Thanks to marijuana legalization, scientists have turned their attention to the health properties of cannabis. Applying medical marijuana for seizures, they have discovered the potential benefits of CBD that unlike THC does not lead to a euphoric effect, addiction, or paranoia. Moreover, the latest studies have shown that CBD has the ability to alleviate epileptic seizures due to its anticonvulsant and non-psychotic features.
Last month, The Lancet Neurology published the results of the largest open-label study that investigated the effect of a cannabis-based drug on patients with a treatment-resistant form of epilepsy. During a 12-week period, 162 epileptic patients were treated with a 99% extract of CBD at New York University Langone Medical Center. The CBD drug was used as a complementary medication to the existing treatment.
The published report revealed that the cannabis treatment reduced motor seizures in 36.5% of patients providing the effect similar to that of the existing medications, and 2% of participants became completely free of seizures. Besides, 79% of patients experienced side effects like fatigue, insomnia, and diarrhea, but the downsides were mostly mild, and only 3% of participants decided to stop taking the CBD drug because of their adverse reactions.
As of today, this trial is the most profound study of CBD's effect on epileptic seizures, but many issues remain unstudied. In their subsequent commentary also published in The Lancet Neurology, the researchers mentioned their findings were limited in terms of comparison with possible drug interactions and placebo effects.
The possibility of medicine interactions leads to concerns, as CBD can significantly inhibit liver enzymes and enhance the concentration of other medications in the body. Therefore, the adverse reaction of patients is more likely to be caused by the increased action of other drugs rather than the CBD itself.
The conducted study did not include a control group that could compare the findings with the placebo effect. In contrast, an earlier study conducted at the University of Colorado discovered that 47% of epileptic adolescents and children whose families moved to Colorado for them to be able to receive weed treatment reported improvement of their condition while only 22% of patients who already lived there showed the same result.
Despite the mentioned limitations, the trial carried out by the New York researchers has made an important breakthrough in establishing CBD as an effective natural compound for epileptic treatment. Though there is clear evidence that CBD can help with treatment-resistant epilepsy, the scientists are not fully aware of how CBD actually works. They expressed their hope to address these restrictions in blind and placebo-controlled clinical trials that are currently testing CBD on patients suffering from Lennox–Gastaut and Dravet syndrome, other debilitating forms of epilepsy. Today, the science still needs more evidence of CBD's influence on epileptic conditions. Meanwhile, medical marijuana for seizures is very cautiously advised by most cannabis researchers and doctors.