A supplement derived from cannabis halves the risk of suffering a seizure in 44 percent of epilepsy sufferers, new research suggests.
Taking cannabidiol (CBD) alongside the commonly-prescribed medication clobazam also makes 10 percent of epilepsy patients drug-free, a US study found.
The dual treatment also enables up to 26 percent of sufferers to reduce their medications’ doses, the research adds.
Introducing CBD into epilepsy patients’ drug regimens also makes 14 percent feel more alert and better able to communicate, the study found.
CBD is a cannabis-derived nutritional supplement that is thought to possess a range of medicinal benefits and has been reported to help people suffering from migraines, psoriasis, acne and depression.
It does not contain any THC, which is the psychoactive component of cannabis that makes users ‘high’.
Nearly one in three epilepsy patients are resistant to existing treatments and continue to suffer seizures.
How the research was carried out
The researchers, from Vanderbilt University, analyzed the medical records of 108 pediatric epilepsy patients, which were collected between January 2006 and December 2016.
The study’s participants were separated according to whether they took CBD, clobazam or both.
Their seizure frequency was assessed.
The findings were reported in the journal Epilepsy & Behavior.
Alcohol damages the brain more than cannabis
This comes after research released earlier this month suggested alcohol damages the brain more than cannabis.
Unlike booze, marijuana does not affect the size or integrity of white or grey matter in the brain, even after years of exposure, a study found.
Grey matter enables the brain to function, while white controls communication between nerve clusters.
Study author Professor Kent Hutchison from the University of Colorado Boulder, said: ‘While marijuana may also have some negative consequences, it definitely is nowhere near the negative consequences of alcohol.’
The scientists add, however, research into cannabis’ mental effects are still very limited.
Lead author Rachel Thayer said: ‘Particularly with marijuana use, there is still so much that we don’t know about how it impacts the brain.’
In the US, 44 percent of those aged 12 or over have used cannabis at some point in their lives.
Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska and Colorado have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use.