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  • Post Time POSTED JANUARY 14, 2019

Cannabis worked for six-year-old Kate Pogson when no other medication helped her. As someone with epilepsy, she suffered hour-long seizures once every two days before her family discovered the value of CBD-heavy cannabis oil, says her father Barry in an interview.

The Torontonian says he gives Kate cannabis oil twice a day, which has drastically reduced her number of seizures. “All the other drugs she used to be on made her like a zombie,” he recalls. Kate is given the strain Charlotte’s Web – with a CBD percentage as high as 25 percent – which is only available in Colorado but the Pogsons received a Health Canada exemption to receive the cannabis from the U.S.

Scientific evidence backs up Pogson’s story. Research1 out of The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) found that when researchers gave cannabis oil to children with epilepsy, it resulted in a significant drop in the number of their seizures after taking it for several weeks, with none of the caregivers reporting the kids developed any hallucinatory effects.


"We observed promising clinically beneficial effects including a reduction in seizure frequency and improvements in certain aspects of adaptive functioning and quality of life measures," said Dr. Blathnaid McCoy, a neurologist at SickKids who took part in the study.

Another study2 published in April, 2018, reported that CBD treatment for epilepsy patients “was 74% more likely than placebo to reduce seizure frequency by more than 50%. In the observational studies of CBD, nearly half (48.5%) of the 970 patients across a range of epilepsy subtypes achieved a 50% or greater reduction in seizures.”

The study authors3 cautioned that “cannabinoids were used as an adjunctive therapy rather than as a standalone intervention” and noted that there is little evidence to support cannabinoids as a replacement for current standard anti-epileptic drugs.

Drew Woodley, the Director of Government Relations for Epilepsy Ontario, says in an interview that he is encouraged to hear about both the anecdotal evidence that cannabis usage can reduce the number of seizures in epilepsy patients and also how more research funding can be poured into this area. “There are few authoritative studies on how cannabis can be helpful,” he says, “but I know of at least two studies happening now looking at how cannabis can be effective for epilepsy patients.”

Pharmaceutical companies are also watching this space closely, with one company leading the charge. GW Pharmaceutical developed Epidiolex, a CBD oral solution for the treatment of seizures associated with two rare and severe forms of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, in patients two years old and older. It was recently approved by the FDA in the U.S. but has yet to be available in Canada.“What we’re trying to do is bring legitimate science to this very difficult situation,” says Steve Schultz, vice president of investor relations at GW.

He goes on to say, “We are looking for solutions to eliminate these challenging seizures and GW decided our approach of going through regulatory process, which was expensive and time-consuming, resulted in scientific-evidenced products that works and are effective.”

References:
1. https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/cannabis-oil-with-thc-may-help-treat-kids-with-severe-epilepsy-1.4035970
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29511052 3. https://www.mdedge.com/neurologyreviews/article/162504/epilepsy-seizures/among-cannabinoids-cannabidiol-has-best-evidence

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