About 14% of epilepsy sufferers in Australia use medicinal cannabis to control their seizures when antiepileptic drugs have side effects and are not tolerated, and when their epilepsy cannot be controlled in another way, reveals the first national poll to investigate people’s experiences and views on cannabis use.
The poll showed that 90% of those who used cannabis to manage their seizures and 71% of parents who used it to control their child’s epilepsy reported having good results.
The study, published in the scientific journal Epilepsy & Behaviour, was conducted on a sample of 976 people and looked at the use of cannabis and its products, the reasons for use and the benefits of use, as perceived by the users themselves or their caregivers.
The study showed that:
-15% of adults suffering from epilepsy and 13% of parents/guardians of children with epilepsy use, or have used in the past, cannabis products in the treatment of epilepsy.
-In all respondents, the main reasons for using cannabis products were to obtain a more favorable side effects profile from their treatment, compared to conventional anticonvulsants.
-The number of antiepileptic drugs taken was an important factor in the prognosis of medical cannabis use in both adults and children with epilepsy.
“Despite the limitations of the retrospective on-line study, we cannot ignore that a significant percentage of adults and children with epilepsy use cannabis-based products, and that many report significant benefits to their condition,” said research leader Anastasia Surayev from the Institute of Lambert.
“Cannabis products are often what people with epilepsy turn to when they cannot control their condition with conventional drugs,” noted the study’s second author Carol Eyrland.
“This highlights the growing need to educate consumers of health professionals about the use of cannabis by people with epilepsy, and to provide safe and timely access to cannabinoids in order to reduce people’s dependence on illegal products that are on the black market,” he added.