Article by Dale Carruthers, London Free Press
Frequent queries from patients about the potential for cannabis oil to treat their seizures has prompted London neurologist Seyed Mirsattari to study its effectiveness.
The recent surge in anecdotal stories touting the potential therapeutic benefits of cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive component in cannabis, is boosting interest in the drug, said Mirsattari, a professor at Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry.
But CBD-using individuals with epilepsy – a disease that affects one per cent of the population globally – take their doses differently and source it from various places, including the black market, Mirsattari said.
“Some of them smoke, some of them drink, some of them put it in cookies. There’s no consistency out there, but on the other hand, there’s a huge amount of interest,” he said of CBD.
“So, that was the incentive of why we need to formally study it.”
Mirsattari has teamed up with researchers at the University of Toronto to explore whether CBD, combined with a low dose of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the component of cannabis that produces the euphoric high, decreases the number of seizure in adults with drug-resistant epilepsy.
“Of the patients who have epilepsy, about one-third of them fail to respond to medications,” Mirsattari said.
Surgery is another option to treat seizures – the London Health Sciences Centre has one of only a handful of epilepsy surgery centres in Canada – but it doesn’t work for everyone, Mirsattari said.
“So, that leaves us with a larger group of patients with what we call unmet needs,” he said.
A group of 80 men and women – 40 receiving treatment, 40 assigned to a control group – are participating in the 18-week study. Participants will be given 330 mg dose with a 16-to-one CBD-to-THC ratio, in addition to their regular anti-epileptic drugs.