Epilepsy Treatment in Australia
Research has shown that cannabidiol has been used for treatment-resistant seizures in patients with severe early-onset epilepsy. (1)
The TGA, via the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC), has created guidance documents for medical cannabis treatment relating to certain medical conditions. To do this, the NDARC did their own reviews and created recommendations based on their findings. Here’s what the current research says about CBD as well as the TGA guidance (if any):
The goal of epilepsy treatment is to get rid of or at least greatly reduce seizures without producing undesirable drug side effects. It may take several weeks, months or even longer to achieve seizure control. During this time it is important to keep a record of the number of seizures and any adverse effects experienced so that the doctor can adjust the dose or try another drug.
Across the globe, adults and children with epilepsy are turning to cannabis, CBD specifically, for relief from seizures that otherwise were considered untreatable. Trials on CBD and seizures continue to advance what we know about CBD’s impact on epilepsy and seizures.
Medications called anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) help about 7 out of 10 people with epilepsy. These are medicines that work by changing the levels of chemicals in the brain and can prevent seizures from happening. Seizures are episodes of changed electrical activity in the brain and can vary a lot – some involve loss of consciousness or unusual jerking movements. They can be generalised (affecting the whole body) or focal.
There are many different types of medications used to treat seizures. Your doctor will prescribe the one that is right for you. It is important to take your medication as prescribed and to attend regular medical appointments. Taking your medication at the same time each day and with water can help you remember and will avoid problems like heartburn and indigestion.
Other treatments for epilepsy include diets, acupuncture and deep brain stimulation (DBS). A ketogenic diet has been developed specifically for controlling seizures in children. A DBS is a pacemaker-like device that sends pulses into the brain to help control seizures.
Online healthcare professionals can provide advice for epilepsy treatment in Australia. The treatment of epilepsy requires a deep understanding of the individual patient before prescribing an epilepsy treatment. Hemp oil epilepsy treatment has shown to have provided patients with some relief from anxiety symptoms.
Epilepsy Treatment First Aid
The person having the seizure may not know how to respond, and they could hurt themselves during or after a convulsion. The best way to help them is to stay with them until the seizure stops naturally. Be friendly and reassuring, and make sure they are safe when they wake up. If they have fallen, check for serious injuries that you can’t see.
Clear the area of any hard or sharp objects they might hit or injure themselves on. Turn them gently on their side, and put something flat like a jacket under their head to support their head.
People having seizures often choke on foreign objects, so it’s important to remove anything they might come into contact with. You should also not put anything in their mouth, including water or pills, as they can bite or swallow their tongue during a seizure. This can injure their teeth and jaw.
If this isn’t the person’s first seizure, or if it lasts longer than a few minutes, you should call an ambulance. It’s also a good idea to take a photo of their face and body, so they can be recognised by emergency services.
People with epilepsy often wear a bracelet or carry a card to let medical professionals know they have epilepsy. They should also be referred to a doctor who specialises in brain and nervous system conditions, called a neurologist. They can provide advice and prescribe medicines to control seizures.
Should you be concerned and not sure whether to call an ambulance you can call an online healthcare professional who will advise on the most appropriate first aid treatment for epilepsy.
What Are The Causes Of Epilepsy?
In about half of all cases of epilepsy, there’s no known cause. But it can be caused by things like head injuries, dementia, brain tumours and some blood vessel problems. It can also be the result of certain genetic conditions, such as Mesial temporal sclerosis (a scar that forms in part of the brain near the ear).
Seizures are sudden bursts of electrical energy that disrupt the rhythmic electrical impulses that pass between cells in different parts of your brain. This causes changes in awareness (including loss of consciousness), sensations and muscle movements. They can vary in length and severity. Your healthcare provider will classify your seizures based on where the electricity starts, how long you are aware of them and whether or not you have muscle movement.
