Cannabidoil (CBD), which is found in marijuana plants, has significantly reduced the number of uncontrollable seizures in children with a severe, and often times, fatal epilepsy disorder, according to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The convulsive seizures include a loss of consciousness, stiffened muscles, and jerking movements. Among children taking CBD, the decrease in the frequency of seizures was twenty-three percent higher than the decrease in seizures among children taking a placebo.
The study was random, double-blind, placebo-controlled human trial, which is considered to be the most accurate test for any new medicine.
“After 3,800 years of cannabis use for epilepsy… we finally have solid evidence,” said Cr. Orrin Devinsky, lead author of the study and director of NYU Langone’s Comprehensive Epilepsy Center. His own research suggests that cannabis was used as early as 1800 B.C. in Sumeria to treat those with epilepsy.
One hundred and twenty patients with Dravet syndrome, ranging from ages 2 to 18 years old, were randomly given an oral solution of CBD or a placebo for a 14-week time frame. Dravet syndrome is severe childhood-onset epilepsy that causes viscous seizures, speech and language problems, developmental delays, behavioral issues, and movement and balance problems.Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that confuses electrical and chemical communications between neurons in the brain.
Existing epilepsy medications typically don’t work for the patients with Dravet. Up to twenty percent of children diagnosed with Dravet will die from seizures before they turn twenty years old. The patients examined by the study experience seizures constantly, ranging from four times a month to 1,717 per month.
Five percent of the children became entirely seizure-free during the fourteen week study. Parents in the cannabinoid group expressed that they saw “significantly greater” positive changes in their children than parents in the placebo group.
Wayne Hall, professor and director of the Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research at the University of Queensland in Australia, said the research showed “clear evidence of benefits in reducing seizure frequency and severity over the duration on the trial.”
Hall believes that boundaries between medical use of CBD and the recreational use of marijuana by adults should not be made indistinct. “If future clinical trials confirm these promising results, then appropriate regulation will enable the drug to be safely used for medical purpose.”