Medical Marijuana and Epilepsy: Breakthrough New Study Could Help With Legalisation

A new study involving 213 children and adults suffering from the debilitating symptoms associated with epilepsy has been published.

This study set out to prove that medical marijuana contains properties able to fight against the extreme symptoms of epilepsy.

Seizures are scary for all involved; the patient themselves, their family and friends that witness the overpowering convulsions and unstoppable muscular spasms.

Grand Mal seizures originate from abnormal electrical activity throughout the brain. The Grand Mal is not specifically associated with epileptics however; extremely low blood pressure, head trauma, drug abuse, high fevers and strokes can also be triggers.

The array of conditions that induce these life-threatening attacks are not limited to genetics or environment; rather incorporating a larger dynamic of factors. The current treatments for epilepsy help to slow down the amount of seizures in some people and decrease the severity in others. None however offer a substantial step towards a cure…until marijuana was considered.

Epilepsy effects a wide diversification of society; ‘Epilepsy Action Association Australia’ state that globally, 2.5 million people are identified as epileptics. Over 250,000 Australian citizens will be diagnosed with epilepsy each year. For a country of only twenty three million, these statistics are proof that measures need to be employed quickly.

Epilepsy sufferers are constantly prescribed different chemical compounds to alter the brains electrical activity, hopefully slowing it down. These drugs work to a degree but (epilim, tegretol, lamictal, etc.…) can inflict unseen side effects, which on top of epilepsy seizures, leaves the patient conflicted and can frequently lead to depression and anxiety.

‘If something half works there’s no point trying to fix it’ applies to the original ideology around seizure medication. However, it has recently upgraded with a forward approach to medical marijuana.

An extract of marijuana with no psychoactive properties has been shown to reduce the number of seizures in children with severe epilepsy, a surreal sentence for most but a beacon of hope for epileptics and their families. Epilepsy is a disease that has the potential to collapse the world around the victim. Learning difficulties, speech impediments and violent seizures are common in younger diagnoses; career choice limits, lifestyle and adult privileges (driving) being denied due to safety regulations and possible violent seizures.

So how does the marijuana treatment work?

Cannabinoids contain different compounds that have anticonvulsant properties, these compounds don’t leave the patient intoxicated, drowsy or lethargic. During the clinical trials by Dr. Orrin Devinsky, of New York University Langone Comprehensive Epilepsy Centre in New York City, 213 participants were chosen. With an average age of 11 years old and all experiencing severe epileptic seizures, modern prescription medicine was not improving their symptoms at all.

The trial proceeded every day for 12 weeks as each patient consumed liquid cannabis extract (cannabidiol).

The results revealed that on average 54% of seizures during the trial subsided. This indicates that medication derived from marijuana could help to prevent the onset of Grand Mal seizures and undoubtedly treat certain types of severe epilepsy.

Australian and American governments are starting to endorse the positive applications of cannabinoid extract, with the Premier of Queensland, Australia recently stating;

 “I’m especially interested in any benefits this form of treatment can have on kids with severe epilepsy…. This trial is about letting the experts do as much research as possible into this issue so that we can all get a clearer understanding of any clinical benefits medicinal cannabis can provide

This step in a positive direction will account for a significant advantage for those undergoing intractable conditions; not just epilepsy but also chemotherapy related nausea, A.I.D.S and terminal pain. Searching in every possible direction for a cure is a necessity, it seems immoral to limit lifesaving panacea research due to out-dated legal barriers.

Instead of relying on Good Samaritans to produce the hemp oil in make-shift-labs, Doctors must be allowed involvement. Progress is a magnificent aptitude for a country to attain, and our society is lunging for it.

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