A new study shows that a medicinal marijuana extract could contribute to reducing the number of violent seizures in young people who have severe epilepsy. This particular extract is cannabidiol, which has shown its effectiveness in lowering the number of convulsive seizures.
This latest research was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. To conduct this study, its team monitored over 100 children who suffered from Dravet syndrome. All of them were aged in between 2 to 18 years old.
Cannabidiol, the Marijuana Extract, and its Effects
They were randomly divided into groups, according to the treatment method. 52 children received the marijuana extract for 14 weeks. The remaining 56 received a placebo, with their number of seizures falling from 14.9 to 14.1.
According to reports, the team noted a decrease in the number of seizures per month in kids who received the cannabidiol. The median number of convulsions per month dropped from 12.4 to 5.9 in more than 50 children.
This marijuana extract is not psychoactive like THC. This is the substance that produces the “high” effect. Cannabidiol is not dangerous, and it is not addictive. Still, it did result in a series of side effects which include diarrhea, loss of appetite, and vomiting.
The extract is not available on the market since marijuana is still a Schedule 1 drug. Despite its beneficial effects in helping kids fight the Dravet syndrome, only 1,500 of them receive it from the manufacturer, GW Pharmaceuticals.
There is no other treatment for Dravet, a condition which can cause cognitive problems and ongoing seizures. People suffering from it also present an increased risk of early death.
GW Pharmaceuticals funded this research and is planning on submitting the marijuana extract for approval by the FDA. The company is hoping that the drug will start being available for kids who have Dravet beginning with 2018. GW Pharmaceuticals reports having tested this marijuana extract for 18 years.
This substance was very hard to obtain even for this research. The leader of the study, Orrin Devinsky, mentioned that cannabidiol could bind to the receptors in the brain that lead to seizures.
“The big question now is whether this drug is also effective for a larger group of people with epilepsy who don’t have these rare syndromes,” said Devinsky.
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