New research into cannabidiol (CBD) has highlighted the considerable health benefits that even occasional doses of the cannabis compound can offer to people who suffer from a severe form of epilepsy.
Researchers investigated the use of CBD, when combined with regular epilepsy medication, for treating seizures among patients with Lennox–Gastaut syndrome. Lennox-Gastaut syndrome is a severe form of epilepsy which primarily affects young children and most commonly results in "drop seizures" – during which the patient will fall suddenly to the ground and lose all muscle tone, thereby going limp.
In the study, first published on May 17 by the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers saw dramatic decreases in the frequency of drop seizures among patients who received just two doses of CBD – compared to those who received a placebo. Among those given the largest doses of CBD – 20mg per kilogram of body weight – drop seizures reduced, on average, by 41.9 per cent during a 28-day period.
The study's chief researcher, Dr. Orrin Devinsky, told Medical Xpress that the results of his study add "rigorous evidence of cannabidiol’s effectiveness in reducing seizure burden in a severe form of epilepsy and, importantly, is the first study of its kind to offer more information on proper dosing”.
In this study, researchers used Epidiolex, a CBD medication manufactured by GW Pharmaceuticals, which became the first cannabis-based drug to be recommended by the United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last month.
Researchers and the FDA have emphasised that CBD is a distinctly different cannabinoid to THC – tetrahydrocannabinol – which produces the “high”, and that the medical benefits of CBD will not necessarily be experienced by consuming herbal cannabis.
"This is not something you can get from a dispensary today in the United States,” Devinsky warned, referring to the medical cannabis dispensaries that operate in several US states. “It's not something that you can get by smoking marijuana. It is a very specific pharmaceutical grade product derived from marijuana, but quite different than what is available anywhere else right now in the United States."
As TalkingDrugs has previously reported, research has demonstrated CBD’s effectiveness at treating a wide range of ailments, including other severe forms of child epilepsy.