f you still doubt the effects of cannabis, the story of the 11-year-old Billy Caldwell will convince you that it undoubtedly relieves severe epilepsy.
And this is not the only case, as numerous families have started to use medical cannabis to treat epilepsy and experienced huge benefits.
This chronic brain disorder is characterized by multiple, recurring seizures, which are episodes of involuntary movement that might end with a loss of consciousness.
They could be mild and severe, and last for a few seconds or minutes.
Epileptic patients are at an increased risk of other health issues, mental, physical, and motor dysfunction, psychological disorders and even early death, especially if their seizures are accompanied by suffocations, heart failure, falls and injuries.
Therefore, it is a serious health issue, which is common around the world. It affects over 50 million people worldwide, with 2.4 million people diagnosed annually.
Only in the United States, 1% of the population (2.2 to 3 million people) suffer from epilepsy, and one in 26 people will develop it in their lifetime.
Fortunately, most of these cases are treatable with the use of anti-epileptic drugs (AED), such as tablets of Acetazolamide, various physical treatments or surgery, such as specialized radiation treatments or brain surgery.
Yet, most of these methods are dangerous or ineffective, but cannabis is a successful way to achieve the desired results.
Do far, the available traditional treatments of the disorder include:
- Anti-epileptic medication-which involves the oral intake of drugs such as Acetazolamide and Clobazam in order to prevent epileptic seizures.
- Focal cortical resection surgery. This is an effective method which includes the removal of the section of the brain which is responsible for the seizures, in most cases, , a small part of the temporal lobe.
- Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS). In this method, a battery-operated device is strapped to the chest, and it regularly sends electric pulses through the vagus nerve of the neck. The effects are eliminated or reduced epileptic seizures.
- A ketogenic diet. This diet is low in carbohydrates and high in fats to reduce seizures.
- Selective amygdala/hippocampus surgery.-This procedure eliminates parts of certain brain structures.
- Gamma Knife radiation- It uses specialized tools in order to non-invasively and effectively burn away epilepsy-causing brain parts.
Yet, products containing cannabis components, like CBD or THC, are being increasingly used by epilepsy patients recently. Laboratory studies have shown that both CBD and THC reduce pain and inflammation, control epileptic seizures and/or foster muscle control.
Cannabis has been the most effective treatment option for Billy Caldwell, a boy from Castlederg, Northern Ireland, who suffered from severe intractable epilepsy, an epilepsy form which cannot be treated by dietary or medicinal measures.
Prior to the treatment, the body experienced up to 100 seizures a day.
His family consulted a childhood epilepsy expert in California, and he told them that Billy could not undergo a surgery, as the removal of his left temporal lobe could severely damage his speech and memory.
Therefore, they decided to try cannabis oil, which consisted of cannabidiol (CBD), and tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), a cannabis component of cannabis which has psychoactive effects. The treatment lasted for 8 months, after which the seizures were entirely over!
His mother happily announced: “Billy is now 250 days seizure free – it’s just incredible.”
She also said that the treatment also helped with the autism of the boy, and his ankle support and eye contact.
To continue the treatment at home, they transferred the prescription overseas, and Billy became the first person to receive a prescription for medical marijuana in the United Kingdom.
Nowadays, treatments with medical marijuana are legal in Mexico, Germany, and Australia, and in the US, in 29 states and Guam, even though it is illegal on a federal level.
More than 1.2 million Americans regularly use marijuana and cannabis products to treat their diseases, and some medical cannabis products, like Dronabinol and Nabilone, are widely available to those with a prescription.
Yet, the FDA has approved very few of the marijuana medical products, due to the lack of controlled clinical trials.
However, if you need to get medical cannabis to treat epilepsy, you should check if it is legal in your state, and learn how to become a state-authorized patient.
If it is not, try to pressure policymakers to allow its use for this cause. You can join an advocacy group and do your best to get a safe access to it.
Medical cannabis is a safe and highly effective way to treat diseases and disorders, including epilepsy, so we all should try to find a way to make it available to all those who need to reap its benefits.