Marijuana extract, with its psychoactive properties stripped, has proven to be effective in treating epilepsy.
A recently conducted study using an extract of marijuana, a ‘drug’ popular for its psychotropic or mood-altering effects, has proven to be immensely helpful in reducing the number of seizures in children with severe epilepsy. The study, conducted by researchers across the U.S, followed 137 participants with an average age of 11, who experienced severe epileptic seizures and were not responding to conventional medication.
Each participant was administered regular doses of liquid extract from a cannabis plant, known as cannabidiol. During the period, the children’s epileptic seizures dropped by an astonishing 54 percent. Incidentally, the marijuana extract has been proven to be devoid of any hallucinogenic effects, thereby ensuring the children do not get addicted to the alternative medicine.
The results, which will soon be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting in Washington, strongly suggest that medication derived from marijuana could be a potential treatment for certain types of severe epilepsy. However, the researchers were quick to admit that the marijuana extract wasn’t completely safe, yet,
“While the findings are promising, more research is needed, such as randomized-controlled trials to help eliminate the possibility of a placebo effect.”
Lead author Orrin Devinsky, who is the director of New York University Langone Comprehensive Epilepsy Center in the U.S., hinted that lack of a comparison group severely diminished the credibility of the research. Additionally, though the frequency of the seizures dropped by more than half using the marijuana extract, there were multiple side-effects such as diarrhea, drowsiness, fatigue and loss of appetite. About one-fifth of the participants reported experiencing one or several of these side effects and 12 participants dropped out.
Marijuana contains a highly potent psychoactive component called THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol). In case the marijuana extract administered to the children contained even trace amounts of THC, the side-effects are expected, shared Raphael Mechoulam, a chemist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem who wasn’t involved in the study.
Cannabis-derived prescription medicines are slowly gaining acceptance along with recreational use of marijuana. Often such drugs are granted the status of “orphan drug” by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This status can be applied to drugs that have not yet been formally approved, but could be used to treat very rare conditions.
Multiple instances have proven the effectiveness of marijuana based “medicines” in medical cases where mainstream drugs haven’t worked. Perhaps such studies might help propel the usage further, hope marijuana advocates.