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In 2013, the cannabis strain “Charlotte’s Web” was rumored to help children with epilepsy have fewer seizures. Desperate parents stormed state legislatures across the country, pleading with lawmakers for access to medical marijuana. Many scientists, however, were reluctant to conclude that Charlotte’s Web — and the high doses of cannabidiol (CBD) within it — could be an effective treatment for epilepsy, until more conclusive research could be done.

Now, two studies have been released featuring clinical trials conducted in the last year on the effectiveness of CBDs to treat epilepsy in children. In both studies, children were given a drop of a pharmaceutical extract made from marijuana that concentrates CBDs, along with their regular anti-seizure medications.

In the first study, conducted at NYU Langone Medical Center, researchers found that of the 261 patients (aged 11 to 16), seizures dropped by 45%. They also found cannabidiol was most effective at combating seizures in children suffering from Davet Syndrome, one form of treatment-resistant epilepsy.

The second study, conducted at University of California Benioff Children’s Hospital, produced more mixed results — but had a much smaller sample size.

In both studies, some patients withdrew because the Cannabidiol caused no effects; in a small fraction of patients, seizures increased.

More research is expected to be released in 2016, but for parents of children with a disease that rarely responds to treatment, these initial results are hopeful.

Photo Credit: Jon Grainger

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