Dravet Syndrome

medical

Epilepsy is number four on the list of common neurological disorders, yet according to the Maryland-based Epilepsy Foundation, conventional treatments do not work for roughly 30 percent of those who experience its seizures.

In studies of Dravet Syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy that affects children, seizures dramatically decrease when patients are given marijuana-derived CBD, compared to placebo groups. Dravet begins in the first year of life in an otherwise healthy infant. Parents of children with Dravet have been advocating for the use of non-psychoactive medical marijuana (like high-CBD oil) to treat their kids.

Charlotte Figi, the child who made the Stanley Brothers’ Charlotte’s Web a leading CBD strain, had her first seizure when she was three months old. Within a couple of years, Charlotte was experiencing over 300 spontaneous grand mal seizures each week.

Grand mals are also known as “generalized tonic-clonic” seizures, which can result in a loss of consciousness and violent muscle contractions. It’s the extreme type of seizure most people picture when they think about seizures. If you follow cannabis politics, have watched Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s CNN documentary, or have tried Charlotte’s Web as a flower or oil then this little girl’s struggle with Dravet Syndrome has touched your life. Charlotte’s mother reached out to the Stanley brothers on a whim, but only a few years later we see more signs of acceptance that medical marijuana is a legitimate aid for Dravet and possibly, even more, forms of epilepsy.

A recent study by GW Pharmaceuticals, a company that specializes in developing prescription cannabinoid medicines, could be one of the first definitive proofs that these parents correct. Cannabis can dramatically reduce the number of seizures suffered by these children. Even the Epilepsy Foundation publicly suggests that Dravet patients are, “not unreasonable to consider cannabis.”

Mid-May this year, the New England Journal of Medicine published the results of the 14-week, 120-patient, GW trial concluding that CBD decreased the average weekly seizures in its patients from 12.4 to 5.9. Those who were given the placebo saw a decline from 14.9 to 14.1 seizures per week. Incredibly, 5 percent of the patients who received CBD saw their instance of seizures disappear altogether, while none of the placebo group were able to say the same.

This rare genetic form of epilepsy kills 20 percent of its sufferers by the age of 20, and it is studies like these that result in substantial scientific evidence that is helping provide answers around treating a serious disorder like Dravet, for which there are no current FDA-approved treatments available.

August 30, 2017

by Alana Armstrong

Profile photo of Alana Armstrong
Alana seeks to see cannabis from the perspective of politicians, advocates, entrepreneurs, and consumers. She got her start with a byline in the arts and culture section and crossed over into cannabis after using it medicinally. Current projects include investigations into cannabis and wellness; entrepreneurs of the Green Rush; cannabis for athletes; and the evolution of cannabis laws and culture in Canada.

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