In this video Dr. Orrin Devinsky talks about a current study into the use of cannabidiol (CBD) to treat dravet syndrome within children. Dravet syndrome is a very rare, genetic and also fatal form of epilepsy which usually affects children from an early age and is know to remain for the entire life of the person who has it. This form of epilepsy is also known to be a high seizure burden on those who have it which means they are likely to have a high number of seizures each day.
Due to the severity of dravet syndrome and its genetic attributes those who have it have tough lives and when medications are used to treat but ultimately control the symptoms they can at times do more harm than good in the long term. Increased amounts of opiate and steroid based medications can be beneficial but in the long term they can be harmful towards the patients kidneys and liver and create further complications.
One option that is being considered as both an alternative as well as a supplementary treatment for modern medications is cannabis. To be specific, cannabidiol (CBD), which is an ingredient (cannabinoid) found in high quantities within the cannabis plant. It can also be found in the hemp plant as well.
Credit: NYU Langone Health
The study in question involves children with dravet syndrome who have been taking up to 5 to 10 different medications to treat their symptoms with no positive results. In some cases these epilepsy medications are used one after the other or sometimes all at once. This reinforces the need for an alternative as this amount of drugs would be harmful to a grown adult never mind a child.
The children within the study took cannabidiol along with their current medications and while others where given a placebo option. Cannabidiol (CBD) as mentioned before is an ingredient from the cannabis plant that is non-psychoactive. This means it will not get you high like THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) which is particularly good in this study because children are involved. Furthermore CBD has been found to be very safe for consumption with little to no side effects. Some minor side effects of CBD may include tiredness or an increase in appetite.
Cannabidiol Study Participant – Molly Hendershot
Molly Hendershot was a child participant within the first study who it appears may have received a placebo treatment as her seizures did not stop. However, once she was introduced to the open trial (where you could request CBD) she mnoticed that her seizures stopped for two months straight. This was a huge success for someone who deals with serious seizures everyday as it had never happened before in her life.
The studies main findings concluded that when using cannabidiol (CBD) along with their current medications, patients experienced a significant reduction in the number of convulsive seizures they would have. It should be pointed out that when you consider Molly’s case mentioned above, which involved her being seizure free for 2 months straight, these findings may also indicate that some patients still suffered seizures but they were less than their normal amount.
Dr. Orrin Devinsky’s final point was that
cannabidiol does work in reducing convulsive seizures in children with dravet syndrome.
Overall it looks like CBD has a big part to play in future treatments for dravet syndrome but further study will be needed before a specific treatment with dosages and concentrations can be prescribed. Please note, you should always consult with your doctor before considering the use of any medication or natural alternatives before you do so.