A study just out in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) reports that cannabidiol, one of the active compounds in cannabis, reduces monthly convulsive seizure rates in children and young adults with Dravet syndrome by half.

Dravet syndrome is an uncommon epilepsy condition that is traced to a genetic source in 8 out of 10 people who have it. Children with Dravet develop typically in their first year but then begin to have major seizures, which can last for minutes and even lead to a life-threatening situation known as status epilepticus, when seizures go on 30 minutes or more. Before the syndrome was defined, it was classified as different forms of severe epilepsy. It can be fatal, and a fifth of people with Dravet die before they turn 20 because of their seizures.

In the clinical trial results published in NEJM, half of the 120 participants were assigned to cannibidiol and the other half to placebo. Which participants were in which group was not known to them, their families or the researchers. After a four-week period to establish baseline seizure rates for the group, the treatment or placebo was administered for 14 weeks.

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