BY: NADIA ZAIDI
Dravet syndrome. If you know what this is at the top of your head, I’m seriously impressed. For the rest of us, it’s a rare epileptic syndrome that affects infants in the first year of life and remains.
Around 80 per cent of people with this condition have a gene mutation that is responsible for inheriting it. Most children with this syndrome develop other conditions and developmental delays. The rarity of this condition is 1 in 20,000 to 1 in 40,000 infants.
A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine points to new clinical evidence in support of medicinal marijuana.
What were the results?
It was a randomized, double blind study using a placebo. This means that neither the researchers nor the study’s participants know whether they were given the actual drug or a placebo. This design is considered the gold standard for effective clinical research. Half the patients received a placebo, while the other half received 20 milligrams per a kilogram of body weight per day of the CBD drug Epidiolex – a 99 per cent cannnabidiol.
The study included 120 children and young adults with Dravet syndrome who were between the ages of 2 to 18. At the end of the three-month trial, researchers compared the amount of seizures that patients got, to the amount that occurred from a four-week period before the trail began.
Those who received the drug had around 12 seizures per month prior to the study. After the study, the frequency dropped by half.
Patients who took CBD had some side effects, which included diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue, as well as abnormal liver-function tests. These were determined as mild and eventually reduced with dosage adjustments.
But this isn’t a sure-fire deal to controlling seizures in children with Dravet Syndrome. In fact, a co-lead author of the study and director of New York University Langone’s Comprehensive Epilepsy Centre, says we must be critical of the use of marijuana.
So what in marijuana works? Cannabidiol – a compound found in marijuana. The effects of this are strictly medicinal, unlike with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the pscyhoactive chemical responsible for getting users “high.”
The compound is administered in an oil form that works by interacting with other receptors on nerve cells.
According to the Epilepsy Foundation, there are currently no medications on the market that can control seizures in children who have Dravet syndrome.
What evidence is there?
Well, in 2013 this drug therapy caught the attention of the medical community when an 8-year-old girl with Dravet Syndrome showed remarkable improvement after taking CBD administered to her by a Denver medical marijuana dispensary.
In the United States CBD oil is legal in 44 states, but remains unregulated. Many patients and parents are not waiting for clinical data and trying unregulated versions of this drug.
Epilepsy is the forth most common neurological condition. It affects over 65 million people in the world, and remains one of the most complex diseases to treat.
Research conducted in April 2017 shows that CBD is also effective in treating another rare and severe form of epilepsy called Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.