If you have a seizure, your doctor will examine you and ask about your medical history. They may recommend a test called an electroencephalogram (EEG) to check the electrical patterns in your brain. They might also do a brain scan to look for things like a brain tumour or abnormal blood vessels.
Keeping a diary of your seizures can help you and your healthcare provider identify triggers. This is especially helpful if you have breakthrough seizures (sudden, uncontrolled seizures in people who have been taking their medications properly). This can help you and your healthcare provider decide if you need to change your medicine or get surgery. The most common triggers are fever, sleep deprivation and missing a dose of your medication.
If you are concerned about your seizures you can seek a second opinion with online healthcare professionals who can suggest epilepsy treatment guidelines and the latest proven epilepsy treatment.
Contact one of CannaTelehealth an online medicinal cannabis clinic for potential alternative hemp oil epilepsy treatments.
Frequently Asked Questions
Common Epilepsy Medication in Australia
The most common epilepsy medication in Australia is anti epileptic drugs (also called anti-seizure medicines). The correct dose of the right drug, or combination of drugs, controls seizures in over 75% of people with epilepsy. It is important that you take your medicine as prescribed by your doctor and don’t stop or change the dosage without talking to your doctor. (2)
You should avoid activities that could cause a seizure, such as swimming alone, extreme sports and operating machinery until you’ve had your seizures under control. Your doctor may also recommend you get your school to become a ‘seizure certified’ school so that it knows what to do if someone has a seizure on campus.
If you’re having a lot of seizures and your medicines aren’t working, it may be worthwhile looking at other options. For some children, a strict, medically-supervised diet called the ketogenic diet can help control their seizures. Your doctor or a paediatric neurology specialist can advise you whether this is an option for your child.
For some people with severe epilepsy that doesn’t respond to medicines, surgery to remove the area of their brain causing seizures can be an option. This is usually recommended for focal seizures that always happen in the same place and can’t be treated with medicines. In some cases, doctors can recommend vagus nerve stimulation, which involves placing a small device in the chest that sends weak electrical signals to the brain through the vagus nerve.
It is always best to ask your online healthcare professional on the best treatment of epilepsy. In addition your family should also be knowledgeable in first aid treatment for epilepsy.
CannaTelehealth online consultancy can provide epilepsy treatment guidelines and options.
Support Services For Epilepsy in Australia
People with epilepsy can access a range of support services for themselves, their families and friends. Support services include education, advocacy and practical assistance. People can find out more by contacting their local Epilepsy Foundation or other state/territory based epilepsy service organisation. (4) https://epilepsyqueensland.com.au/
Seizures are caused by disruptions to the brain’s electrical activity. They can last from a few seconds to several minutes. They can be scary and disorienting.
Epilepsy Australia’s National Nurse Helpline provides telephone and online telehealth services for all people with epilepsy in Australia. The Helpline is staffed by trained epilepsy nurses and supported by a research team. (5)
Researcher field notes are used to guide semi structured interviews (or, where preferable, focus groups) with EN participants using interview schedules, with iterative thematic data analysis.27 In addition, de-identified phone calls from the Helpline will be analysed to generate rich datasets.
The Epilepsy Smart Schools (6) program provides training to teachers and school staff. This enables them to understand the impact of a student’s seizures and medications on their learning, as well as helping to ensure students with epilepsy are supported at school through reasonable adjustments, the Disability Employment Act and a clear understanding of what to do in an emergency situation.
Latest Treatment For Epilepsy
One in 26 people will develop epilepsy in their lifetime and up to 70% of them can achieve seizure control with anti-seizure medication. But it can take years of trial and error for many to find the right medication. And for the 30% to 40% of people who have what is known as drug-resistant or medically refractory epilepsy, there aren’t as many options available.
A neurologist who specialises in the diagnosis and treatment of epilepsy Dr Nina Lims, has claimed that there are exciting new developments that are happening. For example, minimally invasive epilepsy brain surgery has become very effective in patients who have certain types of epilepsy. This involves inserting a probe into the skull and using it to burn away the area of the brain that is causing seizures.
