About a third of patients who suffer from epileptic seizures have a form of the disease that is resistant to medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These people, roughly a million, still experience seizures while taking pharma medicine.
Dr. Orrin Devinsky, a neurologist from New York University Langone Medical conducted one of the largest studies on a cannabis-based drug for treatment-resistant epilepsy and the findings were as significant as they were promising.
The researchers treated 213 patients with cannabis’ non-psychoactive chemical, cannabidiol or CBD and monitored them for 12 weeks. The group of patients included children and adults who suffered from 12 different types of extreme epilepsy.
As a part of an open door policy, the patients also knew exactly what they were being treated with and were allowed to consume the cannabis along with their current medications.
The findings were very telling of the capabilities of cannabis: the addition of CBD to epileptic treatments reduced motor seizures with about two percent of the patients became entirely seizure free. Researchers noted that the CBD was able to reduce seizures by the same amount that existing pharma medications can.
Twenty-three of the patients had Dravet syndrome, a form of epilepsy that begins in infancy, and noted that their seizures fell by an average of 54 percent. Eleven patients had Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, a type of epilepsy where seizures vary from tonic (stiffening) and atonic (dropping). Researchers noted that the LGS patients saw a drop in seizures by an average of 55 percent.
Around 79 percent of the participants noted adverse effects, but they were not serious enough to make them drop out of the study.