While families struggle to understand the risks and benefits of THC, some are moving to try CBD or cannabidiol.
Epilepsy affects 3.4 million Americans, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Even more heartbreaking, just over 470,000 children have the disorder of the central nervous system, creating a future of uncertainty for many parents. Often accompanied by seizures and a loss of awareness, children with epilepsy struggle to remain in school and to fit in with their peers.
Amy Brooks-Kayal, MD, chief of pediatric neurology at Children’s Hospital Colorado and professor of pediatrics, neurology, and pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, recently shared what her hospital tells parents of children with epilepsy. She recommends baseline testing to aid in understanding marijuana’s effects on seizures. While the hospital does not currently recommend medical marijuana, she explains:
“The stories of families eager to try medical marijuana are incredibly moving and completely understandable—because any parent of a child with such a life-altering condition would do everything in their power to make their child better.”
The Epilepsy Foundation makes a case for CBD
While families struggle to understand the risks and benefits of THC, some are moving to try CBD or cannabidiol. The Epilepsy Foundation explained that evidence in laboratory studies and small clinical trials offered CBD as a potential tool to help control epileptic seizures.
The Foundation elaborates, “In recent years, several studies have shown the benefit of specific plant-based CBD products, such as CBD oil, in treating specific groups of people with epilepsy who have not responded to traditional therapies.”
The Foundation also shared a study from the New England Journal of Medicine which found, “the addition of CBD to a traditional seizure medication decreased the frequency of drop seizures significantly in children and adults with LGS.”
While more research will help illuminate if CBD or cannabis can help children with epilepsy, a compelling story in TIME magazine spoke to the power of parents on a mission to help their children heal. One quote from Dr. Orrin Devinsky, head of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at New York University, speaks the loudest, “We’ve introduced a dozen new drugs in the past 20 years, but it’s not clear we’ve made a significant advance in the treatment of drug-resistant epilepsy. We have failed as a scientific and medical community.”
Perhaps failure will be an action of the past as new studies emerge to help parents find ways to combat their feelings of hopelessness and offer their children better treatments that help eradicate the complications of epilepsy.