Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, recently stepped forward to help clarify some of the misinformation circling marijuana and cannabidiol. As one of the world’s top experts on the application and misuse of cannabis and research, Volkow believes “what we can say with certainty is that cannabis contains active ingredients with potential therapeutic properties. In fact, the FDA has already approved medicines based on THC for the treatment of wasting syndrome and to control nausea in chemotherapy patients.”
While it may be a surprise to some that the FDA has actually approved products recognizing some of the positive aspects of THC, what shouldn’t come as a surprise is the support behind cannabidiol (CBD).
“There is also a great deal of interest in developing medications based on another constituent of the cannabis plant called cannabidiol” Volkow believes. “CBD, which does not give users the classic ‘high,’ has shown some promise in controlling seizures in children with severe forms of epilepsy (including Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut syndromes), and preliminary trials of a CBD-based drug are underway by GW Pharmaceuticals. There are likely many more applications for these other cannabinoids that are supported by a scientific rationale and some intriguing preliminary results that warrant more research.”
This support comes as encouraging stories continue to make headlines. At Camp Candlelight in Prescott, Arizona, 11 year old Mercedes Gonzalez became the the first child to legally use cannabis oil for treating her epilepsy. Its reported that she began suffering from epilepsy at the early age of 3, but thanks to a high-CBD strain of medical marijuana, the frequency of her seizures reduced so much she was able to attend summer camp for the first time this year.
Over the course of her illness, Mercedes had been given 23 anti-epileptic drugs and even a Vagus Nerve Stimulator — a device similar to a pacemaker that emits pulses of electricity to prevent or stop seizures — but nothing seemed to help her.
“She was a total zombie. She was so drugged out she could not stay awake. There were some that made her hallucinate,” said Yolanda Daniels, Mercedes’ grandmother and legal guardian.
In Perth, Australia, Joelle Neville, mother of an epileptic daughter, suffered from the same trial and errors. It took more than 20 anti-epileptic medications until Neville found hemp cbd oil worked as a treatment for her daughter. Her daughter Ava’s progress prompted her mum to make a submission to the current federal inquiry into medicinal cannabis.
Without treatment, Ava could experience up to 20 seizures a day. Today, thanks to hemp oil, that has been reduced to about two seizures a day. Neville said 10-year-old Ava’s cognitive abilities had doubled since last year and she now reads at a six-year-old level – an achievement that has left her teachers dumbfounded.
“It’s miraculous, really. She’s calm and attentive but she’s certainly not high,” Ms Neville said.
The drug has been life-changing for the family, who previously had lived off five hours of broken sleep each night for the past five years due to Ava’s seizures.
The National Epilepsy Foundation is also supportive of these families who have found this solution to reducing seizures. They are pro-medical marijuana and are asking federal and state governments to reverse their stance on the drug.
Its statement read: “If a patient and their healthcare professionals feel that the potential benefits of medical marijuana for uncontrolled epilepsy outweigh the risks, then families need to have that legal option now — not in five years or 10 years. For people living with severe uncontrolled epilepsy, time is not on their side.”