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THE ESSENTIALS ABOUT CANNABIS OIL FOR EPILEPSY

It has been noticed that conventional Epilepsy drugs don’t work well, or at all, for about one-third of people with this health  condition ass such  associating these patients  with an increased risk of premature death.

Clinical evidence suggests that cannabis oil extracted from marijuana may help some of these patients control their seizures and potentially save their lives. However, a small number of researchers have proven that adding marijuana oil to existing medication may be effective in treating epilepsy in both children and adolescents.

One of those who can testify the wonders of cannabis oil is 12-year-old Billy Caldwell who was seizure-free for more than 250 days when taking the marijuana oil. Another case was in the Netherlands where a six-year-old Alfie Dingle, who suffered from severe epilepsy and was successfully treated with marijuana oil.  This articles looks at cannabis oil and its effects on epilepsy seizures.

What the clinical evidence shows

Cannabis oil has two main constituents: THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). UK allows oil containing CBD alone (CBD oil) to be legally bought without a prescription because it contains only very low quantities of THC. But marijuana oil  with high levels of  THC (more than 0.3%) is illegal in the US as it THC is  regarded as a schedule 1 drug, as it is believed to have no medicinal value.

Robust Clinical trials have provided good evidence that CBD is of benefit for specific epilepsies, such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox Gastaut syndrome. It should be noted that these are rare diseases with no cure as such this can be an advantage for the pharmaceutical industry as marijuana can be fast-tracked for drug development.  It is o n this basis that there has been wide calls on the US Food and Drug Administration to grant a licence for CBD (under the tradename Epidiolex) for the treatment of these epilepsies.

It should be noted that Epidiolex is not the same as the non-standardised, viscous CBD oils that contain varying amounts of CBD and can be purchased in health food shops but rather it is designed as standardised oral solution of pure plant-derived CBD.

However, no current and good evidence exist on the formulations of CBD oil (or indeed cannabis oil) as effective medicine for epilepsy seizures and there is also no robust evidence, what exist are just anecdotal reports that THC helps reduce epilepsy seizures in humans

Studies conducted in animal revealed that THC has weak overall effects in reducing seizures and has also been shown to be a less effective anticonvulsant than CBD. It should be noted that THC is a psychoactive substance and also has a number of side effects, such as the well-known euphoric “high” associated with recreational use of marijuana which so far has been   a significant disincentive for the pharmaceutical industry to develop a medicine containing THC.

It is now left for researchers to decide whether to  expand human trials with better defined THC-containing marijuana oil, or to focus on CBD.   However, CBD lacks psychoactive effects associated with THC and, in general, is regarded as a safe compound and the fact that Epidiolex has progressed towards approval in the US may encourage more research on this compound

The Take Home Message

To conclude, if Epidiolex is legally approved, it will also require monitoring  in a larger number of to ensure that it is safe and effective in a broader population (what’s known as “phase 4 post-marketing surveillance). For any marijuana-based product, only large-scale clinical studies can provide definitive answers about effectiveness and safety.