Compound found in cannabis could treat drop seizures

22 April 2017

In a large-scale controlled study, it was found the molecule cannabidiol has positive effects on the condition.

A compound found in cannabis could be the key to cutting the chances of seizures in children and adults.

Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome (LGS) is a severe form of epilepsy which is difficult to treat and often appears between the ages of two and six.

In a large-scale controlled study, it was found the molecule cannabidiol – found in the part of the cannabis plant that doesn’t give users a ‘high’ – has positive effects on the condition.

A total of 225 people with an average age of 16, and an average of 85 seizures a month were monitored for 14 weeks. They had already taken around six other epilepsy drugs which didn’t work and were consuming an average of three at the time of the experiment.

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Participants were given either a dose of 20mg/kg of daily cannabidiol, a lower dose of 10mg/kg or a placebo on top of their usual medication.

The higher level resulted in a 42 percent reduction in drop seizures, while 40 percent saw their seizures reduced by half or more.

Meanwhile, the figures for the lower dose were 37 per cent and 36 per cent respectively, while those on placebos saw a 17 percent reduction in drop seizures and 15 per cent found seizures reduced by half or more.

"Our study found that cannabidiol shows great promise in that it may reduce seizures that are otherwise difficult to control," said study author Anup Patel, MD, of Nationwide Children's Hospital and The Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus and a member of the American Academy of Neurology.

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"Our results suggest that cannabidiol may be effective for those with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome in treating drop seizures. This is important because this kind of epilepsy is incredibly difficult to treat.

"While there were more side effects for those taking cannabidiol, they were mostly well-tolerated. I believe that it may become an important new treatment option for these patients."

It was also found that those on cannabidiol were 2.6 times more likely to report that their overall condition had improved.

Drop seizures occur when the sufferer’s muscle tone changes, leading them to collapse and put themselves at risk of injury.

The results will be presented at the upcoming American Academy of Neurology's 69th Annual Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts.

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