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Cannabis May Help Children With Complex Motor Disorders

Cannabis may be able to help yet another group of patients improve their quality of life; this time it is a group of kids in need of some good news.  

Childhood is tough enough, but it is exponentially more complicated for those with complex movement disorders, CMD. These are atypical movements that interfere with daily life. Instead of being able to simply sit in a classroom, they may be interrupted by involuntary, repetitive movements and sometimes repetitive vocalizations.  

There are two main categories of movement disorders, hypokinetic or hyperkinetic, too little or too much movement respectively. Kids with CMD almost always display on the too much movement side. Not only is the behavior disruptive to the individual and social settings, it can create poor coordination. In total, it can lead to feelings of shame, isolation and loneliness. It can be a very tough burden to bear for a child.

There are few known effective medical remedies for CMD. That is why news about cannabis being a potential benefit for these children is such a big deal. The source of this news is a solid one in the scientific community. Israeli researchers teamed up with Tikun Olam, the first and largest supplier of medical Cannabis in Israel.  They conducted a study of 25 patients aged 1-17 years who suffer from moderate to severe complex movement disorders using two formulations of CBD enriched oil. One had a 20:1 ratio of CBD:THC, one had a 6:1 ratio. 

The oil was administered to patients for 5 months. At the end of the trial period, “Significant improvement in spasticity and dystonia, sleep difficulties, pain severity, and QOL (quality of life) was observed” in both groups. Negative effects were rare but did include 2 patients whose seizures worsened, 2 whom had behavioral changes and one who became too sleepy as a result of the medicated oils.

This study does not stand alone. A study published in Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience in 2007 pointed out that CBD helped reduce the rigidity, pain, and movement disorders related to MS.  A 2017 study from the Wolfson Medical Center in Israel showed similar outcomes with researchers concluding, “Our findings suggest that cannabis oil rich in CBD may be effective in children with CMD by improving motor function and QOL, and by reducing pain.“

Good research begets good research, so we are bound to hear much more about this line of questioning. While the US fumbles its way through a bad federal policy regarding cannabis and the subsequent challenges that it poses to completing solid, human subject research, countries like Israel, Spain and others are moving ahead. We have them to thank for pushing the boundaries and challenging our stateside politicians and medical professionals. Thank goodness for them. Patients like children with complex movement disorders should not have to wait for us to get over our reefer madness so that they can improve their quality of life. That’s the real crime. 

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