We also have new medications that can be used to treat refractory epilepsy such as sodium selenate, which is a daily pill that works by blocking certain metabolic processes in the brain. It was originally developed to treat cancer, but has shown promise in treating drug-resistant epilepsy. It’s been given a $3 million Medical Research Future Fund grant to help start the first clinical trial in Australia.
Another option is a form of immunotherapy which uses medications to target the inflammatory processes that are thought to contribute to some types of epilepsy. And there are a variety of other complementary therapies, from acupuncture to medicinal cannabis, vitamins and supplements, that some people use to help manage their seizures. But before trying any of these, it’s important to speak with your GP through an online consultancy who can refer to a specialist neurologist who will discuss the latest in epilepsy treatments in Australia.
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Online consultations are virtual appointments with qualified healthcare professionals who can provide advice, treatment choices and medication when necessary. We aim to offer personalised care and support to our patients in the comfort of their own homes.
Virtual Medical Cannabis Doctors- Online Treatment and Consultation Services
Remote patient access to healthcare is becoming a reality for a large number of patients across Australia. For people with a diagnosis of a chronic condition, it can be difficult to get the proper care they need due to the inability to find time for an appointment or the distance between their homes and the clinic.
Online consultations allow these patients to meet with a doctor from the comfort of their own home and receive guidance on what type of medicine is appropriate for them. The doctor, if eligible, prepares a prescription that can be shared with a pharmacy and the patient can then opt to have their medication delivered directly to their house or pick it up from the local store.
CannaTelehealth provides you with a quick, easy and affordable telehealth appointment that allows you to be assessed within minutes for your eligibility for a medical marijuana prescription and receive the help you need.
Medicinal Cannabis and other plant based therapies are a natural treatment which can potentially help relieve the symptoms for several conditions.
- The New England Journal of Medicine 2018 May 17;Effect of Cannabidiol on Drop Seizures in the Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome Orrin Devinsky 1, Anup D Patel 1, J Helen Cross 1, Vicente Villanueva 1, Elaine C Wirrell 1, Michael Privitera 1, Sam M Greenwood 1, Claire Roberts 1, Daniel Checketts 1, Kevan E VanLandingham 1, Sameer M Zuberi 1; GWPCARE3 Study Group
- Don’t Fear the Reefer-Evidence Mounts for Plant-Based Cannabidiol as Treatment for Epilepsy. Perry MS. Epilepsy Curr. 2019 Mar-Apr;19(2):93-95. doi: 10.1177/1535759719835671.
- Cannabidiol in patients with treatment-resistant epilepsy: an open-label interventional trial. Devinsky O, Marsh E, Friedman D, Thiele E, Laux L, Sullivan J, Miller I, Flamini R, Wilfong A, Filloux F, Wong M, Tilton N, Bruno P, Bluvstein J, Hedlund J, Kamens R, Maclean J, Nangia S, Singhal NS, Wilson CA, Patel A, Cilio MR.
Lancet Neurol. 2016 Mar;15(3):270-8. doi: 10.1016/S1474-4422(15)00379-8. Epub 2015 Dec 24.
- https://epilepsyqueensland.com.au/ Resources
- https://www.epilepsy.org.au/our_services/epilepsy-nurse-line/ Resources
- https://epilepsysmart.org.au/resources/epilepsy-smart-schools/ Resources
Disclaimer: CannaTelehealth is not promoting the use of medicinal cannabis. Medicinal cannabis does affect every person differently, due to factors such as size, weight, health, dosage, tolerance and age. Medicinal cannabis might not work for you, and you might experience side-effects. Information provided by CannaTelehealth is for educational and informational purposes only. For medical advice, please refer to your doctor. Medicinal cannabis in Australia is regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration and details about cannabis as a scheduled drug can be found on their website.