Treatment of epilepsy has been a big challenge for patients experiencing intense and uncontrollable convulsions or seizures.
In most medications for epilepsy, the relief is assessed on the basis of success in reducing the frequency of seizures. There is now some good news as some components of cannabis can be useful in treating epilepsy.
Unlike other forms of epilepsy, those with refractory epilepsy such as Dravet syndrome or Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or LGS, have been facing the problem of insufficient treatment options to control the multiple seizures. They also face the challenge of side effects such as cognitive impairment, behavioral disturbances, and developmental delays.
Now the silver lining is that there are promising results for patients of hard-to-treat epilepsy with marijuana extracts.
Reduction In Seizures Reported
Two components in cannabis — THC, the main psychoactive substance, and cannabidiol or CBD — are finding useful applications in treating such extreme cases.
A study reports new evidence of oil cannabidiol helping the reduction of seizures in those affected with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.
Inspiration From The Cure Of Colorado Girl
Already there is the inspirational case of Charlotte Figi, a Colorado girl aged six, who had been hit by Dravet syndrome and who experienced relief from a cannabis derivative.
After the failure of many treatments, the little girl's parents persuaded the doctors to prescribe cannabis oil with lower THC and higher CBD concentrations. It worked, and the girl showed remarkable reductions in seizures with the numbers down to two or three a month compared with 300 seizures a week. The case was widely reported on media.
Inspired by Charlotte's case and pot legalization in some states, scientists started investigating how the marijuana plant can help people with refractory epilepsy.
For patients with LGS, drop seizures are accompanied by convulsions in the entire body, and they also lose consciousness.
The seizures are tough to control, and medications will not work in most cases. The worry is that such cases also impair intellectual development.
"Our study found that cannabidiol shows great promise in that it may reduce seizures that are otherwise difficult to control," said study author Anup Patel, M.D., of Nationwide Children's Hospital and The Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus.
Promising Results From Trials
During the test's trials, cannabidiol was administered to 225 people in the age group of 16, most of whom were affected by LGS. The trials lasted 14 weeks to assess whether an oil form of cannabidiol can cut a special type of seizures called "drop seizures" compared with a placebo.
The results turned out to be positive, with average drop seizures of 85 a month showing a 42 percent decline after giving participants a higher dose of cannabidiol. Nearly 40 percent of the participants reported a remarkable reduction in seizures.
That showed cannabidiol taken in liquid drops with no dosage limit had led to fewer seizures than the placebo group, where the drug was given in varying doses.
Though medical marijuana has been dubbed an easy route for a high, THC in pill form has been advised for people under chemotherapy to avoid nausea and weight loss. In the case of epilepsy, cannabidiol is being used for treating the sick.