Cannabis Use in Children with Epilepsy
Node Smith, ND
A recent research study on the use of cannabis in treatment-resistant forms of epilepsy differs from previously held beliefs about CBD versus THC.1 The study, conducted in Australia, found that parents treating children with medical cannabis extracts saw a great reduction in epileptic symptoms, up to 75 percent, however, products surprisingly contained relatively low levels of CBD (cannabidiol). CBD has generally been considered to be the key constituent in the therapeutic benefit of cannabis.
The extracts studied, tetrahydrocannabidiol (THC) and THCA
In most of the extracts studied, tetrahydrocannabidiol (THC) and its sister compound THCA were present, though not in amounts that caused psychoactive affects. Over half of the extracts were associated with a seizure reduction of 75-100 percent. This does support animal studies on the anticonvulsant benefits of THC and THCA. Other benefits were also seen, such as cognitive improvements (35 percent) and language skills (24 percent).
Cannabis works synergistically
The surprisingly low levels of CBD, as well as THC, led researchers to consider the whole plant of cannabis as working synergistically, rather than an isolated constituent action in lone fashion. Corresponding author and academic director of the Lambert Initiative, Professor Iain McGregor, said: “Although the illicit extracts we analyzed contained low doses of CBD, three in four were reported as ‘effective’, indicating the importance of researching the cannabis plant in its entirety for the treatment of epilepsy. Furthermore, he commented that “despite the overwhelming presence of generally low levels of THC, concentrations did not differ between samples perceived as ‘effective’ and ‘ineffective.”
- Suraev A. Lintzeris N, Stuart J, et al. Composition and Use of Cannabis Extracts for Childhood Epilepsy in the Australian Community. Scientific Reports volume 8, Article number: 10154 (2018)
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Node Smith, ND, is a naturopathic physician in Portland, OR and associate editor for NDNR. He has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine among the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend camp-out where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Four years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision.