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Whole-plant medicinal cannabis reduced epileptic seizure frequency in kids by 86%: study

Dec 16, 2021 | Media Partners, The GrowthOp

This post is presented by our media partner The Growth Op
View the original article here.

Seven of 10 children ceased taking conventional epilepsy drugs completely after beginning medical cannabis treatment.

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New research published in BMJ Paediatrics Open is prompting calls for further exploration of the potential therapeutic benefits of whole-plant medicinal cannabis products in treating epileptic children.

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As the authors of the study note, anecdotal evidence on the value of medicinal cannabis for treating childhood epilepsies has been accumulating since the 1800s, but doctors in the U.K. have been hesitant to prescribe medical cannabis products, citing a lack of clinical trial data.

  1. Alfie Dingley went from upwards of 500 seizures a month, to 17 days seizure-free after taking Bedrolite, a CBD oil. PHOTO BY HIGHGRADEROOTS / ISTOCK / GETTY IMAGES PLUS

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This latest research focused on 10 children, ranging from 1- to 13-years-old, whose severe epilepsy hadn’t responded to both conventional treatments and cannabidiol (CBD) oil.

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On average, each child was taking seven conventional epilepsy drugs. After starting medical cannabis, this average fell to one, with seven children ceasing conventional drugs completely. Monthly seizure frequency was also reduced in every child, by an overall average of 86 per cent.

The study arrives about a week after a number of U.K. politicians called for improved access to medical cannabis products.

Labour MP Andy McDonald made headlines last week after highlighting the courage of U.K. families that have pushed forward to treat their children with medical cannabis products despite regulatory roadblocks and soaring expenses.

McDonald, who lost his son at just 16 years old to epilepsy, said he “bitterly regrets” not investigating whether medical cannabis could have improved his son’s outlook.

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In 2018, Alfie Dingley became the first person in the U.K. to receive a permanent medical cannabis licence after tireless advocacy from his mother, Hannah Deacon.

Since then, just three prescriptions for cannabis-based medicines have been issued through the National Health Service (NHS), and as many as 10,000 families have been forced to pursue private prescriptions, which can cost several thousand dollars a month.

Research could improve medical cannabis access

Researchers say this latest observational study should be accepted by the U.K.’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), which provides guidance on which treatments and therapies the health service in England should adopt.

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“We believe that our data on whole-plant medical cannabis in childhood-onset, severe treatment-resistant epilepsy provides evidence to support its introduction into the NHS within current NICE prescribing guidelines,” researchers wrote.

“Such a move would be hugely beneficial to the families, who in addition to having the psychological distress of looking after their chronically ill children, have also to cover the crippling financial burden of their medication.”

The study also provides evidence that whole-plant cannabis medicines could be more effective than CBD products.

Whole-plant cannabis includes tetrahydocannabinol (THC), in addition to CBD, and other neuroactive cannabinoids and molecules.

On average, the 10 children in the study took 5.15 mg THC and 171.8 mg CBD every day. In addition to the reduction in seizures, parents also reported improvements in sleep, eating, behaviour and cognition.

“Further research is required to elucidate the mechanisms by which the respective additive constituents of whole-plant products lead to superior clinical results,” researchers concluded.

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