Researchers and advocates want more answers about medical marijuana’s role in epilepsy treatment

London, ON, Canada / 106.9 The X
Researchers and advocates want more answers about medical marijuana's role in epilepsy treatment

The Epilepsy Support Centre held a presentation series on medical marijuana’s use as a treatment for epilepsy at the London Public Library’s Wolf Performance Hall. Two people shared their stories of how they used medical marijuana to help their child’s severe epilepsy.

Tracy Nejim, an advocate who has a 23-year old son with Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, says her son would sometimes have more than 60 seizures a day, and that they tried 21 other methods, along with surgeries, before considering medical marijuana.

Nejim adds that while there were less seizures, along with an improvement in her son’s speech, focus and energy, she and the doctor agreed to take him off it to make sure ┬áit wasn’t related to other issues, such as a change in the types of seizures he was facing. However, she saw her son’s speech,

“I want more knowledge on how cannabis can possibly better my son’s life. I want to give it a fair and honest try, but backed with experience and legitimate knowledge. I want my doctor to feel confident in me and in any of our decisions,” she says.

Kim Martelle shares a similar story. Her 10-year old daughter faced intractable epilepsy she died from a major drop in sodium levels last June. Martelle and her husband tried every possible treatment option, including ones outside of Canada, before trying medical marijuana. She would make suppositories for her daughter, along with cannabis juice.

Martelle says her child was seizure free for the first three weeks of this treatment.

“The conventional therapy that she took was chipping away at her health every single day. It was really sad to see the decline, but it was really great to see those moments when cannabis was working for her, stem cells were working for her,” she says, “She had the best day, month, year of her life with some of those therapies.”

However, Martelle acknowledges that there is a stigma that comes with giving your child medical marijuana. “If you’re giving your child cannabis unlawfully, it could be taken away from you. You could be looked at as a delinquent parent,” she says, “Certainly, that was not our intent. Our daughter had intractable epilepsy with seizing up to 100 times some days.”

Dr. McIntyre Burnham, pharmacology professor emitrus at the University of Toronto, director of the Toronto Epilepsy Research program, and co-founder of EpLink, plans to bring a Canadian Clinical Trial for cannabidiol (CBD) and epilepsy treatment. He explains that unlike Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which has psychoactive effects, CBD does not have the same effect.

He adds consuming marijuana through oil is the best way for medical treatment. “Marijuana as an herb is not consistent. It does not stay good over time,” Burnham explains, “We’re really trying to work with drug companies to produce a medicine rather than just smoking pot.”

 

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