Parent Survey Of Cannabidiol-Enriched Cannabis Use In Pediatric Treatment-Resistant Epilepsy

CBD or Cannabidiol is an extract found in the parts of the Cannabis sativa plant , along with the major compound THC or Tetrahydrocannabinol .

The former compound is non psychedelic, while the latter isn’t. The plant mentioned above belongs to a family of flowering plants called Cannabaceae.

What is Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a disorder that affects the Central nervous system. It is a neurological disorder where the activity of the brain becomes erratic, causing seizures, unusual behavior and loss of awareness.

Someone having a seizure may convulse extremely, or just sit extremely stiff and stare blankly into space. Patients who stare blankly into space during a seizure are said to suffer from something called absence seizures.

For an epilepsy diagnosis, a single seizure isn’t sufficient. There has to be at least two or more, for the condition to be considered as epilepsy.

Childhood Epilepsy is more common in children with a genetic background of epilepsy.

Epilepsy may surface in children as febrile (Fever related) seizures. However, seizures caused due to fever will not make the child develop epilepsy. He/she has to have a longer seizure, and a family history of seizures for that diagnosis.

What happened in the study

Childhood epilepsies are severe, characterized by frequent seizures and neurodevelopmental delays.

The child has an impaired quality of life. As these seizures are drug resistant, the families of the impaired child usually seek alternative treatments.

This trial tried out the use of CBD enriched cannabis in drug resistant epileptic children.

Parents of drug resistant epileptic children belonging to a Facebook group were introduced to this survey, of testing cannabidiol-enriched cannabis to treat their child’s seizures.

Nineteen of the responses received met the criterion needed for the study: a diagnosis of epilepsy and current use of cannabidiol-enriched cannabis.

Thirteen of the total number of children had Dravet syndrome, four of them had Doose syndrome, and one each had Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and idiopathic epilepsy.

Doose syndrome is also called Myoclonic-astatic epilepsy (MAE). It is a childhood epilepsy syndrome with tough to treat seizures. A dravet syndrome is a severe form of epilepsy where signs of the Syndrome first are seen at 18 months of age.

Lennox – Gastaut Syndrome is a disorder which is characterized by two or more types of seizures, and mental retardation. It is usually seen in children with brain development problems or acquired brain damage.

Idiopathic epilepsy is a condition where the affected person suffers from recurrent epileptic seizures. Although, it is not related to any brain lesions or abnormal neurological symptoms.

The children had tried an average of 12 anti-epileptic drugs (AED) before trying CBD enriched cannabis.

84% of the 19 parents (16 parents) reported a decrease in the frequency of their child’s seizures, while taking cannabidiol-enriched cannabis.

Two parents reported 100% freedom from seizures, 8 parents reported more than 80% reduction in the frequency, and 6 parents reported a 25-60% seizure reduction.

There were added benefits like increased alertness, better mood, and improved sleep. Drowsiness and fatigue were the side effects.

A further survey shows that these parents are using cannabidiol enriched cannabis as prophylaxis for their child’s drug-resistant epilepsy.

The use of medical marijuana will likely be a growing concern for the epilepsy community, due to the growing number of states legalizing it. The safety and tolerability data for cannabidiol-enriched cannabis use among affected children are not available.

Research into the correct and specific measurements to prepare pure cannabidiol are needed to see if the consumption of this compound by children suffering from drug resistant epilepsy is safe and tolerable by them.

What did the study conclude?

This study very clearly shows show CBD enriched THC is extremely effective in reducing the frequency of seizures in children.

A fraction of the children receiving this medication even reported themselves as seizure free.

What does this mean?

This really paves a clear path for research in the treatment of epilepsy in general too, as no drug till date has rendered an affected person seizure free.

More extensive research into this wonder drug may open up new arenas in the field of medicine.

Read the research paper here –
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24237632

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