AAN: Cannabidiol May Cut Seizures for Some LGS Patients

Pot Ingredient Might Ease Severe Epilepsy

One particular form of treatment uses cannabidiol, which is a molecule from marijuana devoid of properties that induce a "high".

The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study included 225 people who have Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, a specific form of epilepsy that results in highly frequent seizures.

Last year, numerous same team members published results from a cannabidiol trial of patients with either Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or another form of epilepsy, Dravet syndrome, finding similar improvements. He directs the division of epilepsy at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

According to a study of more than 200 patients with LGS, almost 40% had at least a 50% reduction in drop seizures when taking a pharmaceutical-grade liquid form of cannabidiol (Epidiolex), a molecule from the cannabis plant, compared with 15% taking a placebo, reported Anup Patel, MD, of Nationwide Children's Hospital and the Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus, and colleagues. Here, participants had an average age of 16 but patients don't normally make it to adulthood, so it's possible that they are not entirely representative.

Participants had an average of 85 drop seizures monthly and they had previously tried an average of six epilepsy drugs that did not work for them. They had an average of 85 drop seizures a month, had tried an average of six epilepsy drugs that didn't work, and were now taken an average of three epilepsy drugs. Others received a lower dose of 10 mg/kg daily or were given a placebo.

The effect was stronger with the higher cannabidiol dose; patients who took 20 milligrams of cannabidiol daily experienced an overall atonic seizure reduction of 42 percent, while a minimum of 50 percent reduction in atonic seizures was found for 40 percent of these patients. Participants who received the 10 mg/kg dose of cannabidiol had a 37% reduction in drop seizures, and 36% had their seizures reduced by half or more. Decreased appetite and sleepiness were the two most common side effects.

It was also found that those on cannabidiol were 2.6 times more likely to report that their overall condition had improved.

The latest study on the subject is presented at American Academy of Neurology's 69th Annual Meeting in Boston this week. But it does appear to help reduce seizures in one of the hardest-to-treat forms of epilepsy, known as Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome or LGS.

"This is important because this kind of epilepsy is incredibly hard to treat". While there were more side effects for those taking cannabidiol, they were mostly well-tolerated. "I believe that it may become an important new treatment option for these patients".

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Chong reviewed the new data and was also encouraged by the results.

"This study was more carefully designed than earlier cannabidiol studies, to rule out the placebo effect, and therefore provides us with more trust in the results", he said.

Note that this study was published as an abstract and presented at a conference. The seizures are hard to control and usually do not respond well to medications.

Researchers say that cannabidiol - an active chemical in cannabis - could help to reduce seizures for patients with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.

Armentano said it's time for the United States to stop hampering cannabis-based research.

The researchers are planning to submit the drug to the Food and Drug Administration for approval.

Neurological disorders can be hard to treat, and among these epilepsy is one of the most common worldwide.

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