This compound may help reduce epileptic seizures

Sydney: A naturally occurring compound found in cannabis may help curb the frequency of epileptic seizures, suggests a review of studies.

Epilepsy is a disorder in which nerve cell activity in the brain is disturbed, causing seizures.

The study, published in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, showed that Cannabidiol — one of the cannabinoids found in cannabis — was found more effective than a placebo drug at cutting seizure frequency by 50 per cent or more, and improving quality of life.

Cannabidiol has shown promising results, especially in children and teenagers, whose epilepsy does not respond to the conventional drugs, said the research led by Emily Stockings from the University of New South Wales in Australia.

Between 70 and 80 per cent of people newly diagnosed with epilepsy manage to control their seizures completely using conventional drugs such as valproate and carbamazepine.

But approximately one third of those diagnosed with serious conditions remain unresponsive to these treatments.

Of an initial haul of 91 studies, the researchers found six clinical trials (over 555 patients) and 30 observational studies (2,865 patients) that were eligible for inclusion in their review.

All the participants, whose average age was 16, had rare forms of epilepsy that had not responded to usual treatment.

The data showed that seizure frequency dropped by at least 50 per cent in just under half of the patients and disappeared completely in nearly one in 10 (8.5 per cent).

“Pharmaceutical grade Cannabidiol as adjuvant treatment in paediatric onset drug resistant epilepsy may reduce seizure frequency,” the researchers said.

“The study was mostly in paediatric samples with rare and severe epilepsy syndromes, examining other syndromes and cannabinoids are needed.”

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