they must be aware of both federal and state laws and the potential implications. A clearer understanding of the laws governing this issue is needed.

Should a person with epilepsy pursue medical marijuana if all other medications do not work?

When conventional treatments do not work, as is the case for roughly 30% of people with epilepsy, it is not unreasonable to consider cannabis. This is why some states have approved it for “compassionate access.” However, this should only be considered after a thorough evaluation at a specialized epilepsy center and once conventional treatments (pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic) have been reasonably tried.

The Epilepsy Foundation urges anyone exploring any treatment for their epilepsy, as permitted under their state law, to work with their treating physician to make the best decisions for their own care.

What is the position of the Epilepsy Foundation on Thursday, March 20, 2014

By Philip M. Gattone, President  & CEO, Epilepsy Foundation, and
Warren Lammert, Chair, Epilepsy Foundation Board of Directors

With Commentary from Orrin Devinsky, M.D., Professor of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, Director, NYU Comprehensive Epilepsy Center Member of Epilepsy Foundation National Board of Directors

As parents and as advocates, we feel an urgency to respond and take action on an issue that has been brought to the Epilepsy Foundation from individuals we serve across the country-- the use of marijuana to treat epilepsy. We write this with advice and support from Nathan Fountain, Chairman of our Professional Advisory Board, and with advice and support from a range of other leading epilepsy professionals and board members.

2.3 million Americans live with epilepsy, a neurological condition that includes recurring seizures. More than 1 million of them live with uncontrolled seizures. Some of these people may be helped by surgery or other non-drug treatments, but for many, no answers have been found yet. People with uncontrolled seizures live with the continual risk of serious injuries and loss of life.

The Epilepsy Foundation supports the rights of patients and families living with seizures and epilepsy to access physician directed care, including medical marijuana. Nothing should stand in the way of patients gaining access to potentially life-saving treatment. If a patient and their healthcare professionals feel that the potential benefits of medical marijuana for uncontrolled epilepsy outweigh the risks, then families need to have that legal option now -- not in five years or ten years. For people living with severe uncontrolled epilepsy, time is not on their side. This is a very important, difficult, and personal decision that should be made by a patient and family working with their healthcare team.

Treatments for epilepsy with any form of marijuana come with risks, as there is much that is not known about its effects. The consistency of available formulations also needs to be addressed. Caution is appropriate, and we strongly recommend that patients with uncontrolled seizures seek out an epilepsy specialist. However, existing therapies have real side-effects both known and unknown, and, just as there are risks with any treatment, every day without seizure control is a risk to life. Every seizure is a possible opportunity lost to live, learn, and grow.

The Epilepsy Foundation calls for an end to Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) restrictions that limit clinical trials and research into medical marijuana for epilepsy. We applaud recent decisions that have allowed clinical trials of Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, to begin in several states. Certain components of medical marijuana, including CBD, have shown effectiveness in animal studies, and there have been encouraging anecdotal reports from patients. But further research and unbiased clinical trials are needed to establish whether and in what forms medical marijuana is or is not effective and safe. Restrictions on the use of medical marijuana continue to stand in the way of this research.

The Epilepsy Foundation believes that an end to seizures should not be determined by one’s zip code. Our current situation as an epilepsy community is not acceptable. Families looking to access medical marijuana as a treatment are facing terrible decisions. One parent may move across the country to live with a child to seek this treatment. Other families may uproot entirely, including leaving their job, to move where they can access CBD oil. In the past, when therapies not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) were available abroad and left only to those who could afford to travel, we fought for compassionate access. We are here to continue the fight.

The Epilepsy Foundation will be doing the following to support improved access and research into medical marijuana:

  1. Calling on the Drug Enforcement Administration to implement a lesser schedule for marijuana so that it can be more easily accessible for medical research.
  2. Supporting appropriate changes to state laws to increase access to medical marijuana as a treatment option for epilepsy, including pediatric use as supported by a treating physician.
  3. Supporting the inclusion of epilepsy as a condition that uses medical marijuana as a treatment option where it is currently available.
  4. Supporting research on multiple forms of cannabis and seizures.

What can you do to help? Advocate for increased access and for the freedom to conduct medical research on a potentially effective treatment against seizures and epilepsy. Join with us at http://capwiz.com/efa/mlm/signup.

Here’s Our Story:

As the President & CEO and as the Chair of the Board of the Epilepsy Foundation, we are privileged to lead a nationwide network of caring volunteers and staff who work tirelessly to improve lives of individuals living with epilepsy.

We are also fathers of individuals living with epilepsy. Phil’s son has had thousands of seizures in his life and has endured two brain surgeries to stop his seizures. Warren’s daughter has a genetic form of epilepsy that is marked by severe seizures and, despite an implanted medical device and three different epilepsy medicines, endures daily waves of seizures.

Some individuals, specifically families of children with uncontrolled seizures, are using what is called cannabidiol oil, or CBD oil, and anecdotally a few are seeing remarkable results. This is truly spectacular -- anytime someone finds a treatment that stops seizures, there is cause for celebration because seizure freedom for one person means hope of seizure freedom for others.

There is still a lot we don’t know about the medical use of marijuana for epilepsy. Until clinical trials are completed, doctors and patients will not know whether medical marijuana or CBD will on balance harm someone or help someone with epilepsy. We are advocating for the rights of patients and families to determine with their doctor if this is an appropriate therapy for them, but we recognize the unknowns and the difficulty of this decision for an individual patient.

There is an obvious and urgent need for research. The Epilepsy Foundation is proud that we are currently funding an important research study to learn more about the effect of a form of cannabis on individuals living with uncontrolled epilepsy.

As fathers, we know the pain of watching our children experience uncontrolled seizures.

We know how epilepsy impacts development in children for whom no available current treatment has been successful.

We know about the dangers that can occur when families are forced to leave medical systems and physicians they know to move to other states.

We know seizures not only affect the individual enduring seizures, it also impacts siblings, parents, grandparents, kids and grandchildren, other loved ones and friends.

We know the difference between having recurring seizures and not having seizures can mean the difference between life and death.

Warren’s daughter is fortunate to be enrolled in a clinical trial of CBD. We do not know if this will help Sylvie but know the cost of her unrelenting seizures. Weighing the issue with her doctor, we decided the potential benefits outweigh the risks. Other parents and other individuals living with potentially devastating seizures should have the same opportunity to make that determination.

If an epilepsy patient and their doctor feel that marijuana is their best treatment option then they need to have safe, legal access to medical marijuana and they need that access now.

Source:  Epilepsy Foundation of America

Please connect with Epilepsy Foundation of Southeast Tennessee if you have any questions at all.