Cannabidiol (CBD), a purified compound derived from marijuana, may help reduce seizure frequency for patients with severe, treatment-resistant epilepsy. Researchers from NYU Langone Medical Centre in New York City claim that the latest findings provide the first estimates of the safety, tolerability and efficacy of prescription CBD for children and adults.

CBD is a natural compound in marijuana and is known to affect the brain. From 30 seizures a month, patients who added 99 percent CBD oil to their current treatments have only experienced fewer than 16 seizures a month in just 12 weeks, a 37 percent decrease.

Lead author Orrin Devinsky notes that CBD does not produce a high. The CBD used in the research was a solution of the extract in oil called Epidiolex from GW Pharmaceuticals. The drug is currently being evaluated by the US Food and Drug Administration, Reuters reports.

“We are very encouraged by our trial results showing that CBD was safe and well-tolerated for most patients, and that seizures dropped significantly,” Devinsky said in a press release. “But before we raise hopes for families who regularly deal with the devastation of treatment-resistant epilepsy, more research, including further studies through our ongoing randomised controlled trial, are needed to definitively recommend CBD as a treatment to patients with uncontrolled seizures.”

The researchers gave oral CBD treatment to 214 patients over a 12-week period. A 36.5 percent reduction in monthly seizures was observed. 22 percent of the participants reported at least 70 percent reduction, and 8 percent of patients had their seizures reduced by at least 90 percent.

Other experts said that the results indicate there may be better outcomes among people taking CBD and the other popular epilepsy drug, clobazam. However, this study lays the foundation for future research.

Devinsky is currently leading double-blind randomised controlled trials, which are considered the gold standard of scientific research, to provide more information about CBD’s efficacy and side effects. Devinsky’s team expects the trials to be completed by February 2016.

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