From the use of CBD oil to treat Dravet Syndrome, to the scientific evidence that people with epilepsy may have an endocannabinoid deficiency, it is clear that epileptics around the world have something for which to be hopeful.
Now, two major studies in Canada are being executed to examine the potential benefits of medical marijuana in pediatric epilepsy patients.
The first comes from Dr. Richard Huntsman, who is a pediatric neurologist and professor at the University of Saskatchewan. Huntsman, along with Dr. Richard Tang-Wei, a pediatric epileptologist at the University of Alberta, will be examining the effects of cannabis oil in childhood epilepsy. The research will examine the effects cannabis oil has on treating the disorder, and will also investigate how cannabis can directly improve the quality of life for children with the disorder.
In an interview with CTV News, Huntsman said, “For me, I would feel as a parent, having better quality of life would be just as important as control of seizures, so that’s something we really want to look at.”
The study will examine 30 children with severe epilepsy between the ages of 1 and 10 years old. These kids have have either not responded to regular treatments, or have significant side effects from the use of traditional pharmaceuticals. Some of these children have 50 to 300 seizures a day and struggle with basic life skills as well as regressed development.
Many parents have told Huntsman that they already give their children cannabis oil to help control their epilepsy despite the fact that researchers are still not completely sure as to why cannabis works so effectively on the condition. “It seems to have an effect on certain neurotransmitter receptors in the brain,” Huntsman said.
The study is being partially funded by the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation.
Concurrently, researchers at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children are beginning a study on the use of cannabis extracts to treat children with severe epilepsy. That study will examine 20 children with Dravet Syndrome between the ages of 1 to 18 years.