Epilepsy is more common in children than you might think, with active epilepsy affecting around six in every 1,000 kids. An epileptic seizure can be a frightening incident to witness, especially when the person it is affecting is your child. Parents have little choice but to stand by, try to remain calm – easier said than done, of course –¬ and try to keep them safe when their child has a seizure. Now it appears that cannabinoids could help avoid these episodes.
In the analysis, researchers looked at a series of published studies, including 19 non-randomized studies and four randomized controlled trials to explore the effects of cannabis on seizures in childhood epilepsy. Most of the studies looked at cannabidiol, a type of cannabinoid that doesn’t impart any psychoactive effects.
When the researchers looked at controlled trials with children who had severe forms of epilepsy, they found a statistically significant decrease in the median frequency of monthly seizures in those who took cannabidiol when compared to a placebo. Moreover, they found a greater number of participants experiencing a a reduction in seizures of 50 percent or greater among the cannabidiol group.
The study’s lead author, University of Ottawa’s Jesse Elliot, said: “Although we saw no significant difference in the number of children who became completely seizure free, we found that a significant number of these children achieved a 50 percent or more reduction in seizures.”
Elliot pointed out that any decrease, no matter how small, in seizures can have a dramatic impact on the lives of the children and their families who are affected. According to the researchers, this is a very active area of study right now, which means we can expect to see lots more studies on the topic emerging in the near future.
One example of how life-changing it can be is the case of a young boy named Jayden David. He was experiencing regular seizures and put on strong medications like benzodiazepines; at one point, he had 500 seizures in a day. His parents were desperate for a solution that actually worked, and their miracle came in the form of cannabis oil. The first day he took it, the seizures stopped. His parents were able to wean him off prescription drugs, and he’s gone from 22 pills per day to just two.
Last June, the FDA approved an oral solution of cannabidiol to treat two rare, severe types of epilepsy: Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, in patients aged two and older. It’s the first FDA-approved drug with cannabidiol, and more could follow given the efficacy of the treatment.
According to the Epilepsy Foundation, research on CBD has been limited because of federal regulations as well as limited access to the drug, not to mention time and financial constraints. However, they highlight a number of recent studies that have shown CBD can help those with epilepsy who haven’t responded to more traditional therapies. With nearly a third of people with epilepsy finding that conventional treatments don’t control their seizures, the treatment could well save a lot of people from suffering.
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