Some forms of epilepsy are treatment resistant. This causes huge problems for patients who suffer from the severe side effects of the condition but can’t find a treatment that works for them.
However, there is hope for a future treatment that could improve the lives of these patients. Tetrahydrocannabinol, the major psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis, has been shown to have both anticonvulsant and proconvulsant effects in animal studies of seizures.
The potential medical use of whole-plant cannabis extracts, particularly in children with a developing brain, is limited by the psychoactive properties and the adverse effects associated with long-term tetrahydrocannabinol use.
The potential adverse effects of tetrahydrocannabinol containing drugs in adolescents include cognitive impairment and chronic psychiatric disturbances.
One study assessed the effects of a 99% pure cannabidiol product with minimum amounts of other cannabinoids. The results cannot be extrapolated to non-purified forms of medical cannabis, including tetrahydrocannabinol and other cannabinoid and noncannabinoid compounds.
The possibility of a so-called entourage effect, whereby natural mixtures of multiple compounds produced by cannabis plants are more effective than isolated compounds, remains unproven in animals or humans.
Even if there was synergy between the cannabinoids, the issue remains that chronic use of recreational cannabis, which has a relatively high tetrahydrocannabinol content, is associated with addiction and chronic cognitive and behavioral disorders.
Irrespective of whether with purified cannabidiol or cannabidiol in association with other cannabinoids, both safety and efficacy need to be assessed through blinded, randomized controlled studies using consistent study medication of known composition.
It is hoped that such investigations will lead to a cannabis-based epilepsy treatment that is not only effective, but also safe, in the not so distant future. Thankfully, the committed efforts of the medical science community are bringing us closer to that day.
Here is the full scientific article if you wish to download it.