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18 September 2013

Could cannabis offer hope for seizure control?

Researchers  looking at new ways to treat epilepsy have started drug trials in humans (18 September)  using compounds, known as cannabinoids, found in cannabis. GW Pharmaceuticals and scientists at the University of Reading are hopeful that the cannabinoids, could offer new medication for people with hard to treat seizures that do not respond to conventional anti epileptic drugs (AEDs).

Epilepsy Society's medical director Professor Ley Sander said the potential for cannabinoids to offer an alternative treatment for people who do not respond to conventional AEDs was promising. However, he warned  that more research was necessary to ensure the long-term efficacy and safety of the drugs.

'Clinical trials will need to be set up to test the tolerability of cannabinoids in people with epilepsy as well as to test for any potential interactions with other drugs,' said Professor Sander.

He also stressed it was important to remember the dangers of smoking cannabis. 'Although some people say cannabis may have helped their epilepsy, we need to remember that the cannabinoids being considered as potential treatment for epilepsy are not present in street cannabis.' 

Read more about this research in Epilepsy Society's magazine  Epilepsy Review