Seizures

Seizures are thought to be the result of the overstimulation of neurons within the brain. While no symptoms may be evident, severe seizures may involve severe shaking and loss of control.

Learn more about symptoms

Symptom definition

Seizures are thought to be the result of the overstimulation of neurons within the brain. While no symptoms may be evident, severe seizures may involve severe shaking and loss of control.

Seizures may be classified as either focal onset or generalised onset. Those in the first group begin in one area of the brain and then spread, depending on the pattern of electrical discharges. The awareness of such seizures will vary, with the most severe causing the loss of movement, speech, or hearing. 

Generalised onset seizures might also begin in a particular area of the brain and then spread to both sides. In other instances, the electrical charges may be instantaneously spread throughout the brain. The symptoms of these seizures will fall under such classifications as tonic, clonic, myoclonic, absence, and atonic.

What might my symptoms be?

  • Dizziness
  • Sudden fear or anxiousness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Stiffening of limbs
  • Repetitive jerking movements
  • Rapid eye movements

If seizures remain untreated then they are likely to worsen and be longer-lasting. They could eventually lead to a coma, or death.

Standard Treatment

It is essential for doctors to gain an accurate medical diagnosis so they can prescribe the correct course of treatment. Commonly prescribed anti-seizure drugs include Carbamazepine, Sodium Valproate, and Lamotrigine. Diet therapy, nerve stimulation, or surgery may also be deemed appropriate, depending on the type and severity of seizures.

How medical cannabis could help

Medical cannabis shouldn’t be prescribed for the treatment of all seizures. However, seizure activity may be reduced as a result of taking oils, vapes, and capsules rich in CBD. In some instances, a small ratio of THC may be prescribed.

Medical cannabis can be used for the regulation of the quantity of endocannabinoids within the brain. This regulation allows for the generation of suitable levels of glutamate, limiting the risk of seizures.

Other beneficial impacts may include:

  • The changing of calcium levels affecting signals between brain cells
  • Reduction of inflammation

FAQs about Medical Cannabis

FAQs about Medical Cannabis FAQs about Medical Cannabis
Is medical cannabis legal in the UK?

Yes. Cannabis-based medicinal products (CBMPs) have been legal since the 1st of November 2018, when they moved from a Schedule 1 product to a Schedule 2 product. This reflects their potential for medical use.

Who is allowed to prescribe medical cannabis in the UK?

Cannabis-based medicinal products, also known as CBMPs, can be prescribed by private consultants, when appropriate, within their specialty area when there is unmet clinical need.

In the UK cannabis medicines are accessed primarily via private clinics. However, any specialist physician can prescribe cannabis medicines. GROW® is here to provide education and support to any specialists looking to prescribe or just to find out more.

Is medical cannabis available on the NHS?

There are 3 licensed medicines which contain cannabinoids – Epidiolex for some forms of epilepsy, Sativex for multiple sclerosis (MS), and Nabilone for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV). However, only a handful of prescriptions have been issued in the NHS to date.

Most cannabis-based medicinal products (CBMPs) are instead unlicensed, and they must be written on a private prescription, typically issued by private clinics specialising in medical cannabis treatment.

What cannabis medicines are available?

Cannabis medicines come in multiple forms; flowers, often referred to as herbal cannabis (to be vaporised, rather than smoked), oils (taken under the tongue) and capsules. Cannabis medicines come in high-THC, high-CBD and balanced varieties.

Smoking medical cannabis is illegal. Medical cannabis can instead be taken in different forms depending on the desired speed of onset and duration of action, which is discussed between the patient and their doctor.

Which clinic should I use?

It’s important to find a clinic that works for you. Most importantly you need to find a Doctor that specialises in your condition. For example, patients with pain will need to see pain specialist, while those with a mental health condition must see a psychiatrist.

Which pharmacies can I use?

It’s important for patients to know they can use any pharmacy that supplies the appropriate medicines in the UK.

Some clinics have a preferred pharmacy but will be able to send prescriptions to others if needed. If patients have any questions about available medicines, they can contact IPS Pharma.

What should I do before my consultation?

To speed up the process, patients should bring a copy of their medical records. These are then forwarded to the clinic in advance of the first consultation.

Is medical cannabis the same as over-the-counter CBD?

No. Cannabis-based medicinal products (CBMPs) are only prescribed by GMC-registered specialist doctors. As they are medicinal, CBMPs are regulated by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA); which ensures the safety, quality, and effectiveness of medicines in the UK.

Over-the-counter (OTC) CBD products can be purchased without a prescription in pharmacies, health food shops, or online. These may come in forms such as oil tinctures, capsules, or vapes. They are not medicinal products as they are regulated by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) as a food supplement, with a 0.3% limit on THC.

What if I don’t get a prescription?

Patients are free to seek a second opinion from another clinic. Patients should ensure the clinic has communicated their reasons for deciding not to prescribe. It may be that they feel you should try other medicines before trying cannabis medicines, or that they need to see more information about your medical history before they are happy to prescribe.

How can I learn more about medical cannabis?

For patient enquiries - [email protected]

For doctor enquiries - [email protected]

For all other enquiries – [email protected]

Healthcare professionals can also sign up to our Doctor Portal.

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