For the past two years, we at The Free Thought Project (TFTP) have reported on the rise of medical cannabis to treat epileptic seizures, especially in children. As knowledge is spread and legalization sweeps that nation, many people are coming forward to tell of their wondrous success at stopping seizures with cannabis – where pharmaceutical medications failed.
At the annual meeting of the American Epilepsy Society in Dec. 2015, the most talked-about study was one where medical cannabis provided very significant seizure reduction in epileptic children. As studies and real-life success stories piled up, the medical cannabis field advanced to the point where there is now a nasal spray that consistently stops seizures within 20 seconds.
TFTP conducted an exclusive interview with the mother of Novaleigh, a 5-year-old girl who suffered from 100 seizures a day along with other debilitating conditions. She is now almost 100% seizure-free after starting cannabis oil treatment, and her other conditions have dramatically improved.
While medical cannabis helps with a variety of adult and childhood ailments, childhood epilepsy has gotten perhaps the greatest attention. Even staunchly ‘red’ states have grudgingly put into place very limited medical cannabis laws, being forced to acknowledge its ability to give children their life back.
The need for information on how many epileptic patients are finding success with medical cannabis is greater than ever, and one Australian organization has stepped up.
Epilepsy Action Australia conducted a nationwide survey, finding that an astonishing 90 percent of epileptic patients who tried medical cannabis reported a reduction in seizures.
“The survey consisted of 39 questions assessing demographics, clinical factors, including diagnosis and seizure types, and experiences with and opinions towards cannabis use in epilepsy. A total of 976 responses met the inclusion criteria. Results show that 15% of adults with epilepsy and 13% of parents/guardians of children with epilepsy were currently using, or had previously used, cannabis products to treat epilepsy. Of those with a history of cannabis product use, 90% of adults and 71% of parents reported success in reducing seizure frequency after commencing cannabis products.”
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The number of survey respondents who used cannabis to treat epilepsy was not particularly large, but consider that medical cannabis has only been legal in Australia since Feb. 2016. It’s still difficult to procure legal medical cannabis products there, so much so that imports are rising quickly.
While only 15% of respondents reported using medical cannabis, by this time next year that number could be double or more – especially after reading studies such as the one described here.
One reason patients were choosing cannabis was “to obtain a more favorable side-effect profile compared to standard antiepileptic drugs.” Standard anti-seizure pharma drugs have a range of negative physical and behavioral side-effects from minor to severe.
The Australian study found, “The number of past antiepileptic drugs tried was a significant predictor of medicinal cannabis use in both adults and children with epilepsy.” This apparently means that the more anti-seizure drugs they’ve tried, the more likely they are to try medical cannabis. Most survey respondents said they would be willing to participate in clinical trials of cannabinoids.
Big Pharma and their partner at the DEA -- which both profit from prohibition -- aren't going to like the fact that people are turning to a plant for treatment.
The Australian study is telling indeed. Similar surveys would be of great value in the U.S., especially in Colorado and west coast states where medical cannabis has been available for epileptic patients for years. Stories abound of people moving to Colorado so their children with treatment-resistant epilepsy can find healing.
Having firm efficacy data could serve as a buffer against a federal crackdown on legal cannabis states, which appears imminent with rabid prohibitionist Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. Federal government is still mired in the War on Drugs, keeping cannabis absurdly classified as a Schedule 1 drug with “no medical value.”