Recently, we announced our partnership with SickKids on a clinical trial involving the use of medical cannabis and epilepsy. Today, we look at a little bit of history as well as current and recent research investigating the potential therapeutic applications of cannabis for epileptic patients. Among conditions which might be addressed with cannabis, perhaps no disease has received as much attention in this as treatment-resistant, or refractory epilepsy.

In part, this is attributable to the remarkably widespread story of Charlotte Figi, a young girl diagnosed with a rare form of epilepsy called Dravet syndrome. Charlotte’s frequency of seizures was dramatically reduced when she began taking a cannabis extract rich in cannabidiol (CBD). Animal studies conducted as early as the 1970s showed a correlation between CBD and reduction in seizures, but to this day, the way the chemical compound accomplishes this is uncertain.

What does appear certain is more research is warranted. Anecdotal evidence is building quickly and powerfully, particularly from parents who are treating their epileptic children with medical cannabis. Recent controlled studies also point to efficacy greater than what would be expected from the placebo effect.

Medical Cannabis and Epilepsy: Current Research

Here’s a sample of some peer-reviewed papers examining the treatment of epilepsy with medical cannabis:
Cannabidiol: Pharmacology and potential therapeutic role in epilepsy and other neuropsychiatric disorders
CBD-enriched medical cannabis for intractable pediatric epilepsy
Electroencephalographic Observations of Medical Marijuana for Idiopathic Generalized Epilepsy: A Case Report
Marijuana use in adults admitted to a Canadian epilepsy monitoring unit
Report of a parent survey of cannabidiol-enriched cannabis use in pediatric treatment-resistant epilepsy