Cannabis medicine for children with severe, drug-resistant epilepsy

Nick Russell
4 min readFeb 7, 2023

Numerous editorials have been written on the subject of medicinal marijuana, including those in the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and Time. Supposedly, Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN agrees with the site’s demand for a revolution to legalise marijuana.

As of this writing, medicinal marijuana has been legalised in 23 states and the District of Columbia, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Extreme cases of epilepsy, such as Dravet syndrome, have led some patients and their families to turn to medicinal marijuana as a therapy option. This condition is characterised by persistent seizures and resistance to conventional treatment.

However, it’s only natural that many people don’t accept this.

“We’ve already had patients come to us and say that the only thing they’ll take is marijuana instead of established treatment,” says Kathryn Davis, MD, MTR, neurologist and medical director of the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit at the Penn Epilepsy Center. I find it very unsettling, since there is now insufficient data to warrant such a conclusion.

Interlacing Web
Charlotte’s web raises new questions about the usage of medicinal marijuana for treating epilepsy. This is not a made-up narrative for kids; it’s the true account of Charlotte Figis, a 5-year-old Colorado girl who, according to an article published by CNN in August 2013, no longer had seizures after being administered marijuana oil to treat them.

How much, if any, improvement would a 5-year-old kid see from using medical marijuana? Your mental images are completely inaccurate. None of the treatments worked, and each of Charlotte’s 300 seizures lasted at least 30 minutes. Their long search for a treatment for her frequent seizures ended when she started taking this medication.

While first clinical studies of medical marijuana have showed encouraging results, it is probable that this medicine is not a miracle cure for seizures.

As Dr. Davis puts it, “there was only one adolescent who made a spectacular recovery with medicinal marijuana,” and this one case got a lot of attention. “Media outlets were quick to report on this despite a lack of evidence from the scientific community. Although considerable talk has been had about this issue, not much research has been done on it. Physicians’ provision of patients with trustworthy medical counsel on the proper use of medicinal marijuana is essential. More research is obviously needed, and first inquiries are now under way. As a doctor, I can only offer drugs that have been shown to be effective, and the current body of data does not support the use of medical marijuana for the treatment of epilepsy.”

What It’s Really About
Approximately 400 chemical compounds exist in the cannabis plant. THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) are two cannabinoids of special interest to those looking for an anti-seizure medication (cannabidiol).

Each of these parts has a distinct purpose.

Tetrahydrocannabinol is the name for marijuana’s psychotropic component (THC). Cannabidiol (CBD), which has no psychotropic effects, is showing promise as a treatment for a wide range of medical conditions and potentially as a seizure preventive.

Small clinical trials using cannabis’s cannabidiol (CBD) oil as a treatment for some types of seizures showed promising results in December 2014, according to a study published in the journal Epilepsy and Clinical Neurosciences (AES).

However, there may be substantial variations in the amounts of these specific cannabinoids in marijuana. The FDA has not yet set a standard for regulating the levels of various compounds in marijuana, making it hard to estimate with any degree of confidence what dosage a patient would obtain. It’s possible that the hazards still exceed the benefits even when the CBD to THC ratio is higher.

Use of Marijuana for Medicinal Purposes In a research published in December 2014, AES found that one-third of the roughly 60 children and adolescents given the cannabis extract saw a 50% or higher decrease in seizures.

However, over half of the participants in this study also

New or increased seizure activity,
Uneven sleep schedules and chronic exhaustion
A losing situation is now developing (including an intubation and a death)
In a smaller research, 23 children with Dravet syndrome, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, and other kinds of severe epilepsy were given Epidiolex, a cannabis extract. The typical patient was just 10 years old.

According to the AES report from December 2014, 9 of the 23 people observed a reduction in seizures of 50% or more. The majority of people with Dravet syndrome (71%) had a significant reduction in their seizures, and 31% saw them completely disappear.

The restrictions on minors’ access to medicinal marijuana, which may contain anywhere from zero to hundreds of times the legal limit of THC and CBD, are far looser. Using THC may make seizures more common.

It seems that not all forms of epilepsy can be helped by using marijuana. Dr. Davis’s studies suggest that the signs and symptoms of certain kinds might be exacerbated. Medical marijuana is not the optimal option for controlling seizures until the results of a large-scale clinical investigation are available.

The bright side is that you are not absolutely powerless right now.

Aside from THC and CBD, medicinal marijuana has a wide variety of other chemicals. Investigating the many medications, their effects, and the numerous formulations on the market may teach one a great lot. Studies are now being done to establish appropriate patient dosages. You should exercise care until then, since THC is only one of several substances that might increase seizure risk.

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Nick Russell

I am an online blogger and love writing for Medium and other platforms on the same scope.