Marijuana component CBD reduces seizures by 39 percent

Marijuana Extract Reduces Seizures in Kids with Rare Disorder

Children and young adults with a rare form of epilepsy may benefit from taking orally a chemical found in marijuana, according to new research. One is that Epidiolex seems to have a drug interaction with clobazam, a widely used epilepsy drug, leading to increased blood levels, although they suggest that the dose of clobazam can be cut without reducing efficacy. The New England Journal of Medicine published the findings online on May 24. Three children - 5% - stopped having seizures altogether.

In an editorial published with the study, Dr. Samuel Berkovic of the University of Melbourne called the trial "welcome" and "the beginning of solid evidence for the use of cannabinoids in epilepsy".

Elizabeth A. Thiele, director, Pediatric Epilepsy Program, Massachusetts General Hospital and who has contributed to numerous studies, had told Medscape: "It's exciting because at least for a portion of people with Dravet and with Lennox-Gastaut, it's going to be an effective treatment, and what I can see with my experience with the expanded-access program, it's going to be an effective treatment for other people as well". "So, sadly, not a home run for most patients but another tool in our treatment regimen".

One such campaigner is mother, Vera Twomey who marched from her home in Cork to Leinster House in March to highlight the difficulties faced by her seven-year-old daughter Ava who suffers from the condition. Furthermore, 51% of parents/guardians reported reduced use of anti-epileptic drugs by their child after commencing use of cannabis products.

The research was funded by GW Pharmaceuticals.

As a baby, Billy Caldwell was so desperately unwell that doctors declared he wouldn't see his first birthday. However, he warned that more now needs to be done to improve our understanding of Dravet syndrome, if we want to find the best treatments possible.

But after years of ineffective treatment and - at its worst - suffering up to 100 fits a day, his condition is finally under control. And certainly it isn't any relation to cannabis in its plant form.

The drug, which is derived from cannabis but with the psycho-active elements removed, is expected to become available some time next year.

Around one in 200 of the United Kingdom population suffers from epilepsy, a wide-ranging disorder with more than 130 known causes. "We need to develop a curriculum to address the rapidly changing scientific and regulatory landscape surrounding the medical use of cannabis and cannabinoids". "They've exhausted other options", says Professor Scheffer.

"This research is critically important".

Dravet syndrome is a complex childhood epilepsy encephalopathy disorder, and is often-associated with drug-resistant seizures and a high mortality rate.

The children who received CBD in the study saw a considerable decrease in the number of seizures they had when compared to a placebo group.

This amounts to a drop in the median number of monthly seizures from nearly 12 to approximately six. "After almost 4,000 years we for the first time have vigorous scientific data that a compound from cannabis works to treat epilepsy". A now famous high CBD strain, Charlotte's Web, was named after her by the company that produced her medicine.

Lead author of the study, Dr. Orrin Devinsky, said up to 20 percent of children with Dravet can die from seizures before the age of 20.

Cannabidiol, which GW has branded as Epidiolex, is a non-hallucinogenic component of marijuana that can be purified and administered in oil.

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