A key cannabis compound helped to reduce the number of drop seizures in patients with a severe form of epilepsy, newly published results of a clinical trial suggest.
The study, published by The Lancet, suggests that cannabidiol, alongside other anti-epilepsy treatments, reduced drop seizures in those who suffer from Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.
Drop seizures involve sudden falls due to loss of muscle tone. Lennox-Gastaut is a severe, lifelong form of epilepsy involving frequent seizures and cognitive impairment. The syndrome causes about one to four per cent of childhood epilepsy cases, researchers say.
In the 14-week clinical trial, the frequency of seizures was reduced in those who took a pharmaceutical formulation of cannabidiol. But researchers say the long-term efficacy and safety of the cannabis compound, as well its interaction with other epilepsy drugs, still need to be studied and confirmed.
The study’s lead author, Dr. Elizabeth Thiele, a neurologist who specializes in pediatric epilepsy at the Massachusetts General Hospital, said she and her colleagues are “pleased that our study has potentially found an additional option to add to patients’ existing treatment to reduce drop seizures.” In a news release, she noted that “it’s important to highlight that the drug used in this trial is a pharmaceutical formulation, and not medical marijuana.”