Medical Marijuana for Epilepsy:
Medical cannabis, or medical marijuana, can refer to the use of cannabis and its cannabinoids to treat disease or improve symptoms; however, there is no single agreed upon definition. The use of cannabis as a medicine has not been rigorously scientifically tested, often due to production restrictions and other governmental regulations. There is limited evidence suggesting cannabis can be used to reduce nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy, to improve appetite in people with HIV/AIDS, and to treat chronic pain and muscle spasms. Its use for other medical applications, however, is insufficient for conclusions about safety or efficacy.
Short-term use increases the risk of both minor and major adverse effects. Common side effects include dizziness, feeling tired, vomiting, and hallucinations. Long-term effects of cannabis are not clear. Concerns include memory and cognition problems, risk of addiction, schizophrenia in young people, and the risk of children taking it by accident.
The Cannabis plant has a history of medicinal use dating back thousands of years across many cultures. Its current use is controversial. The American Medical Association, the Minnesota Medical Association, the American Society of Addiction Medicine, and other medical organizations have issued statements opposing its use for medicinal purposes. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that while cannabinoids may have potential as therapy for a number of medical conditions, they do not recommend it until more research is done. They, along with the American Medical Association and the Minnesota Medical Association, call for moving cannabis out of DEA Schedule I to facilitate this research.
Medical cannabis can be administered using a variety of methods, including liquid tinctures, vaporizing or smoking dried buds, eating cannabis edibles, taking capsules, using lozenges, dermal patches or oral/dermal sprays. Synthetic cannabinoids are available as prescription drugs in some countries; examples include: dronabinol and nabilone. Recreational use of cannabis is illegal in most parts of the world, but the medical use of cannabis is legal in certain countries, including Austria, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands (where it is also legal recreationally), Portugal and Spain. Australia is currently in the process of passing a law which would allow the use of marijuana for medical and scientific purposes. In the United States, federal law outlaws all cannabis use, while 25 states and the District of Columbia no longer prosecute individuals for the possession or sale of medical marijuana, as long as the individuals are in compliance with the state’s medical marijuana sale regulations. However, an appeals court ruled in January 2014 that a 2007 Ninth Circuit ruling remains binding in relation to the ongoing illegality, in federal legislative terms, of Californian cannabis dispensaries, reaffirming the impact of the federal Controlled Substances Act.
There is insufficient data to draw strong conclusions about the safety of medical cannabis. Typically, adverse effects of medical cannabis use are not serious. These include: tiredness, dizziness, cardiovascular and psychoactive effects. Tolerance to these effects develops over a period of days or weeks. The amount of cannabis normally used for medicinal purposes is not believed to cause any permanent cognitive impairment in adults, though long-term treatment in adolescents should be weighed carefully as they are more susceptible to these impairments. Withdrawal symptoms are rarely a problem with controlled medical administration of cannabinoids. The ability to drive vehicle or operating machinery may be impaired until a tolerance is developed. Although supporters of medical cannabis say that it is safe, further research is required to assess the long-term safety of its use.
The efficacy of cannabis in treating neurological problems, including multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and movement problems, is not clear. Studies of the efficacy of cannabis for treating multiple sclerosis have produced varying results. The combination of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) extracts give subjective relief of spasticity, though objective post-treatment assessments do not reveal significant changes. Evidence also suggests that oral cannabis extract is effective for reducing patient-centered measures of spasticity. A trial of cannabis is deemed to be a reasonable option if other treatments have not been effective. Its use for MS is approved in ten countries. A 2012 review found no problems with tolerance, abuse or addiction.
A 2016 review in the New England Journal of Medicine said that although there was a lot of hype and anecdotes surrounding medical cannabis and epilepsy, “current data from studies in humans are extremely limited, and no conclusions can be drawn”. The mechanisms by which cannabis may be effective in the treatment of epilepsy remain unclear.
Some reasons for the lack of clinical research have been the introduction of new synthetic and more stable pharmaceutical anticonvulsants, the recognition of important adverse side effects, and legal restrictions to the use of cannabis-derived medicines – although in December 2015, the DEA (United States Drug Enforcement Administration) has eased some of the regulatory requirements for conducting FDA-approved clinical trials on cannabidiol (CBD).
Epidiolex, a cannabis-based product developed by GW Pharmaceuticals for experimental treatment of epilepsy, underwent stage-two trials in the US in 2014. Pairs of phase 3 trials for Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome have begun and should be completed in 2015. They are also running a phase 2 study of non-psychoactive cannabidivarin.
History / Ancient
Cannabis, called má 麻 (meaning “hemp; cannabis; numbness”) or dàmá 大麻 (with “big; great”) in Chinese, was used in Taiwan for fiber starting about 10,000 years ago. The botanist Hui-lin Li wrote that in China, “The use of Cannabis in medicine was probably a very early development. Since ancient humans used hemp seed as food, it was quite natural for them to also discover the medicinal properties of the plant.” Emperor Shen-Nung, who was also a pharmacologist, wrote a book on treatment methods in 2737 BCE that included the medical benefits of cannabis. He recommended the substance for many ailments, including constipation, gout, rheumatism, and absent-mindedness. Cannabis is one of the 50 “fundamental” herbs in traditional Chinese medicine.
The Ebers Papyrus (ca. 1550 BCE) from Ancient Egypt describes medical cannabis. The ancient Egyptians used hemp (cannabis) in suppositories for relieving the pain of hemorrhoids.
Surviving texts from ancient India confirm that cannabis’ psychoactive properties were recognized, and doctors used it for treating a variety of illnesses and ailments, including insomnia, headaches, gastrointestinal disorders, and pain, including during childbirth.
The Ancient Greeks used cannabis to dress wounds and sores on their horses, and in humans, dried leaves of cannabis were used to treat nose bleeds, and cannabis seeds were used to expel tapeworms.
In the medieval Islamic world, Arabic physicians made use of the diuretic, antiemetic, antiepileptic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antipyretic properties of Cannabis sativa, and used it extensively as medication from the 8th to 18th centuries.
*ALL information gathered above is from Wikipedia. Wikipedia is NOT responsible for any miss use or miss understanding of ALL information above. The information above is meant to help inform and educate about Epilepsy.