A new drug called Epidiolex
derived from cannabis shows promise as a treatment for children with severe forms of epilepsy such as Dravet and Lennox Gastaut syndromes.
The two conditions are quite rare but unfortunately very resistant to treatment with current epilepsy drugs.
The new study found that after 12 weeks of taking the drug, the 137 people who completed the study experienced a 54 percent drop in the number of seizures. Participants were given the drug containing canabidiol, also known as CBD, a component of cannabis that does not include the psychoactive part of the plant that creates a “high,” in the form of a liquid. After 12 weeks, the average number of seizures dropped by about half. Some patients were even seizure-free after three months of taking the drug. However, 10 per cent of children in the study had to stop taking the drug due to side effects including tiredness, diarrhea and decreased appetite.
Epilepsy affects around 5.1 million Americans, and two-thirds of these cases can be controlled through traditional medications. Cannabidiol could prove to be a method of controlling the condition in the one out of three patients who do not respond to such treatments.