“Parents are becoming more aware of the use of cannabis to treat epilepsy from social media and parent support groups,” University of Alberta pediatric epileptologist Richard Tang-Wai declared.
“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-Wait, who is partnering with University of Saskatchewan pediatric neurologist Richard Huntsman, intends to conduct a study on how the marijuana component cannabidiol (CBD) can be used to treat children with epilepsy.
Those who conduct research at the University of Alberta, University of Saskatchewan, the University of British Columbia, Université de Montréal, and McGill University are implementing alternative methods of treatment for 30 children up to age 10 who have been diagnosed with epilepsy.
“Many of these children have adverse reactions to any of the treatments that we offer and they suffer significant side effects from them,” Huntsman said. “I believe we owe it to these children and their families to look at all potential treatment options, including cannabis-based products, if they can offer any hope of helping.”
Tang-Wai stated that some families are even going as far as to utilize unapproved treatments that utilize CBD.
“These are good parents, but they have children with hard to control epilepsy. They were desperate.”
Despite the controversy that surrounds the treatment, there is evidence resulted from animal studies that CBD has positive effects on epilepsy. While it is suggested that CBD could benefit humans with epilepsy, there is no conclusive data regarding the dosage or side effects of CBD.
Tang-Wait emphasizes that just because something is naturally occurring does not mean that it can be safely consumed.
Researchers quickly found out that growers who provide them with samples of CBD oil for research do not always adhere to pharmaceutical standards. Therefore, product obtained from one grower may be inconsistent with the next.
Tang-Wai has high hopes for his study, which aims to establish a precedent of what amount and aspects of CBD is safe to utilize, and also prove that the oil is capable of improving the quality of life for children who are diagnosed with epilepsy.