According to a new study published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine, cannabidiol (CBD) has been scientifically demonstrated to treats Dravet syndrome, a rare seizure disorder. This study is reportedly the first of its kind to demonstrate CBD’s potential to treat epilepsy in children in a clinical setting.
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“We now have solid, rigorous scientific evidence that in this specific syndrome, cannabidiol is effective at reducing seizures,” said Dr. Orrin Devinsky, a neurologist at New York University Langone Medical Center and one of the authors of the new study, PBS reported.
For years, anecdotal evidence has shown CBD’s ability to reduce seizures. Countless epileptic children have benefitted from the non-psychoactive substance, as have adults who suffer from conditions like Parkinson’s disease and anxiety.
PBS summarized the study:
“For the trial, researchers enrolled 120 children from 2 to 18 years old with Dravet syndrome, a rare genetic form of epilepsy that kills up to 20 percent of patients by the time they are 20. There are no drugs approved specifically for Dravet.
“During the study, the patients stayed on their normal treatment regimen, and half of them also received cannabidiol while the remainder were given a placebo. Over a 14-week treatment period, the median number of convulsive seizures in the cannabidiol group decreased from 12.4 to 5.9 per month; for the placebo group, the number went from 14.9 to 14.1.”
Though some participants experienced side effects like fatigue and nausea — and researchers caution more study is needed — the positive effects of CBD were statistically significant.
According to Dr. Samuel Berkovic of the University of Melbourne, who acknowledged the need for more research, the study represents “the beginning of solid evidence for the use of cannabinoids in epilepsy.”
While the findings vindicate the experiences of an increasing number of people and support mounting research documenting CBD’s potential, there is just one problem: the study was sponsored by GW Pharmaceuticals, which backed the study as part of its Phase 3 approval process with the FDA (previous trials had highlighted the medical benefits, but this installment of the study is more concrete and has been peer-reviewed).
The hypocrisy on the part of the Food and Drug Administration is stark; though the agency has repeatedly refused to fully acknowledge the medical promise of cannabis, it has allowed progress for the pharma giant, which brands its version of the substance Epidiolex.
The FDA has otherwise denied this potential despite volumes of studies on cannabis — including CBD — showing the medicinal benefits not just for epilepsy, but a host of ailments. It claims more research is necessary, but in previously recommending that cannabis remain a Schedule I drug, it has helped hinder further research — except, apparently, by pharmaceutical companies.
By empowering and elevating GW Pharmaceuticals, the FDA is ultimately paving the way for a Big Pharma monopoly on the thousands-year-old plant and, specifically, cannabidiol, which is one of the most promising cannabinoids for medical use.
Further, around the country, GW and its American subsidiary, Greenwich Biosciences, have been hedging their bets in state legislatures, lobbying lawmakers to ensure monopolies over cannabidiol as acceptance of medical marijuana continues to grow and legalization becomes increasingly inevitable.
Regardless of the establishment undertones plaguing the new research, however, the findings are indisputably positive. As PBS further summarized:
“In the cannabidiol group, 43 percent of patients had their number of seizures cut in half or more, compared with 27 percent in the placebo group. And 5 percent of patients taking cannabidiol saw their seizures disappear, compared with none in the placebo group.”
“What really bothers me is the notion that marijuana is also medicinal — because it’s not.”
He insinuated it was a “joke.”
Incidentally, his fact-devoid statements are likely bolstered by the recommendations of the FDA — the same one currently in the process of approving GW’s Epidiolex for medical use.