Marijuana is a gift that keeps on giving for many people, and in the case of some children that suffer from severe epilepsy this couldn’t be more true.
Epilepsy In Children May Greatly Benefit From Marijuana
Cannabidiol, which is derived from marijuana, has been able to help children recover to a remarkable extent. The substance is a non-psychoactive compound that is naturally present in marijuana. Previously, parents who gave their children this substance were doing so without solid evidence backed research – but that may well change.
Doctors are now presenting the first batch of research to see if cannabidiol is as great an optio as it seems. While the results do give a glimmer of hope, they need to be look at through an objective lens.
Marijuana As Medicine
A study that began in 2014 looked at 313 children over a three month time period. The trial showed that 16% of the children left the program because the substance was either not working or giving them nasty side effects.
Dr. Orrin Devinsky, a neurologist at the New York University Langone Medical Center and lead author on the study, highlighted that of the 261 children that continued to take the drug, the amount of tonic-clinic or grand mal seizures they suffered reduced by almost half. And for some kids the benefit didn’t stop with the three month trial. 9% of the respondents in the study, and 13% with Dravet Syndrome, remained free of seizures. Devinsky’s research will most likely be accompanied by three other papers on cannabidiol.
Other research shows that use of the substance can sometimes increase the number of seizures that a child suffers instead of decreasing them. Even within Devinsky’s study, some patients were worse off when they were given marijuana. However, without clinical trials there’s no way to know whether the drugs were to blame or there were external factors.
The perceived effects of marijuana could act as a negative placebo effect. The study also needs to expand on its set of respondents. A couple of hundred patients doesn’t do much justice to the data that is needed to substantiate whether cannabidiol is good or bad – or what conditions and factors make it good or bad.
Use Of Marijuana As Medicine
Without the data available some parents have also turned to medicating their children on their own without physician supervision. Parents are desperate to find means to help their children, and when lack of data stands in their way they improvise in the worst way possible.
Devinsky himself feels that the consistency from one batch to another is different and can affect a child differently. Administration of marijuana to a child needs to be controlled, a higher dose or a lower dose could result in bigger problems than solutions.
Further research is the need of the hour, and clinical trials even more so. Without a controlled test with a placebo element in place, there is little evidence that can be used by parents to help their children. And desperate times call for desperate measures, but doctors fear those measures can only augment the level of desperation that parents feel.