In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial—the gold-standard design—a component of marijuana called cannabidiol (CBD) reduced seizures in children with a rare and devastating form of epilepsy.The results, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, provide the first solid evidence that marijuana can be used to treat epilepsy, something some patient groups and advocates have argued for years. It also adds to mounting data supporting the medicinal value of the controversial plant. The Drug Enforcement Administration currently lists marijuana as a Schedule I drug, a type of drug with no accepted medical use but a high potential for abuse.FURTHER READINGMassive scientific report on marijuana confirms medical benefitsA landmark review of marijuana research, released in January by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, concluded that marijuana can effectively treat chronic pain in some patients. But for other conditions, including epilepsy, the data is still inconclusive. Earlier trials on epilepsy, for instance, were small or suboptimal and provided mixed results.For the new high-quality trial, neurologist Orrin Devinsky of New York University Langone Medical Center and colleagues enrolled 120 US and European kids, aged 2 to 18 (average age of 9.8). All of the kids had a rare form of epilepsy, called Dravet syndrome, and suffered from drug-resistant seizures. Dravet syndrome is a life-long intractable condition generally caused by a mutation in the SCN1A gene. This gene is critical for proper electrical signaling in the brain because it contributes to voltage-gated sodium ion channels in neurons. Dravet syndrome affects only about one in 16,000 people. Between 10 and 20 percent of those affected don’t survive to adulthood.
Medicinal use for marijuana confirmed: CBD helps kids with rare epilepsy