Epilepsy has been in the news a lot lately relating to the effectiveness of cannabis in treating people who have drug resistant epilepsy. The case of Alfie Dingley is the famous one where his parents had to obtain treatment from abroad prior to the U.K. government’s change of heart in November 2018 where prescriptions of cannabis for drug Resistant epilepsy became legal in the UK, but only under the jurisdiction or management of specialists. GPs are not legally allowed to prescribe the stronger forms of cannabis that contain THC but may do so if instructed to by a neurologist or clinical specialist on the GMC Register.
With respect to the particular scenario of cannabis prescriptions, the N I C E guidelines have only just been reviewed and have stated that due to the high cost of cannabis at the moment, it cannot be recommended on the NHS. This is very sad news indeed and confines those patients who are receiving help from abroad, to a permanent refugee status, in order to stay well. This is particularly difficult in the case of young children.
However, we have to remember that there are also potentially other options for epilepsy, apart from the routine medications that have always been utilised in medicine.
The underlying mechanisms of epilepsy relate to many things but the concept of neuro inflammation needs to be remembered. This is where the immune system becomes disordered in the brain. Therefore, it is always worthwhile trying to optimise biological systems, a subject which has been mentioned many other times before in my writing. This always seeks to optimise the function of the digestive system and the immune system that lies around it, to treat infections that may underlie some of these conditions, to optimise detoxification processes, improve mitochondrial function and minimise exposure to toxic load from our environment. The latter includes EMF.
It is very important to remember with epilepsy that referral to a competent neurologist, specialising in epilepsy, is paramount, so that he formal diagnosis can be made.
Because of the implications on lifestyle, jobs, driving and other aspects of well-being, it is important to try and use medication early on to control fits. However a deep search for underlying mechanisms should also take place with a functional medical approach.