Originally published at Ministry of Hemp.
A newly released study adds more scientific evidence that CBD oil can relieve the symptoms of epilepsy.
Worldwide, parents of kids with epilepsy, along with adult sufferers as well, are already using hemp-based CBD extract to great benefit. The medical establishment and the law, however, have been slower to catch up.
While this study offers more ammunition for parents to use to defend their choices, it’s far from the first time scientists have found a link between CBD and treating epilepsy. Below, we’ll look at both the new study and a couple of older ones, and ask why CBD oil has so much trouble gaining acceptance.
Seizures in Dravet syndrome kids ‘significantly reduced’ with CBD oil
The 9 authors of the study, who call themselves the Cannabidiol in Dravet Syndrome Study Group, examined 120 children or young adults with Dravet, who added CBD to their existing treatment regimens.
First, the researchers counted how many epileptic seizures the children had over the course of a 4 week period to establish a baseline value for each patient. Then, for 14 weeks, the patients each received either 20 mg of CBD oil per day, or a placebo.
The average number of seizures per month decreased from 12.4 to 5.9 in subjects receiving CBD, versus a reduction of just .8 in the control group who took the placebo. Additionally, about 43 percent of the subjects receiving CBD saw their seizures decrease by at least half.
5 percent actually became completely seizure free with CBD, compared with 0 of the controls.
The scientists also polled the parents using a standardized survey called the Caregiver Global Impression of Change, and found that 62 percent of caregivers felt their children’s conditions had overall improved using CBD oil, versus 34 percent of the control group.
While the placebo effect is certainly powerful, the study shows a clear improvement in kids who took CBD. “Among patients with the Dravet syndrome, cannabidiol resulted in a greater reduction in convulsive-seizure frequency than placebo,” the members of the study group wrote.
However, they also noted that side effects were higher among CBD users, and more patients receiving CBD dropped out of the study than those who received a placebo.
“Adverse events that occurred more frequently in the cannabidiol group than in the placebo group included diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue, pyrexia, somnolence, and abnormal results on liver-function tests.”
While side effects from CBD oil are rare, some of these symptoms are also occasionally reported by adult users.
Past & current studies ignored as government cracks down on CBD
Even before this newest study, evidence has been mounting for years that shows CBD helps people with epilepsy.
Raphael Mechoulam, who was among the research team to first isolate the active ingredients in cannabis, also took part in an important 1980 study into the benefits of CBD oil. Published in the journal Pharmacology, “Chronic administration of cannabidiol to healthy volunteers and epileptic patients” looked at 15 epilepsy patients, with almost all that received CBD showing improvement.
Despite this promising early work, it took decades — and activism and advocacy by patients already using CBD without doctors’ orders — for further progress around CBD in the medical field.
In a November 2016 article published here at Ministry of Hemp, we looked at about a dozen studies which show the benefits of CBD. Despite this, very few doctors will openly prescribe CBD oil for their patients. Of course, many of them are understandably afraid of prescribing or recommending a substance that remains in a legal gray area.
Despite progress, such as medical cannabis laws and limited CBD-only programs in some states, the Drug Enforcement Agency has made threats against CBD oil in recent months and a few local law enforcement agencies are following suit. While individual consumers of CBD seem safe so far and companies continue to offer hemp oil under the guidelines of the 2014 Farm Bill, it is disconcerting to see random raids on CBD oil such as those in Kansas and Texas.
What is the future of CBD oil in America?
Currently, the Hemp Industry Association and other allies of hemp are suing the DEA over its ruling on CBD. Many experts are confident that despite the opposition of the federal government, too much progress has been made toward legalization to completely turn back the clock.
Even so, hemp advocates are concerned that the government may continue its needless crackdown on CBD and other forms of cannabis, despite its proven safety and numerous benefits, while simultaneously looking for ways that pharmaceutical companies can profit off it. After all, while the DEA maintains that cannabis has no medical benefit, the U.S. Department of Health actually holds a patent on the application of cannabis and cannabinoids for its antioxidant and neuroprotectant properties.
The evidence is clear to us: countless CBD oil consumers and a raft of scientific studies tell us that CBD can be a safe, and effective treatment for numerous health conditions. We hope that someday soon, the government and mainstream medicine come to their senses and listen to what so many patients are already saying: hemp has healing properties and should be available to everyone.