Health Care

Cannabis-Based Medicine May Cut Some Epilepsy Seizures

Cannabis-Based Medicine May Cut Some Epilepsy Seizures

The study was supported by GW Pharmaceuticals, developer of cannabidiol.

Researchers from the Ohio State University found that individuals with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) who took cannabidiol every day for 14 weeks saw the frequency of atonic seizures fall by more than 50 percent.

"Our study showed that cannabidiol shows great promise in that it may reduce seizures that are otherwise hard to control", Dr. Anup Patel, of Nationwide Children's Hospital and The Ohio State University College of Medicine, said in a press release. The patients had an average age of 16 years. They had already tried an average of 6 epilepsy drugs that were unsuccessful, and they were taking an average of 3 epilepsy drugs during the study.

They were given either a higher dose of 20 mg/kg daily cannabidiol, a lower dose of 10 mg/kg daily cannabidiol or placebo, as an add-on to their treatment.

At the end of the study period, participants who took the higher dose had a 42% reduction in drop seizures overall, and for 40%, their seizures were reduced by half or more.

Conversely, those who took the placebo had only a 17% reduction in drop seizures, and for 15%, seizures were reduced by half or more.

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Research and many anecdotal stories has consistently indicated, but not necessarily proven, that cannabidiol could help reduce seizures.

Participants receiving the lower 10 mg/kg dose, saw an overall 37 percent decrease in drop seizures. About 15 percent had their seizures decline by half or more.

It was also found that those on cannabidiol were 2.6 times more likely to report that their overall condition had improved.

There were side effects for 94 percent of those taking the higher dose and 84 percent of those taking the lower dose.

However, the side effects were mild to moderate symptoms such as loss of appetite and sleepiness according to the researchers.

The researchers are planning to submit the drug to the Food and Drug Administration for approval. Taking an oil-form of cannabidiol cut down seizures by half in some people suffering from Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, a severe form of the disease.

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But in recent years, there has been new interest in testing cannabis-based medicines to treat severe epilepsy. While there were more side effects for those taking cannabidiol, they were mostly well-tolerated. "I believe that it may become an important new treatment option for these patients", Patel added.

Charlotte's case, as well as the legalisation of medical cannabis in some U.S. states, have prompted scientist to investigate how the plant may help people with refractory epilepsy.

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) has listed a number of these studies on its website.

Dr. Fred Lado is regional director of epilepsy care at Northwell Health, Queens and Long Island, N.Y. He reviewed the new study and said that "it's important to note that the benefit of cannabidiol was not the same for all participants, with only a minority seeing the greatest benefit". The seizures are hard to control and usually do not respond well to medications.

The publication, however, did urge some caution.

The parents of Charlotte Figi are also convinced. Here, participants had an average age of 16 but patients don't normally make it to adulthood, so it's possible that they are not entirely representative. But in reality, it's not THC, responsible for the psychoactive "high" we get from pot, that advocates are most excited about using to treat sick people, but cannabidiol. In the United States, GW operates as Greenwich Biosciences Inc.

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