Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Cannabis Related Treatment for Epilepsy Proves Effective

Marijuana treatment is a touchy subject in today's society. Many express approval for using medicinal Marijuana to help treat cancer and other mental diseases (Parkinson's, extreme stress, etc.). However, others share a discontent with the drug, stating that it is a drug with no benefit and should remain illegal. Even so, multiple studies have linked Marijuana to problems with the brain, including reduced memory, levels of psychosis, and increased levels of random neural activity, . On the other hand, the drug has been shown to increase brain connectivity between neurons, relaxation, and hunger. So from all of this, one simple question arises: is Marijuana (or specifically Cannabis) good for you or bad for you?

From a scientist's opinion, the pros outweigh the cons tenfold.

There have been countless studies that show the benefits of using medicinal cannabis to treat diseases in the past few years. One great example is a recent story about an 11 year old girl that was diagnosed with Febrile Infection-Related Epilepsy Syndrome (Fires). This disease only affects one in a million children, but it is extremely terrible. The patient usually suffers hundreds of seizures a day for a fortnight after contracting an illness, usually a cold or the flu. Annalise Lujan, from Tucson, Arizona, was struck with these seizures one day after participating in a gymnastics competition and was rushed to the hospital. From there, she was hooked onto a ventilator and put into a medical coma. In a new move, the Phoenix Children's Hospital sought approval from the FDA to use marijuana derivative cannabidiol (CBD) as a treatment to try and save the little girl. After 48-hours of treatment with cannabis, Lujan’s seizures stopped and she woke up. The treatment of CBD literally save the little girl's life. "She was afraid. She cried. And, I whispered to her that she was very strong, she's beautiful, and she's strong, and she needed to keep breathing, and she did,” Maryann (her mother) stated in a story written by Kashmira Gander for Independent.

As seen with this story, the potential for cannabis related treatment is incredibly great. A recent study done last week by Orrin Devinsky, a neurologist at New York University Langone Medical Center, and a few colleagues tested 120 children that were diagnosed with Dravet syndrome. This syndrome kills about 20 percent of those with this disease by the time they are 20. The patients were treated with CBD (or Epidiolex, as branded by GW Pharmaceuticals who sponsered this study). Half of the children were given Epidiolex while the other half were given a placebo. Over a span of 14 weeks, they found that CBD reduced the seizures from about 12.4 to 5.9 per month, while the placebo group went from 14.9 seizures to 14.1 per month. However, some children experienced some adverse effects, such as fatigue, diarrhea, and vomiting. 8 of the children withdrew from the study because of these effects. Nonetheless, the benefit of CBD treatment can be seen. "We now have solid, rigorous scientific evidence that in this specific syndrome, cannabidol is effective at reducing seizures," said Orrin Devinsky.

The evidence is all there, and it is coming from many different studies and stories; CBD based treatment is an effective method for treating epileptic seizures across different kinds of diseases. When adding this onto the benefits that are being found for cannabis based treatment, the argument for the legal use of medicinal marijuana (and even legalizing marijuana) gets even stronger. Looking at these cases, maybe it's time we start utilizing this form of treatment to its potential. We could be saving lives by doing so.

For more information, the story of Annalise Lujan can be found here:
http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/cannabis-cbd-febrile-infection-related-epilepsy-syndrome-annalise-lujan-cannabidiol-a7770621.html

The study done on children with Dravet syndrome can be found here:
https://www.statnews.com/2017/05/24/cannabis-epilepsy-trial/

The original research article for the above study that was published by The New England Journal of Medicine can be found here:
http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1611618

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