If you’re using Keppra (Levetiracetam) for epilepsy and are looking to get off of it, hemp-derived CBD is probably one of the solutions you’ve explored as an alternative.
But can CBD really do the same things as clinically-proven antiseizure medications?
In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of CBD for epilepsy and seizures, how it compares to Keppra, and how to use it.
You won’t find weak, ineffective, or dangerous products here. Only high-strength, American-made CBD products that have been 3rd-party lab tested. You deserve better.
What is Keppra?
Levetiracetam (brand name: Keppra) is a prescription drug used to treat seizures. Keppra is a type of drug known as an anticonvulsant, meaning it’s designed to decrease the number of seizures you have.
Although Keppra’s exact mechanism of action is unknown, scientists know that it works by stabilizing electrical activity in the brain, which then helps to prevent seizures.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a cannabinoid that naturally occurs in the hemp plant. CBD is one of more than 100 cannabinoids naturally found in hemp, and it’s one of the most abundant.
CBD is well-known for its variety of benefits for things like pain, sleep, and anxiety. However, research also suggests it may also have benefits for epilepsy.
Can CBD Help With Epilepsy & Seizures?
In this section, we’ll explore the scientific and anecdotal evidence that suggests CBD may help with seizures.
There are a variety of studies indicating that CBD may help with epilepsy and seizures, and it’s even FDA-approved as a seizure treatment in the form of the prescription Epidiolex.
Epidiolex is a prescription form of CBD isolate (which is CBD with no THC or any other cannabinoids) used to treat specific types of seizures.
The Efficacy of Epidiolex (CBD) for Seizures
One clinical trial tested the efficacy of Epidiolex to treat Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome (LDS), a severe form of epilepsy most commonly occurring in children that may cause permanent disabilities and brain damage.
The participants who took Epidiolex experienced half as many seizures as those who took a placebo drug.
Another Epidiolex clinical trial looked at its efficacy for seizures caused by tuberous sclerosis complex, a rare genetic disorder that causes tumors to grow in the brain, heart, kidneys, and on the skin. Tumors in the brain may lead to seizures.
Patients who received Epidiolex enjoyed twice as much improvement in their condition as those who did not.
There are other available clinical trials examining Epidiolex as well (for conditions such as Dravet syndrome, etc.).
Of course, Epidiolex is a prescription drug that’s held to far more rigid production and testing standards than regular CBD products. Still, the fact that Epidiolex is so effective at addressing seizures means that regular CBD may provide a promising therapeutic agent for epilepsy.
You might also ask – if CBD is such a good option, why not just take Epidiolex instead of Keppra? Why bother with regular CBD products?
The problem is that Epidiolex is only approved by doctors for very specific types of seizures, so depending on the type of epilepsy you’re dealing with, you may not be able to get a prescription. This is where CBD gummies, oils, and other products can help.
The Efficacy of Regular CBD Products for Seizures
In addition to the clinical evidence on Epidiolex, there is research showing the efficacy of standard CBD products (here referred to as “artisanal” CBD products) for epilepsy and related issues.
In an evaluation conducted by researchers from Johns Hopkins University, epilepsy patients who took artisanal CBD products reported a 21% increase in psychological health satisfaction, a 17% decrease in depression, and a 19% decrease in anxiety over the course of four years.
Studies done on rats and mice suggest CBD’s anti-seizure properties may come from the fact that it reduces neuron excitability by acting on the GPR55 and TRPV1 receptor groups.
TRPV1 is a channel in your body that, when activated, may contribute to seizures — CBD may inhibit the activation of TRPV1, thereby blocking seizure activity.
GPR55 is a similar channel that, when inhibited by CBD, may result in reduced seizure activity.
Though more clinical research on artisanal CBD products is needed, it’s clear from this survey that CBD has the potential to reduce seizures and make living with epilepsy an order of magnitude easier.
Anecdotal Evidence on CBD for Epilepsy
In addition to the scientific research showcasing CBD’s benefits for epilepsy, we’ve heard many testimonials from our customers that CBD helped them get off Keppra and other seizure medications.
Many people have found success tapering off Keppra and increasing their CBD intake, with some reporting that they’ve been seizure-free (while also being Keppra-free) for many years since making the switch.
Along with the study by Johns Hopkins University, this anecdotal evidence shows that CBD may render a particularly valuable benefit: promoting long-term health.
Many seizure medications work in the short term, but come with so many downsides that they aren’t a healthy option over the period of many years.
How CBD Works In Your Body
CBD promotes wellness by working with your endocannabinoid system (ECS), a receptor system in your body that regulates your vital functions. The ECS works to keep your body in a state of mental and physical homeostasis, or balance.
Although CBD doesn’t interact heavily with either the CB1 or CB2 receptors, which are the main types of receptors within your ECS, it may interact with secondary receptors in your body, such as TRPV1 and GPR55, thereby having a direct influence on seizure frequency.
CBD also works to generally support your ECS by preventing your endocannabinoids (internal cannabinoids) from breaking down.
This helps your ECS keep your mind and body balanced – including the various systems in your body that contribute to or reduce seizure activity.
