One of the biggest turning points in my understanding of medical marijuana was when I saw the documentary “Weed” by CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondant, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. The Cannabis plant has been known as an anticonvulsant since ancient times, but the phytocannabinoids Cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) have been catching the attention of not only researchers, but patients and parents of epileptic children as well. Dr. Sanjay admitted that after traveling around the world interviewing patients, growers, experts, and medical leaders, he changed his stance on medical marijuana.
“I apologize because I didn’t look hard enough, until now. I didn’t look far enough. I didn’t review papers from smaller labs in other countries doing some remarkable research, and I was too dismissive of the loud chorus of legitimate patients whose symptoms improved on cannabis.” -Dr. Sanjay Gupta
Seizures are abnormal electrical disturbances in the brain and may be a symptom of a variety of disorders. Our body has two known cannabinoid receptors on our cell membranes, heavily concentrated in our brain, distributed througout our immune system and perpherial organs. Cannabinoids have been shown to provide neuroprotection by decreasing the excitability of neurons in the brain and by regulating the flow of glutamate transmission.
Dr. Sanjay introduces us to Charlotte Figi , who has Dravet Syndrome, a rare, treatment-resistant form of epilepsy, with seizures usually beginning in the child’s first year of life. Charlotte’s parents tried multiple drugs, therapies, and treatments, but by the age of five she was having 300 grand mal seizures a week. The Figi’s signed a do-not-resuscitate order and doctors were recommending a medically induced coma. Desperate, the Figi’s heard about medical marijuana as an alternative treatment and decided to try a high CBD cannabis oil. To everyone’s amazement Charlotte’s seizures lessened immediately. Last year Charlotte had a total of only four seizures and is finally living a normal life.
Dr. Catherine Jacobson, PhD, and parent of an epiletic child, was inspired by stories of parents who were successfully using medical marijuana to reduce their child’s seizures. She led a study at Standford University looking at the effects of CBD-rich marijuana on the frequency of epileptic seizures in children. The group surveyed targeted members of an epilepsy facebook group that have used high CBD cannabis and/or extracts for their child’s treatment-resistant epilepsy.
The results were impressive. Sixteen of the nineteen parents reported reductions in seizure frequency; two of the children became seizure-free, eight reported a greater than 80% reduction in seizure frequency, and six reported a 25-60% seizure reduction. When the researchers looked at the reported sides effects, a whopping 79% reported better mood, closely followed by increased alterness and better sleep. Dr. Jacobson is now part of a team at UCSF that has recently received FDA approval to begin clinical investigations on a high-grade CBD extract developed by GW Pharmaceuticals. They have recently raised 90 million dollars to fund further research on epilepsy.
Juju, Bloom’s Patient Concierge, enthusiastically shared how well hemp oil has been working for patients.
“This is an important, much needed alternative for patients under 18 or patients who do not wish to experience the “psychotropic” effects of medical marijuana. It’s one of our most popular products, made from industrial hemp, and contains no TCH. To use the oil, put the recommended drops under your tongue, hold for 60-90 seconds, then swallow. This allows your body to build up CBD levels that work with your own endocannabinoid receptors to repair and bring about changes in how your entire body functions.”
For adult patients who prefer to smoke or vape, stick to a high CBD content marijuana strains and track to how your body reacts to each.