The Sanctuary Wellness Institute does not offer Psilocybin Therapy. This web page is meant for informational use only.
Psilocybin and Epilepsy
Psilocybin, the psychoactive compound found in "magic mushrooms," is a naturally occurring substance with several medicinal and therapeutic benefits. Many studies conducted by professionals in the field of psychiatry highlight the advantages of this hallucinogenic compound for those with mental health conditions like PTSD, dementia, anxiety, and depression.
Epilepsy is a common seizure disorder affecting about 50 million people worldwide. Treating epilepsy with psilocybin mushrooms is one territory still undergoing exploration by researchers, though.
Since epilepsy treatment remains uncharted territory for psilocybin, you may be wondering whether it’s advisable to use “shrooms” to treat this disorder. And how effective are they for epileptic patients? What are the side effects? Can their use lead to more seizures? Can they replace Anti-Epileptic Drugs (AED)?
Keep reading to learn more.
What is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder affecting people of all ages. It is a condition that causes grand mal seizures resulting from a disturbance in the normal pattern of transmission of brain signals. This neurological disorder affects people in different ways.
In the United States, this condition affects more than 3 million people . Although this condition affects men and women equally, some syndromes occur commonly in females. This is due to hormonal changes in females, like estrogen and progesterone, throughout the month.
Additionally, women with epilepsy run a slightly higher risk of problems during pregnancy than others because of the use of AED. This is because of its effect on fetal development.
What Causes Epilepsy?
Although 6 out of 10 epilepsy cases have an unknown cause, epilepsy often has underlying causes. Some of these causes include;
- Strokes: Conditions like heart attacks and strokes could cut off the oxygen supply from the brain and trigger a seizure
- Brain tumors: Vascular conditions like tuberous sclerosis complex and neurofibromatosis are both tumors that can cause seizures.
- Genetic disorder: Genetic disorders that can trigger epilepsy include down syndrome, unverricht-lundborg disease, dravet syndrome, and lafora disease. These conditions often begin during early childhood or at birth, with seizures as symptoms.
- Neurological diseases: Neurological diseases such as cerebral palsy, spectrum disorder, Alzheimer's, and autism can cause epilepsy. These diseases account for about 20% of epileptic seizures in children.
- Brain Injuries:Trauma and brain injuries are other causes of epilepsy and seizures. These seizures could develop shortly after an injury to the head or appear after several months or years.
- Prenatal injuries: If babies experience brain damage before birth, they are often born with epilepsy. Some factors that can cause prenatal brain damage include poor nutrition, infection from the mother, and oxygen deprivation.
- Infectious diseases: Epilepsy also results from infectious diseases like meningitis, encephalitis, and HIV. It could also develop from parasitic infections like neurocysticercosis and malaria, as well as viral infections like dengue, Zika, and influenza
Seizures are the major symptom of epilepsy. However, there are different types of seizures that differ from person to person. Below are the main types of seizures;
In this type of seizure, the patient remains conscious. The symptoms associated with partial seizures include dizziness and tingling, and twitching of limbs. Other symptoms include alterations to the five senses, unresponsiveness, performing repetitive movements, and staring blankly.
This seizure affects the whole brain. There are several subtypes of generalized seizures, including:
- Tonic Seizures: This seizure causes sudden muscular stiffness. The muscles affected include the legs, arms, and trunk.
- Clonic Seizures: These cause repeated jerky muscle movements of the neck, arms, and face.
- Tonic-Clonic Seizures: The symptoms of this seizure include; stiffness of the body, shaking, loss of consciousness, biting the tongue, and loss of bowel or bladder control.
- Myoclonic Seizures: These cause the spontaneous and quick twitching of the legs and arms.
- Absence Seizures:The symptoms here include a blank stare, short loss of awareness, blinking, and smacking.
- Atonic Seizures: Often called drop seizures, they cause a sudden loss of muscle strength, resulting in a sudden fall.
Traditional Epilepsy Treatments
Although there is no cure for epilepsy, commencing treatment early often makes a huge difference. There are several traditional treatments available for people with epilepsy. For instance, anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) like sodium valproate, carbamazepine, lamotrigine, levetiracetam, and topiramate help control seizures. Other treatment procedures include removing a small part of the brain responsible for the seizures through surgery, and a ketogenic diet, which are special diets that help control seizures.
Also, some patients use herbs that have , anticonvulsant effects to control their seizures, while others supplement their diets with magnesium, vitamin D, vitamin B-6, and vitamin E. What's more, herbs often used to control seizures include burning bush, groundsel, mistletoe, peony, skullcap, valerian, tree of heaven, lily of the valley, mugwort and hydrocotyle.
Can Psilocybin Treat Epilepsy?
Psilocybin is a classic psychedelic that benefits the brain greatly. It builds a greater connection between different brain regions, facilitating synaptogenesis, which improves cognition and mood for people suffering from dementia and depression.
However, since few neuroscience researchers have studied the effects of microdosing psilocybin on epilepsy patients, there is a paucity of scientific information to support its efficacy as a psychotherapy agent for epileptics. As a result, playing it safe and using recommended medication is much more advisable.
To use psychedelic drugs such as psilocybin mushrooms, cannabis, DMT, ayahuasca, or LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) to treat epilepsy or mental illness, one has to be sure there is no risk of encountering long-term problems. While researchers have attested to the therapeutic effects of psychedelic use, more research needs to be done to confirm that such drugs are safe for certain patients to use.
Frequently Asked Questions
Seizures rarely occur from the use of psychedelic substances like psilocybin and LSD. However, drugs like diphenhydramine stimulants (cocaine), isoniazid, and antidepressants have a high tendency to cause seizures.
Yes, people with epilepsy can have a normal life. A person who has epilepsy could get married and have children. However, understanding the disorder is ideal, so one can know how to treat and prevent it.
There are a lot of things that can trigger an episode of epilepsy. These include missing a dose of the AEDs, stress, alcohol, lack of sleep or inadequate sleep, caffeine, time of day, hormonal changes, fever, and flashing lights or patterns. Other triggers include low blood sugar and other illnesses or infections.
Most seizures do not permanently damage the brain, but they affect the brain structure and influence cognitive function. However, this is only true for seizures that last less than 5 minutes and do not damage neurons. Conversely, when a seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes (status epilepticus), there is every tendency that it could prematurely damage the brain.
Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol are two cannabinoids that show promise in treating epilepsy. However, it is important to note that these compounds are still in trial. In other words, clinical trials are still ongoing for these cannabinoids.