Side Effects of CBD
Though CBD has a variety of beneficial effects, it may cause a few adverse effects:
- Dry mouth
- Reduced appetite
CBD and Keppra Compared: Is CBD a Replacement?
In this section, we’re going to give you a side-by-side comparison of CBD and Keppra.
When it comes to the amount of clinical research backing its efficacy as a seizure treatment, Keppra wins. There is extensive research showing levetiracetam may reduce seizures, and it’s been FDA-approved as an epilepsy treatment for decades.
CBD, on the other hand, has very little clinical research backing its efficacy for seizures — at least, for regular CBD products.
Although Epidiolex is clinically proven to be effective for many specific types of seizures, it’s important to remember that it’s regulated far more heavily than artisanal CBD (like we sell).
This underscores the importance of buying potent, pure CBD products in order to get good results.
CBD is a better choice than Keppra in terms of potential negative side effects.
While CBD has just 5 typical side effects (see above), Keppra has more than 30 potential negative effects, including anxiety, headache, joint pain, depression, and more.
The number and severity of Keppra’s side effects is the main reason why people want to get off of it.
Availability and Legality
CBD is federally legal as of the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp-derived cannabinoids on the federal level. CBD may be restricted in some states, but within these boundaries, anyone who wants CBD can buy it online or at a CBD store.
Keppra, on the other hand, is a prescription drug and is not available over the counter.
Note that CBD’s availability doesn’t mean that it’s inherently a good option for you – we recommend speaking to your doctor before beginning CBD use for seizures, especially if you’re already on Keppra.
How to Take CBD for Epilepsy: Best Products
There are a handful of different ways you can take CBD. In this section, we’ll discuss the main delivery methods and the upsides and downsides of each.
- Oils/tinctures – Oils (also called tinctures) provide a potent CBD delivery method, as they are taken under the tongue and absorbed into the blood vessels in your mouth. Also as a result of this sublingual absorption method, CBD oils begin working in just 10-15 minutes. For therapeutic purposes, especially epilepsy, we recommend CBD oil over other products because it allows you to measure your dose down to the drop.
- Edibles – The most common type of CBD edibles are gummies. Edible CBD delivery is convenient for routine-building, as each piece will contain the same amount of CBD. You can also easily divide your edible with a knife to take smaller doses of CBD throughout the day if that’s what works best for you. Because edibles have to be digested, they take about 1 hour to begin working.
- Capsules – Capsules are similar to edibles, except they’re swallowed. They also cannot be easily split, so they’re not the best option if you need smaller doses of CBD. Like edibles, capsules take about 1 hour to start working.
- Inhalable consumption — Inhalable CBD, in the form of vapes and flower, is the most potent delivery method. Inhalables deliver CBD straight to your lungs, so you’ll begin feeling an effect in 5-10 minutes. Of course, there is a downside to inhalable consumption in terms of the risks that smoke and vapor pose to your lungs and the rest of your body.
CBD Dosage for Epilepsy
We often provide specific starting CBD dosage recommendations for different purposes, but for epilepsy, we recommend speaking to your doctor before beginning to use CBD — they’ll help you determine if you should take it, and how much you should be taking.
However, your dosage will likely be somewhere around medium strength. Use this formula to get a rough idea:
(0.3) x (your body weight in lbs.) = your daily dosage of CBD for epilepsy in mg.
Can CBD Be Taken With Keppra?
The CBD-Keppra combination is a mixed bag – there are adverse and beneficial drug interactions.
On the one hand, you should not use the two substances together, as CBD may affect how Keppra is metabolized, thereby increasing its concentration in your body.
This increase in concentration can result in heightened side effects, such as drowsiness, dizziness, and confusion.
However, research from Johns Hopkins also suggests that CBD may reduce many of the side effects of anti-seizure prescriptions.
As there are upsides and downsides to using CBD and Keppra at the same time, we recommend you speak to your doctor, who will be able to determine what is right for you.
Conclusion: A Natural Alternative to Keppra?
Hemp-derived CBD may very well provide the same benefits as Keppra without as many side effects.
The fact that CBD is FDA-approved as a seizure treatment in the form of Epidiolex supports its potential benefits.
However, more research on the efficacy of artisanal CBD is needed before scientists and patients alike can be sure that the CBD you buy at a CBD store can do the same things as Epidiolex.
But one thing is for sure: the CBD you buy needs to be high quality in order to render benefits.
CBD vs. Keppra: Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some questions customers frequently ask us about CBD vs. Keppra.
Is CBD safe with Keppra?
Although CBD may increase the concentration of Keppra in your body, thereby increasing side effects such as drowsiness and dizziness, it may also reduce some side effects of seizure meds, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Does CBD interact with seizure meds?
CBD may affect the way seizure medications such as Keppra are metabolized by your body, thereby increasing their concentration within your body and leading to increased feelings of drowsiness and dizziness.
How often should you take CBD for seizures?
CBD is generally most effective for epilepsy and seizures when taken daily. You may also find that your daily CBD dosage works better when split up and taken throughout the day.