For the past few years, many children suffering from severe seizures have turned to cannabis medications like Epidyolex for relief. And while Epidyolex is effective for many children, it doesn’t work for everyone.
Thankfully, there might soon be another option: whole-plant cannabis medications. Whole plant medications are exactly what they sound like — medications that contain the full profile of a cannabis crop (as opposed to just CBD or a CBD/THC combination).
UK researchers recently published a study on whole-plant cannabis in children with seizures in the journal BMJ Paediatrics Open. The research included ten case studies from children with uncontrollable seizures. Two of these children had previously used Epidyolex, and the case studies were collected from January to May 2021 through two charity organisations, MedCann Support and End our Pain.
Researchers reviewed the children’s outcomes on whole-plant cannabis medications and determined that using the medications reduced the frequency of the children’s seizures by 86%. Subsequently, children took fewer antiepileptic drugs after starting with a cannabis medication, reducing use an average of seven to one.
Jonathon Arnold, a University of Sydney cannabinoid researcher, called the study “promising” and noted that it might show that there are other molecules in cannabis that help with seizures aside from THC and CBD.
It may be that whole-plant cannabis is effective in not only reducing seizures but assisting in behavioural and cognitive impairments.
However, he noted that more data is needed — a statement the researchers agreed with when reporting their findings.
When looking at this study, it’s also crucial to keep in mind that the ten children included took different medications with varied CBD/ THC contents. Additionally, the anti-seizing agent in whole-plant cannabis may come from a completely different cannabinoid that hasn’t been studied as extensively as THC or CBD has. And, of course, whole-plant cannabis isn’t cheap or accessible to everyone, as it cost £874 per month.
Still, this research is pretty interesting and may lead to more options for children with seizures. If you’d like to read it yourself, you can find “Medical Cannabis For Severe Treatment-Resistant Epilepsy In Children: A Case-Series Of 10 Patients” here.