May 27, 2017

Marijuana oil reduces seizures from rare form of epilepsy

Ted S. Warren/AP

An oil found in marijuana plants reduces seizures in young people suffering from Dravet syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy affecting over 3 million people in the U.S., according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Cannabidiol cut the average number of monthly seizures from 12.9 to 5.4.

Cannabidiol is not psychoactive or addictive. Researchers say that the compound binds to a receptor in the brain and makes the nerve cell linked to seizures less active.

Why it matters: There currently is no FDA-approved treatment for Dravet. While medical marijuana has long been shown to treat epilepsy, this is the first controlled study to document the scientific benefits, the lead researcher told the Washington Post.

What's next: GW Pharmaceuticals, the founders behind the research, plan to seek approval for the drug from the FDA next year. The goal is to have it available by prescription in 2018.

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