Researchers at Nationwide Children's Hospital gave a liquid form of a compound called cannabidiol to young people with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.
Lennox-Gastaut syndrome is a type of epilepsy that encompasses multiple different types of seizures. He directs the division of epilepsy at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
Each month, the study participants had an average of 85 seizures that involved falling ("drop" seizures), the researchers said. They had already taken around six other epilepsy drugs which didn't work and were consuming an average of three at the time of the experiment.
Results from the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that nearly 40 percent of people with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) had at least a 50 percent reduction in drop seizures, compared to 15 percent taking a placebo.
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Patients who took 10 milligrams of cannabidiol daily experienced a 37 percent reduction in atonic seizures overall, and 36 percent of these patients saw their atonic seizures reduced by at least 50 percent.
Comparatively, the placebo group experienced a 17 percent decrease in drop seizures, and seizures were cut in half or more for 15 percent of the participants.
"While there were more side effects for those taking cannabidiol, they were mostly well-tolerated". 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.
The drug achieves this level of seizure reduction in 40 percent of adults and children, compared to 15 percent taking a placebo, according to the study.
Cannabidiol may reduce seizures in patients with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, held from April 22 to 28 in Boston.
"Our results suggest that cannabidiol may be effective for those with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome in treating drop seizures", said Patel. "This is important because this kind of epilepsy is incredibly hard to treat", said Dr. Patel. "I believe that it may become an important new treatment option for these patients". That means these encouraging results are more likely to be genuine than mere chance or wishful thinking.
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"One can only wonder how much sooner these alternative treatments would have been available and embraced by the medical community were it not for America's longstanding stigmatization and criminalization of both cannabis and those who consume it", he said.
"These results were only in 225 patients, and are not necessarily any better than existing FDA-approved treatments for Lennox-Gastaut", he said.
Studies have also indicated that cannabidiol may be a promising treatment strategy for epilepsy.
Research and many anecdotal stories has consistently indicated, but not necessarily proven, that cannabidiol could help reduce seizures.
In the United States, GW Pharmaceuticals operates as Greenwich Biosciences Inc. The organization does note that marijuana-based products have side effects.
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