Health & Fitness

Can Medicinal Cannabis Help with Severe Myoclonic Epilepsy?

Many of you will have never heard of Dravet Syndrome before, but this is a condition with which researchers now believe that cannabis can be used to treat. Basically, Dravet Syndrome is a debilitating and somewhat severe form of epilepsy. It seems to develop during a child’s first year and is known to cause violent seizures, which many parents find deeply worrying. Because of the anti-epileptic properties of cannabis uncovered in other studies about the potential benefits cannabis can provide for epilepsy sufferers, researchers wanted to see if a similar finding can be made for Dravet Syndrome.

Dravet Syndrome in Depth

Dravet syndrome is sometimes also known as SMEI, or “severe myoclonic epilepsy of infancy”. Because of the large number of seizures that SMEI sufferers experience, it can cause youngsters to find it hard to develop their language, aswell as motor skills. Another common symptom is hyperactivity and many sufferers find it hard to relate to their peers.

As mentioned above, SMEI causes severe febrile seizures, which are usually accompanied by a fever in the form of an increased temperature. It is thought that theses seizures can be started by even the slightest change the child’s body temperature. Other known triggers include such things as flashing lights and excitement. The seizures are so powerful that they sometimes last for as long as 30 minutes, and will often be accompanied with a trip to hospital.

How can Cannabis Help?

It is now common knowledge, which is backed up with verifiable evidence, that cannabidiol (CBD), is able to be used as a therapeutic treatment for reducing and stopping seizures for many epileptic disorders. In a number of preclinical trials that have taken place, it has been found that cannabis has an anti-convulsant effect on mice. It is hoped this knowledge can be transferred to humans.

So how does CBD work? It Is thought that by triggering the CB1 receptor in the endocannabinoid system of the body, it prevents a neurotransmitter from being released, and it is thought that this “silencing” of the receptor prevents seizures from occurring.

A recent report documented the experience of one particular Dravet Syndrome sufferer from Denmark who was plagued by around 50 seizures per day. After using CBD, the child only suffered 2 or 3 seizures at month, and these were at night. This meant she could stop with the anti-epileptic drugs that she was prescribed.

In a recent survey of parents of Dravet Syndrome sufferers, it was found that around 85% of parents who used CBD to control their child’s seizures, found that there was a reduction in the number of seizures experienced. Of this majority, around 11% of the parents were proud to announce that there were no seizures experienced by their children. Around 42% said that there was an 80% reduction in the number of seizures experienced. With greater research, we could see cannabis being used as a treatment and cure for this terrible paediatric condition.


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