Many wonder if there is really any redeeming benefit from cannabis. Well, let the children lead the way. Let me explain. There are children suffering from Dravet Syndrome, a rare, severe seizure disorder that strikes during infancy. There is hope for them from a Cannabis strain high in cannabidiol or CBD.
Some children with severe seizure disorders are unresponsive to conventional medication. During seizures, they suffer from loss of oxygen to the brain, can have falls and other injuries. They also must take medications that have many side effects. Now comes the interesting medical cannabis story. Charlotte Figi’s story is posted on the web, including an extensive article by CNN. Charlotte Figi appeared to be a normal healthy baby, until seizures started at age three months. Some of her seizures lasted 2-4 hours. The seizures progressed to include muscle spasms, which left her body in pain. They did not stop. The frequency and severity continued to increase, leading to daily use of a combination of multiple powerful anti-seizure medications. She had frequent emergency admissions to the hospital pediatric intensive care unit (ICU). The seizures continued despite multiple treatments. She was finally diagnosed with Dravet Syndrome, a gene-linked disorder that causes severe treatment-resistant seizures, starting during infancy. The trauma to the brain from frequent seizures gives inadequate time for brain cells to recover. This, along with multiple high potency meds, including narcotics, takes its toll on the child’s ability to develop and function.
She fortunately has responded to cannabidiol (CBD), one of the phyto-chemicals in the Charlotte’s Web strain of cannabis. This strain is low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is psychoactive—that means it gets you high. THC is also detrimental to brain development and functioning in children. Children take CBD as a concentrated oil-like extract. It does not appear to cause impairment in thinking due to intoxication. The parents tell reporters she is now having one seizure a day instead of multiple or long lasting seizures. No serious negative effects have been reported thus far. Before CBD, it was not uncommon for her to have 30 seizures a day. This extract is made by the medical marijuana dispensary in Colorado owned by the Stanley brothers. It appears to be a compassionate undertaking that has made a difference for over 180 children who have used their extract.
Now, comes the difficult part. In addressing treatment needs and safety for anyone with a severe, life threatening health challenge, often some are willing to push the safety and proof “envelope” to provide relief and comfort. It’s one thing to look at a large number of studies in a journal, and another to look at the patient in front of you, suffering, without any good options, requesting a controversial or unproven treatment….