CBD Oil For Seizures- Does It Really Work? -
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CBD Oil For Seizures- Does It Really Work?

In the 24 hours after he took his first dose of Real Scientific Hemp Oil, Bug had 14 seizures. The next day, he had almost 30. On the morning of the third day, he bounded down the stairs to his parents’ bedroom, and just as he opened the door, his smile turned into a scream. Maughan jumped out of bed, and Bug’s body fell toward the bathroom, his shoulder hitting the sink and his head landing on the brown bath mat. “I was holding him, crying, when I realized it might not ever get any better for him,” she said. “I might be forever spending my days cuddling him while he’s turning blue, wondering how long it will take before I can check him for injuries. I told my husband, ‘Cannabis is never going to work for him.’”

Her husband, who is also named Glenn, did his best to stay positive. “You don’t know that,” he said. “This is just one product.” Now that 38 states have legalized some form of cannabis, many people assume the plant’s therapeutic uses are being carefully regulated, dosed, and studied. This is not the case. Marijuana is still illegal everywhere under federal law, which prevents the agencies that would traditionally provide oversight from getting involved. Consumers have no way to know for sure what they are actually buying.

Real Scientific Hemp Oil is just one of a whole array of salves, tinctures, and capsules that have emerged recently to cater to the growing demand for a compound found in cannabis called cannabidiol, or CBD. Unlike THC, the more famous active ingredient in pot, CBD does not provide a euphoric high: It is entirely nonpsychoactive. Many doctors believe CBD has enormous potential when it comes to ailments that involve involuntary movements like seizures and spasms, though there is no peer-reviewed research to support that claim yet. However, marijuana dispensaries and companies like Medical Marijuana Inc. will direct people to studies about cannabis, mostly done abroad. This research implies CBD is a kind of cure-all, useful for ailments ranging from AIDS to acne, from cancer to carsickness.

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Medical Marijuana Inc.’s Real Scientific Hemp Oil. Laura Buckman for BuzzFeed News

All those studies involve CBD found in marijuana; Medical Marijuana Inc. sells CBD products made out of industrial hemp. Although hemp grown abroad is legal to use in products that don’t get you high, not everyone believes the fibrous plant best known for rope and bohemian jewelry can provide the same medicinal benefits as weed. In recent years, some marijuana activists and financial analysts have accused Medical Marijuana Inc. and other publicly traded hemp CBD companies of selling snake oil to the sick and hype to naive investors. And yet some parents have said that CBD products made from industrial hemp have done immeasurable good for their kids’ seizures, and some patients with other illnesses have said they get relief from taking things like Real Scientific Hemp Oil. The problem is there’s no way for someone like Annette Maughan to know whether CBD itself can’t help her son, or whether there was hardly any CBD in a product to begin with.

The medical potential of CBD wasn’t widely known until CNN aired Sanjay Gupta’s August 2013 documentary Weed. The documentary featured a little girl in Colorado whose debilitating 300 weekly seizures stopped almost entirely after she began taking a tincture made from a marijuana strain high in CBD and low in THC. It was an incredible thing for people to see: a patient convulsing, and then, after consuming some marijuana, suddenly not.

Doctor using digital tablet in hospital

n a country that has long been skeptical of the concept of medical marijuana, CBD seems like the holy grail: pot that doesn’t get you stoned and is purely therapeutic. In the past two years, parents of children with intractable seizures have become tenacious advocates for medical marijuana in conservative states that never would have considered legalizing the drug five years ago. The political appeal of sick children and a nonpsychoactive compound has led to new laws in 15 states, countless starry-eyed media stories, and vocal support from the most unlikely of places. After Senator Rand Paul expressed his support for children with seizures using medical marijuana at the most recent Republican presidential debate, even Governor Chris Christie — who has vowed to eliminate the recreational marijuana market in Colorado if elected — said he agreed.

BuzzFeed News spoke with over a dozen parents of children with intractable seizures from states all across the country. They’ve quit their jobs, spent months waiting for doctor’s appointments, moved across the country for better treatment, signed documents affirming that they understood their child might die from taking a certain medication, had despondent, late-night conversations about giving up custody, and sat at a hospital bedside while their child was deliberately put into a coma, in the hopes that it might end a state of constant seizures, called status epileptics.

After seeing the CNN documentary, many of these parents began wondering if cannabis could help their kids. Within days of its airing, thousands of parents of children with seizures and adults who suffer from muscle spasms or epilepsy were scouring the internet, looking for more information and places to buy CBD. They were met by ads for Real Scientific Hemp Oil and other Medical Marijuana Inc. products. Further clicks revealed the oil featured in Gupta’s documentary, made from a marijuana strain called Charlotte’s Web, could only be obtained by residents of Colorado, and that the waiting list was well on its way to what would eventually become over 8,000 patients. On the other hand, Real Scientific Hemp Oil, which Maughan got for Bug, could reach any mailbox in the country in four to six weeks.

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Using industrial hemp grown abroad instead of pot to make their CBD products allows companies like Medical Marijuana Inc. to exist at the intersection of a few legal loopholes. While marijuana companies cannot legally move their products across state lines, keep their money in a bank account, or sell stock, hemp companies can. Shares of Medical Marijuana Inc., as well as a few other hemp CBD companies, are traded on the penny stock market, a high-risk place where companies are not vetted by regulators as thoroughly as they would be on a bigger market like the Nasdaq or the New York Stock Exchange.

But just like marijuana products, hemp CBD products are not subject to Food and Drug Administration approval or testing, so parents are left to figure out on their own which products are worthless and which could change their child’s life. And the only firms shipping what they need to all 50 states are unregulated companies like Medical Marijuana Inc.

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