In recent years, the subject of CBD has played an increasingly prominent role in the medical cannabis conversation. This once-overlooked cannabinoid has drawn the attention of policymakers, patients, and families who say it can help reduce seizures in children suffering from a severe form of pediatric epilepsy known as Dravet syndrome. Researchers have rushed to meet the demand for empirical data on how CBD impacts these patients and the results of one major study were reported this week:
“This is the first solid, rigorously obtained scientific data” that a marijuana compound is safe and effective for this problem, said one study leader, Dr. Orrin Devinsky of NYU Langone Medical Center.
He said research into promising medical uses has been hampered by requiring scientists to get special licenses, plus legal constraints and false notions of how risky marijuana is.
It included 120 children and teens, ages 2 to 18, in the U.S. and Europe. They took about a teaspoon of a sweet-smelling oil twice a day (drug or placebo) plus their usual anti-seizure medicines for 14 weeks. Their symptoms were compared to the previous four weeks.
Serious seizures with convulsions dropped from around 12 a month to about six for those on the drug and did not change in the others. Three patients on the drug became seizure-free during the study. [U.S. News & World Report]
This result is important in that it confirms widespread anecdotal reports from families using CBD oil to treat children with the condition and because the research was performed under tightly-controlled conditions that give weight to its findings. Though not all patients responded to the drug and some experienced side-effects, the fact that a significant overall reduction in seizures was observed is a major step forward for efforts to treat children with Dravet syndrome. Few other options exist for families facing this diagnosis and the possibility of a safe and effective alternative treatment is understandably very exciting for those desperately seeking solutions.
Additional studies are underway to evaluate the efficacy of CBD-based medicines in the treatment of Dravet Syndrome and other conditions as well. We’ll continue to follow these developments closely and we’re optimistic that continuing research will lead to important breakthroughs in the treatment of these extremely serious conditions. The emergence of cannabis-based medicines that are non-intoxicating and appropriate for pediatric use has already had a dramatic impact on the dialogue surrounding medical marijuana and this week’s news marks another milestone towards ensuring that patients have access to both the knowledge and the treatment options necessary to improve their lives.
Content based on “Marijuana Helps Some Kids With Epilepsy, Study Says” by Marilynn Marchione for Associated Press, 5/24/17