A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has found that cannabis helped decrease seizures in patients with an infrequent form of epilepsy.
The study, published by the journal, involved children with a form of epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome. People who have this disease experience seizures that have proven tough to most drug treatments, and a high mortality rate for those who are diagnosed with the condition.
The 14-week trial detailed on in the study included 120 randomly selected children, and young adults who have been diagnosed with Dravet Syndrome. The half of the group received a dose of cannabidiol, a chemical found in the marijuana plant.
They received 20 milligrams of CBD per kilogram of weight. The other half in the group received a placebo.
The results were:
Those given CBD saw seizures drop from 12.4 to 5.9 per month. Also, 43 percent of those who received CBD saw at least a 50 percent decline in the number of seizures per month. Those who were given the placebo saw the number of seizures drop from 14.9 to 14.1 per month.
Five percent of patients who took CBD were seizure-free for the entire month, while no patient who took the placebo were seizure-free.
New York University neurologist Dr. Orrin Devinsky, the lead author on the study, said that the test results offer “solid, rigorous scientific evidence that in this specific syndrome, cannabidiol is effective at reducing seizures.”
But he added that cannabis “is not a panacea.”
More studies are anticipated to be carried out on how CBD might affect adult epilepsy patients, those with other forms of epilepsy and how it could react with other epileptic medications.
The other side:
While the decrease in seizure numbers were commendable, some patients also went through some side effects. These were diarrhea, vomiting and fatigue while some had to go for flu treatment.
GW Pharmaceuticals funded the study. The Great Britain-based biopharmaceutical company has been a leader in developing narijuana-based products, including Sativex, the first cannabis-based medicine to get approval in any country.
Sativex is used for treatment of those with multiple sclerosis, overactive bladder and neuropathic pain.
Australian Dr. Samuel Berkovic, in an editorial that accompanied the trial results in the journal, noticed that there has been an inadequacy of studies done on the possible advantages of cannabis.