Cannabidiol slashes seizures in kids with rare epilepsy, study finds
(CNN)Cannabidiol, which is found in marijuana plants, reduced the number of convulsive seizures in children with a severe and often fatal epilepsy disorder, according to research published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine. Among children taking cannabidiol, the decrease in the frequency of convulsive seizures — which involve a loss of consciousness, stiffened muscles and jerking movements — was 23 percentage points greater than the decrease in seizures among children taking a placebo.
The study was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled human trial, which is considered the gold standard test for any new medicine.
Cannabidiol, also called CBD, is one of more than 80 active cannabinoid chemicals in the marijuana plant, which is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, it does not produce a high.
GW Pharmaceuticals, a company that is developing cannabidiol medicines, helped subsidize the study.
“After 3,800 years of cannabis use for epilepsy … we finally have solid evidence,” said Dr. Orrin Devinsky, lead author of the study and director of NYU Langone’s Comprehensive Epilepsy Center. His own previous research indicates that cannabis was used as early as 1800 B.C. in Sumeria to treat epilepsy; neurologists of the Victorian period used Indian hemp, which is rich in cannabidiol, for the same purpose.
Despite the generally positive results, most study participants reported side effects that included vomiting, fatigue, diarrhea and some liver issues.
“CBD is an effective drug for this type of rare epilepsy but was not a panacea (or cure-all) for these children,” Devinsky said.
What is Dravet syndrome?
A total of 120 patients with Dravet syndrome, ranging in age from nearly 2 to 18 years old, were randomly assigned to receive either an oral solution of cannabidiol or a placebo for a 14-week period. Read More…