Cannabis Being Used to Treat Epilepsy

With cannabis being more wildly accepted than ever before, marijuana is starting to be taken seriously in the medical field. According to the Canadian Press, Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children is beginning clinical trials to treat children with severe epilepsy with cannabis extracts. Traditional medications have failed these children and the need for new treatment options are imperative.

The study will include 20 children from ages 1-18 years of age that all suffer from Dravet syndrome. Epilepsy, more commonly known as seizures, is characterized by convulsions, loss of consciousness, and sudden disruptions in sensory functions. Dravet syndrome is a very severe form of epilepsy.

Dr. Blathnaid McCoy, pediatric neurologist and lead for the clinical trials spoke about the severity of Dravet syndrome. “It varies massively, but [children with] Dravet syndrome often have multiple seizures every day and they can have quite prolonged seizures. And in line with that, they also have a significant disruption in normal development, so they can have challenges with their mobility, with feeding difficulty, with interactions.”

The participants will be administered an oral combination of CBD and THC to analyze the effects of the treatment. THC has long been known as the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis but in recent years CBD has seen a rise in its interest. In Scientific American, Diana Kwon wrote about the new shift in interest.

“In particular, both patients and scientists have started to focus on the potential benefits of CBD, one of the main compounds in cannabis. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is responsible for its euphoric effects, CBD does not cause a ‘high’ or pose the same type of risks that researchers have identified for THC, such as addiction and cognitive impairment. Rather, studies have shown that it can act as an anticonvulsant and may even have antipsychotic effects.”

Cannabis treatments can prove to be a revolution in the medical industry but first it needs to be tested to make sure this is a viable option for patients.