A recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine confirmed what many marijuana advocates have for years, marijuana can reduce the amount of seizures had by epileptic children. The study’s lead investigator, Dr. Orrin Devinsky, stated, “This study clearly establishes cannabidiol as an effective anti-seizure drug for this disorder and this age group.”
The Study’s Findings
The double-blind, placebo-controlled study tested 120 children and teenagers who suffer from Dravet syndrome. Dravet syndrome is a form of epilepsy that causes many daily seizures and kills 20 percent of patients before they reach the age of 20. During the 14 week study, the average number of seizures per month for the group prescribed cannabidiol (CBD) decreased from 12.4 to 5.9 while the placebo group’s average seizures decreased from 14.9 to 14.1.
The Results Must Be Taken With Caution
The news that there could be some relief for Dravet sufferers is huge. And while the news is exciting, Dr. Devinsky cautions, “This is not a panacea,” in reference to the study’s findings. The study proves marijuana’s effectiveness in treating Dravet syndrome but not for all forms of epilepsy. There were however, some side effects, including: diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue, pyrexia, somnolence, and abnormal results on liver-function tests, likely due to the high volume of CBD given to each of the studies participants. The study’s participants were each given 20 mg per kilogram of body weight per day or placebo which is a large dose of CBD for anyone, let alone a child. For proof of general effectiveness for seizures, more studies need to be conducted, though the evidence is exciting.
More Research Must Be Done
Studying the effects of marijuana as a medicine is important to deeply understanding exactly what the benefits can be. Yet due to the lingering schedule 1 classification by the DEA as well as the recently re-upped “war on drugs,” marijuana research is all but prohibited by the federal government. Until the federal government’s antiquated opinions on marijuana and its possible medicinal qualities, studies like these will not be possible in the United States. While there were side effects, including: diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue, pyrexia, somnolence, and abnormal results on liver-function tests, likely due to the high volume of CBD given to each of the studies participants.