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American Epilepsy Society research backs CBD as treatment

The American Epilepsy Society (AES) has just released a study confirmed the medical potential of CBD in tackling various forms of epilepsy – the revelation goes in complete contrast to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) current stance on the compound.

CBD is a cannabis derivative, a cannabinoid to be precise, that has proved efficient in combatting treatment-resistant epilepsy, especially in children. Encouragingly, CBD is non-psychoactive, making medical cannabis treatment for children less controversial than it once would have been.

What has the American Epilepsy Society found?

The study focussed on a cannabis-based drug developed by GW Pharmaceuticals called Epidiolex and looked to determine its efficacy in children and young adults who have found no relief through existing medication. The research was presented at the AES’ 70th annual meeting in 2016.

CBD was discovered to reduce the number of seizures both child and young adults patients experienced, as well as the severity of them. Children were picked from epilepsy treatment centers throughout America, to take part in a study that started in Philadelphia back in 2014.

Patients treated with CBD enjoyed a remarkable 45.1 percent median reduction in seizures. Instead of being styled as ground-breaking research, the authors concluded that their findings confirmed what past reports and animal studies had already uncovered. The study suggested that CBD is a “promising treatment” for treatment-resistant epilepsy, and that the compound is helpful in daily dosages of up to 25mg per kg.

The study’s lead author and New York University Langone Medical Center neurologist, Dr Orrin Devinsky, was very optimistic about the findings.

Perhaps most encouraging about CBD treatment is the long-term benefits that the cannabis medication can provide. Almost 1 in 10 participants have stopped experiencing seizures altogether, with that rising to just over 1 in 8 when only considering Dravet’s Syndrome patients. For many epileptic patients, being seizure-free is completely new territory.

In the subsequent periods, which are very encouraging, 9 percent of all patients and 13 percent of those with Dravet Syndrome epilepsy were seizure-free.

What do these results mean?

The study’s authors have not held back in their comments about the research, and that the overall scientific consensus is now that cannabis and derivatives such as CBD and THC can be beneficial in treating seizures.

In an AES press release, lead author Elizabeth A. Thiele, M.D., Ph.D., said that the results of the research could offer hope to many epilepsy patients.

Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome and Dravet Syndrome patients have struggled to find effective medication, but children who suffer with these conditions may find them easier to manage from now on. The effectiveness of CBD varies, however the outcomes from its use are overwhelmingly positive. The lack of side effects and easy toleration of the compound also goes in its favor.

Thiele expressed some caution, and that patients and those around them should not think of CBD as a “silver bullet,” and that expectation management was key. However, it’s undeniable that kids are finding relief from cannabidiol (CBD) that they’ve never had through approved epilepsy medication.

Issues with self-medicating

The positive findings and relative good accessibility nowadays of medical cannabis and CBD has made self-medicating quite common among American patients. However, physicians have advised against obtaining and medicating epilepsy with CBD without consulting a doctor beforehand.

Without a physician’s guidelines, parents may find it difficult to administer a correct CBD dose – this is the quandary of Nicole Hansen, whose seven-year-old boy has epilepsy.

Hansen explains that having a precise ratio of CBD to THC is essential in finding success through medical cannabis treatment – the required ratio could also vary from patient to patient. Given the imprecisions unavoidable through a natural solution such as medical cannabis, finding that accurate, consistent CBD to THC ratio is not always easy. A bad ratio could be ineffective for patients, or even worsen symptoms.

But many parents feel like they have no option but to use any types of medical cannabis and CBD products that they can, due to the lack of legal availability of products in their states. With the mounting evidence that CBD oil presents a minimal risk and can be life-changing for patients with severe epilepsy, some parents reckon that flouting the law is worth doing – either that or relocate to a legalized state like Colorado or California.

Interestingly, the DEA, the most important anti-cannabis wing in the federal government, said that CBD users were not a priority, citing the growing opioid crisis as their top concern instead.

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