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Marijuana can treat epileptic seizures in children, study finds

By Oscar Pascual |

Children suffering from severe epilepsy can find hope in the form of cannabis oil, a recent study shows.

A cannabis extract concentrated with the therapeutic compound cannabidiol (CBD) caused a dramatic reduction in seizures in over half of their test subjects, according to preliminary data from the American Academy of Neurology.

Using a 99 percent pure liquid cannabis extract known as Epidiolex, researchers from the NYU Langone Comprehensive Epilepsy Center administered the drug to 137 children and young adults suffering from severe epileptic disorders such as Dravet Syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, which can induce over 100 seizures a day.

After 12 weeks, 51 percent of the children experienced seizures only half as much as before. A 54 percent drop in the frequency of seizures was seen in all patients, and those suffering from Dravet Syndrome saw an even greater improvement at 63 percent.

In fact, nine percent of all patients — including 16 percent of Dravet Syndrome patients — weren’t suffering any seizures at all after three months.

“What’s exciting is that it’s more evidence that this kind of medicine can be used to treat these conditions,” said Dr. Angus Wilfong, a pediatric neurologist leading Epidiolex research at Texas Children’s Hospital, in an interview with Huffington Post. “But it’s not proof — that’s what the scientific studies happening right now are looking at.”

While CBD oil isn’t 100 percent proven to treat epilepsy, the new research joins anecdotal evidence from children being treated by Charlotte’s Web — an effective cannabis extract named after Dravet patient Charlotte Figi, who experienced immense relief from the oil.

Despite the lack of scientific studies, the current evidence is enough for thousands of families to leave their homes in order to treat their children with cannabis oil, effectively becoming marijuana refugees.

Steve DeAngelo, whose medical marijuana collective Harborside Health Center helps to treat epileptic children, believes that trend will continue until major pharmaceutical companies decide to manufacture CBD oil.

“There is no pharmaceutical product currently available that is capable of treating severe childhood epilepsy,” DeAngelo told the Post. “Unless and until those pharmaceutical products are made available at affordable prices, it is irresponsible for doctors to condemn parents whose only other option is to watch while their children suffer and possibly die.”

Photo credit: askdrgarland.com