When it comes to cannabis’ benefits for health conditions, seizures come to mind for many people thanks to CNN’s 2013 “Charlotte’s Web” special and other media coverage of families that report improvements in children with epilepsy with cannabis oil use. Thus far, the mainstream medical community has been cautious about such reports, but early results from two small studies presented at the American Epilepsy Society’s annual meeting in December are promising.

“The first study, led by Orrin Devinsky, director of the comprehensive epilepsy center at NYU Langone Medical Center, involved giving a drop of liquid cannabidiol (CBD), a key component of marijuana, to 261 patients with severe epilepsy for three months. The participants, most of whom were children with an average age of 11 and were at 16 different sites around the country, continued to take their regular anti-seizure medications as well. By the end of that time period, their seizures were reduced by 45 percent on average.

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Devinsky’s study did report some side effects: 5 percent of patients experienced changes in their liver enzymes or diarrhea. And 12 percent stopped taking the medication during the study because it didn’t appear to help. Results from a second small study were more mixed. More research on cannabis and seizures is certainly needed. Case studies and anecdotal evidence of benefits are generally supportive of benefits ranging from less anxiety, improved wellbeing, and fewer seizures.

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