Cannabis compound may help treat severe epilepsy


A new study finds that the occurrence of seizures could be significantly reduced with a daily dose of cannabidiol – a chemical component of cannabis.

The new study from Dr Patel and colleagues suggests that cannabidiol may be a promising treatment strategy for Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), after finding that the cannabis compound more than halved atonic seizure frequency in patients with the condition.

Cannabidiol is one of the more than 80 cannabinoids, or active chemicals, present in the cannabis plant.

Research has suggested that cannabidiol has therapeutic potential, with studies linking the chemical to reductions in anxiety and improvements in bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and other mental health conditions.

Studies have also indicated that cannabidiol may be a promising treatment strategy for epilepsy.

The effect was stronger with the higher cannabidiol dose; patients who took 20 milligrammes of cannabidiol daily experienced an overall atonic seizure reduction of 42 percent, while a minimum of 50 percent reduction in atonic seizures was found for 40 percent of these patients.

Among patients who took the placebo, there was an overall reduction in atonic seizures of 17 percent, while 15 percent of patients saw their atonic seizures reduced by at least half.

Compared with patients taking the placebo, those taking cannabidiol were up to 2.6 times more likely to report improvements in their overall condition, say the authors.

Around 94 percent of patients taking the higher cannabidiol dose and 84 percent taking the lower dose experienced side effects, the researchers report. However, the researchers say that the majority of these side effects were mild to moderate, with the most common being a reduction in appetite and sleepiness.

Overall, Dr Patel and colleagues believe that their results indicate that cannabidiol may be beneficial for patients with LGS.

“Our results suggest that cannabidiol may be effective for those with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome in treating drop seizures. This is important because this kind of epilepsy is incredibly difficult to treat.

While there were more side effects for those taking cannabidiol, they were mostly well-tolerated. I believe that it may become an important new treatment option for these patients.”

The researchers plan to submit a New Drug Application later this year to the US Food and Drug and Administration (FDA), proposing cannabidiol as a treatment for LGS.