Cannabis Extract Could Reduce Seizures in Children with Severe Drug-Resistant Epilepsy

by Tilray News Editor


Parents of children with drug-resistant epilepsy have found that cannabidiol (CBD)-enriched cannabis can significantly reduce the life-threatening seizures that their children experience, according to a survey published in last month’s issue of Epilepsy & Behavior.

Researchers at Stanford University surveyed parents who were using cannabis to treat their children’s severe epilepsy, after treatment with pharmaceuticals and other therapies had proved unsuccessful. Eighty-four percent of parents reported a reduction in their child’s seizure frequency while using cannabis and a majority reported that the seizures were either mostly or completely eliminated. Other benefits included increased alertness, better mood, and improved sleep.

The use of cannabis to treat pediatric epilepsy has been controversial. A common misconception is that treatment for pediatric patients involves smoking cannabis, though children are often treated with a CBD-rich cannabis extract that has no psychotropic properties.

The debate gained worldwide attention last year when CNN reported on the case of Charlotte Figi, a girl with Dravet Syndrome who was successfully treated with cannabis extract. Dravet Syndrome is a rare and severe form of epilepsy where patients experience multiple life-threatening seizures a day that cannot be controlled, even by very strong medications. Treatment with cannabis has nearly eliminated Charlotte’s seizures and greatly improved her quality of life.

Doctors and researchers note that the efficacy and potential long-term impacts of cannabis use in children are still unclear, but research is gaining momentum. In 2013, the FDA approved the first clinical trials on the use of a CBD-rich cannabis extract to treat drug-resistant epilepsy in children.

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