Pot Ingredient Might Ease Severe Epilepsy

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, April 18, 2017 (HealthDay News) — An ingredient in marijuana could lessen seizures in men and women with a extreme form of epilepsy, a new study suggests.

The ingredient in question is cannabidiol — a molecule from the marijuana plant that does not generate a “higher.” The drug is being created by GW Pharmaceuticals, which funded the new study.

Researchers employed cannabidiol to treat a kind of epilepsy known as Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.

“The seizures in Lennox-Gastaut syndrome can be very difficult to treat, and the ones that lead to falling can be unsafe and occur numerous times in a day,” explained an professional in epilepsy treatment, Dr. Derek Chong. He directs the division of epilepsy at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

The new study was led by Dr. Anup Patel, of Nationwide Children’s Hospital and The Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus. His group tested cannabidiol in 225 young individuals with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. The sufferers had an average age of 16 years.

Each and every month, the study participants had an average of 85 seizures that involved falling (“drop” seizures), the researchers said. The individuals had currently tried an average of six epilepsy drugs that did not help them, and have been taking an average of 3 epilepsy drugs at the time of the study.

For 14 weeks, the participants also received either a greater or reduce dose of day-to-day cannabidiol, or an inactive placebo, in addition to their current drugs.

The sufferers who took the greater dose had a 42 percent reduction in drop seizures overall, and for 40 % of this group, their seizures had been reduced by half or more, the researchers said.

The sufferers who took the reduce dose had a 37 % reduction in drop seizures overall, and for 36 percent, seizures have been lowered by half or much more, Patel’s group stated.

In contrast, these in the placebo group had a 17 percent reduction in drop seizures general, and for 15 %, seizures had been decreased by half or a lot more, the findings showed.

Side effects have been reported by 94 percent of those in the larger-dose group, 84 % of these taking the lower dose and 72 percent of those taking the placebo. Most side effects were mild to moderate, and the two most typical were decreased appetite and sleepiness.


Compared to those in the placebo group, sufferers who took cannabidiol have been up to two.6 occasions much more most likely to say their general condition had enhanced, according to the study.

The study is scheduled for presentation Saturday at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN), in Boston.

“Our final results suggest that cannabidiol could be efficient for these with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome in treating drop seizures,” Patel stated in an AAN news release.

“This is crucial due to the fact this type of epilepsy is incredibly tough to treat. Even though there were a lot more side effects for these taking cannabidiol, they had been largely nicely-tolerated. I believe that it may possibly turn into an essential new treatment choice for these sufferers,” Patel added.

Chong reviewed the new data and was also encouraged by the outcomes.

“This study was far more cautiously developed than earlier cannabidiol research, to rule out the placebo impact, and consequently provides us with far more trust in the outcomes,” he stated.

But Chong also noted that individuals with Lennox-Gastaut do have other accessible therapies.

“These results were only in 225 individuals, and are not necessarily any greater than current FDA-approved therapies for Lennox-Gastaut,” he stated. “Further particulars and studies about safety will need to be disclosed, but it does appear that cannabidiol will be an additional reasonable treatment alternative.”

Dr. Fred Lado is regional director of epilepsy care at Northwell Wellness, Queens and Long Island, N.Y. He reviewed the new study and said that “it’s essential to note that the advantage of cannabidiol was not the same for all participants, with only a minority seeing the greatest benefit.”

Lado added, “Offered the excellent public interest in cannabidiol, it really is also crucial to note that drop attacks are a really certain subtype of seizure that does not occur in most types of epilepsy. A single need to not conclude that other types of seizures will respond similarly. Far more investigation is needed to determine which seizure syndromes and sorts of seizures are most responsive to cannabidiol.”

In the United States, GW Pharmaceuticals operates as Greenwich Biosciences Inc. The company mentioned it plans to apply for cannabidiol approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration later this year.

Findings presented at health-related meetings ought to be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

WebMD News from HealthDay


SOURCES: Derek Chong, M.D., vice-chair, division of neurology and director, division of epilepsy, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City Fred Lado, M.D., Northwell Health’s regional director of epilepsy for Queens and Extended Island, N.Y.  American Academy of Neurology, news release, April 18, 2017

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