Cases of treatment-resistant epilepsy may be the key to pushing further testing of cannabis oil for children with epilepsy in Canada. Researchers at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children will begin a clinical trial using cannabis extracts to treat children with severe epilepsy. The oral preparation being tested contains both cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The latter is psychoactive while the former is not but one thing is sure and that is the anticonvulsant properties that the two compounds produce in children with treatment-resistant epilepsy.
There are more than 40 anticonvulsant medications on the market but none of them work in 30 percent of patients with severe epilepsy. Having uncontrollable seizures throughout the day has shown to cause developmental, cognitive, behavioral, and motor delays that are avoided when seizures are managed by a high-CBD cannabis oil. For parents, the desperation for a treatment can be unbearable.
So far, CBD has been seen to be effective in reducing seizures but this will be the first time that the combination of CBD and THC is used in Canada. The kinds of patients who will qualify for this initial study are those whose seizures can’t be controlled with other medications. Sick Kids will choose 20 children aged one to 18 with Dravet syndrome, a condition caused by a genetic mutation; it accounts one percent of all cases of epilepsy cases and causes debilitating effects from infancy. Children with Dravet syndrome can be prone to multiple seizures every day and because of their frequency and intensity cause disruptions in the development of mobility, feeding and socializing. When to treatment-resistant epilepsy, the earlier seizures can be managed the better.
Right now, it’s trial and error for doctors and parents to decide what combination of CBD and THC is best. No two children with Dravets is the same but the great hope is that the Sick Kids study will give guidance as to the dose of cannabis oil that is safe and most effective for each child. It will also look at possible side effects per dosage .