North Texas

Study: Cannabis Oil Can Dramatically Decrease Epileptic Seizures

There is more proof that some forms of medical marijuana can safely treat certain disorders.

The Food and Drug Administration has published results of an ongoing study that found cannabis oil can dramatically decrease the number of seizures in some epileptic children.

A Fort Worth family, who is part of the trial, says it changed their lives.

Seizures have robbed Viridiana of the ability to talk. She suffers from Dravet Syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy, that at one point caused up to 15 seizures a day.

"There was one that lasted like 25 minutes.They had to take her into the hospital by ambulance," Roberto Ortega said.

Dravet Syndrome is often fatal, and the Ortegas have tried every medication to stop the seizures, with no luck.

They've been praying for a miracle, and now there's a possible answer to their prayers.

Dr. M. Scott Perry at Cook Children's Medical Center enrolled Viridiana in the clinical trial for cannabidiol, a compound derived from marijuana plants.

Unlike THC, another derivative of cannibis, cannabidiol – or CBD – doesn't produce a high.

It's been studied before as a treatment for epilepsy with promising results.

"We don't know how it works, to be honest with you. We do know that there are cannabid receptors in the brain, but this drug doesn't seem to interact with the receptors that we know of," Perry said.

Now comes the first hard proof that it can help children with Dravet syndrome, which has no treatment.

During the trial, it stopped seizures in almost half the participants.

"I think its very exciting. Cannabidiol has been a very hot topic throughout its use. This is real the first hard evidence that shows that it can be effective," Perry said.

Viridiana has suffered fewer than three seizures in the last six months.

For the first time in years, she is trying to speak.

"That's amazing for us, you know, see some progress like this," Roberto Ortega said.

The drug is still in the trial phases.

In its December regulatory action, the Drug Enforcement Agency reiterated that CBD is considered an illegal substance.

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