CBD may be able to decrease the number and severity of seizures among those suffering from Dravet syndrome, according to a new study from the University of Washington.

Dravet syndrome is a serious form of childhood epilepsy that can lead to cognitive impairments, autistic-like behaviors, and early death.

“It’s a very serious matter for the children and their families and their caregivers,” said William Catterall, a lead researcher and professor, and former chair of UW pharmacology. “It’s a huge burden on the healthcare system. Even though it’s a small number of people, they require lifelong care.”   

Numerous labs under the UW Department of Pharmacology worked together to conduct a preclinical trial looking at CBD and Dravet syndrome in mice.

The researchers found that the mice had shorter, fewer, and less severe seizures with the administration of CBD. The mice also experienced a reduction in autism-like social interaction problems.

“If you’re able to get the seizures under control, these kids [with Dravet syndrome] are still left with a whole bunch of other challenging disorders,” said Joshua Kaplan, lead scientist.

“No one has looked at autism [in Dravet syndrome], at least scientifically … That’s one of things we’re the first to show, even in a preclinical model, that [cannabidiol] could be an effective treatment for autism.”

The study was prompted by anecdotal testimonies from parents of children with Dravet syndrome, who praised marijuana’s effectiveness in treating the disease.

“These families who are trying to treat their children, this is not their first line of treatment,” Kaplan said. “They have tried other things and nothing works, so that’s why they turn to cannabis. It’s not because they’re just trying to get their kids high.”

The researchers must now test to see whether humans experience the same benefits as the mice, which could take several years.

That said, this is far from the first study to find a link between cannabis and a reduction in seizures.

h/t The Daily UW