As desperate parents of children with severe epilepsy turn to alternative therapies, researchers are launching a study examining the efficacy and safety of treating seizures with medical marijuana products.
“Parents are becoming more aware of the use of cannabis to treat epilepsy from social media and parent support groups,” said Richard Tang-Wai, a pediatric epileptologist at the University of Alberta.
“Because there is little scientific evidence regarding the use of cannabis products in children, most physicians are reluctant to prescribe them, resulting in parents trying to make their own preparations at home or turning to suppliers who cannot verify the quality of their product. This adds to the urgency of doing studies like this.”
Tang-Wai is partnering with Richard Huntsman, a pediatric neurologist at the University of Saskatchewan, to lead a study to determine how cannabidiol (CBD), a chemical compound found in marijuana, could change the quality of life for children suffering from severe epilepsy and what interactions CBD oils could have with other approved treatments for epilepsy.
Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan, University of Alberta, the University of British Columbia, McGill University and the Université de Montréal are recruiting 30 children up to age 10 who suffer from epilepsy severe enough to cause cognitive impairment that can’t be controlled with existing medical treatments.