Cannabis and Epilepsy

Never mind, cancer, depression and kidney failure - let's not forget cannabis is good for epilepsy, too

Cannabis and Epilepsy

A man having an epileptic seizure. Photo: Ribzy Tron

We have one more case of the medical benefits of cannabis. A nasal spray that prevents epileptic seizures could come on-stream. On Thursday March 3 2016, MGC Pharmaceuticals of Perth (the Aussie one) announced that it had reached a deal with SipNose, an Israeli startup, to research a spray of this nature.

The advantage of going nasally is that it delivers pharmaceuticals directly to the brain rather than having them absorbed by the bloodstream. MGC will provide the dope while SipNose will do the research. MGC already produces cannabis-based items such as cleansing milk, eye serums, facial creams, soaps and toners.

The product will go to market in Strylia when regulatory obstacles are surmounted. In that country, you can have cannabis for epilepsy and other things, but, non-medicinally, it’s still illegal. The Strylian Therepeutic Goods Administration is contemplating downgrading cannabis to a “controlled substance,” like morphine.

Why this spray is great

Dr Ross Walker, a director of MGC and cardiologist, stated that the spray produces a reduction of seizure frequency of between 36 and 54 percent. Alack and alas, the treatment won’t make you high because the medicine doesn’t interact with brain receptors as would a J. Dr Walker commented that with this spray, we could have cannabis for epilepsy as well as cancer and chronic pain, but this might be as much as 18 months in the future. He added that “nasal delivery makes it quite user-friendly, especially for little children.” There will be a clinical trial, the third and largest so far, involving 330 cancer sufferers. Previous trials revolved around terminally ill people and children affliced by severe epilepsy.

About epilepsy

Epilepsy is caused by electrical surges in the brain and there are anything from 50 to 70 million people in the world who suffer from it. There is much anecdotal evidence and even some studies that posit that cannabis for epilepsy reduces the impact of the condition: there are people who claim that smoking marijuana enabled them to manage their epileptic seizures.

? and now, about the cannabis

Charlotte’s web is a form of cannabis that has been used to treat epilepsy. It’s named after a five-year-old girl who almost died from the condition. She was having 300 major seizures a week and was no longer able to walk, talk or eat. Her heart kept stopping. Her parents resorted to marijuana, employing a form that was low in tetrahydrocannabidol, the fun bit, and high in cannabidiol (CBD), which has an anti-psychotic effect. Charlotte’s recovery was amazing. There’s no shortage of these tales.

A study in Britain

Research has been hampered by the illegality of cannabis, but has nevertheless progressed. Some studies in the United States found that CBD lessened the severity and frequency of seizures and now a trial is afoot in the United Kingdom which will be run from Glasgow’s Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh University’s Muir Maxwell Epilepsy Centre, Liverpool’s Aldey Hey Children’s Hospital, not to mention London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital. One of the subjects is 12-year-old Max Robertson, whose mother, 41-year-old Lorraine, remarked, “Sometimes I just think he suffers but he can’t tell us as he can’t talk at all. He’s in his own little world now and we don’t get much interaction from him.”

Dr Richard Chin, director of the Muir Maxwell Epilepsy Centre, made a strong pronouncement in favour of cannabis for epilepsy: “Many children with serious forms of epilepsy do not respond to the medications currently available. We need new means of treating these conditions so that we can give back some quality of life to these children and their families.”

The minimal downsides of cannabis as medicine

Taking cannabis for epilepsy or any other condition can have side effects of diarrhoea, headaches, lethargy, liver problems and weight loss, but people would gladly have these instead of those of pharmaceutical medications, which are worse.

Cannabis is safer than aspirin

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