cannabidiol oil eases pain, CBD oil, drug derived from cannabis

After thousands of years of medicinal use, we now have irrefutable evidence that cannabis works to control epilepsy. The most prestigious medical journal in the world, The New England Journal of Medicine (May 25, 2017), has just published a study demonstrating the effectiveness of cannabidiol against epilepsy.

Medical Marijuana: The Back Story:

Orrin Devinsky, MD, was the lead author of the study. He is a neurologist and epilepsy expert. He directs the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at the NYU Langone Comprehensive Epilepsy-Sleep Institute. In a previous article (New England Journal of Medicine, Sept. 10, 2015), he pointed out that, even with all our modern drugs, 30% of people with epilepsy continue to have seizures.

In that article he notes that:

“Cannabis has been used medicinally for millennia and was used in the treatment of epilepsy as early as 1800 B.C.E. in Sumeria. Victorian-era neurologists used Indian hemp to treat epilepsy and reported dramatic success.”

Modern medicine has been reluctant to test medical marijuana. For one thing, there has been little, if any, funding. Then there are all the cultural taboos. Researchers are generally a conservative group. They often fear being chastised, or worse, being laughed at by their colleagues. Studying the health benefits of marijuana compounds has been a third rail for many investigators.

Dr. Devinsky is so respected, however, that he seemingly had no fear tackling this thorny problem. As he pointed out in his NEJM paper back in 2015, “More than 545 distinct compounds have been isolated from cannabis species.” He went on to describe cannabidiol (CBD) as a “nonpsychoactive cannabinoid.” In other words, it doesn’t make people high the way THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) does.

Cannabidiol “alters neuronal excitability” according to Dr. Devinsky. In addition to the ancient Sumerians and Victorian-era neurologists, there have been many modern-day case reports of success with both THC and cannabidiol. But such anecdotes do not convince most physicians. That is why Dr. Devinsky’s scientific study is so compelling.

What Devinsky and Colleagues Did:


“In this double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, we randomly assigned 120 children and young adults with the Dravet syndrome and drug-resistant seizures to receive either cannabidiol oral solution at a dose of 20 mg per kilogram of body weight per day or placebo, in addition to standard antiepileptic treatment. The primary end point was the change in convulsive-seizure frequency over a 14-week treatment period, as compared with a 4-week baseline period.”

Dravet syndrome is a “catastrophic” hard-to-treat kind of epilepsy that starts in childhood. It is manifested by different kinds of seizures and can lead to behavioral problems, developmental delays, language difficulties and a variety of other neurological issues. There are no FDA-approved drugs for Dravet syndrome.

The study results were clear:

“The percentage of patients who had at least a 50% reduction in convulsive- seizure frequency was 43% with cannabidiol and 27% with placebo.”

Although not a huge number, 5% of the patients became seizure free on cannabidiol. None of the patients on placebo became seizure free.

Side Effects of Cannabidiol:

Dr. Devinsky and his colleagues noted that cannabidiol caused “somnolence” in 36% of the cannabidiol group compared to 10% in the placebo group. That means the children were sleepy and lethargic. Other adverse reactions included vomiting, upper respiratory tract infections, reduced appetite and diarrhea.

The Future of Marijuana Research:

Perhaps this study, published in such a prestigious medical journal, will stimulate other investigators to explore the therapeutic benefits of cannabis. There are already numerous reports that compounds in marijuana may help ease nerve (neuropathic) pain.

To learn more about medical marijuana, you may wish to listen to our free one-hour radio interview with David Casarett, MD.

Show 1027: How One Doctor Changed His Mind about Medical Marijuana (Archive)

We think this radio show will provide you a balanced perspective on this controversial topic. It is free. You can listen to the streaming audio by clicking on the green arrow inside the black circle above the photo of Dr. Casarett. You can also download the mp3 version to your computer or smart phone for free and listen at your leisure.

Let us know your thoughts about medical marijuana in the comment section below.

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  1. Barbara K.

    North Carolina does need medical marijuana. (There are too many deaths from opioids).

  2. david

    Humboldt, Lake and Trinity counties are California’s emerald triangle. The public health statistics published by the state show them to be some of the most unhealthy counties in California. We keep hearing about anti-tumor properties, but the cancer age adjusted death rates for emerald counties are some of the highest in the state.

    If pot is effective against tumors with 1,000,000,000 cells, surely it would be more effective against tumors with 100 cells. If those claims were true, cancers would be halted at an early stage and remain subclinical, but this is not the case.

  3. Sue

    I’ve had epilepsy for 45 yrs. and had 2 brain surgeries to help reduce my seizures. I’ve tried over 10 different seizure meds and then I had a DNA test to find I was drug resistant. My Dr. put me
    on medical marijuana (CBD) in 2016 and my seizures have decreased at least 40% if not more.
    CBD has also helped me with headaches and back pain. If a person can’t get the right meds to help them try the CBD.

  4. Jeff
    San Antonio, TX

    This is good news! But, until we defund the DEA and the other anti cannabis laws this is fighting against the tide. The many uses of hemp and cannabis can be used are being proven in many other countries that do not prohibit the growing of this plant.

    There many medical studies done all over the world, in fact, an Israeli researcher isolated the active ingredients of cannabis. The many reasons it is not legal here is because of the smearing by yellow journalism and collusion by Harry Anslinger in the 1930s and the passage of the tax act of 1937.

    The Congress mostly did not know that marijuana was the cousin of the hemp plant and they both were outlawed at the same time. This whole story is told in “The Emperor Wears No Clothes” by Jack Herrer.

  5. Lynn

    I have chronic pain from a damaged shoulder that surgeons don’t want to attempt to repair (short of a shoulder replacement), as well as muscle pain from Sjogren’s Syndrome and joint pain from arthritis. Doctors have tried me on just about all of the prescription drugs in their arsenal, which either didn’t work or had unacceptable side effects.

    Medical cannabis–particularly in edible forms–is the only thing that’s effective for me. I use the high-THC variety, not CBD; the latter makes me drowsy and doesn’t seem to work as well. (The only down side is that an effective dose makes me high enough not to try to work or drive on it, though there is some carry-over effect to the next day, so I don’t have to take it all the time.) Cannabis should be available to all, and hopefully will be soon.

  6. louise

    Have stage 4 lung cancer I believe Medical marijuana will help me. Any thoughts on the subject?

  7. Bob R

    In Florida, medical marijuana was approved by a public referendum. The legislature is stalling, reluctant to specify rules concerning growing and distribution. Legislators depend upon campaign contributions. Influencing legislators are lobbyists representing organizations that depend upon the present illegality for their income. These would be private prison corporations, pharmaceutical corporations, drug enforcement, lawyers, judges, and rehabilitation organizations.

    Money is the root of the problem, enabled by the Citizen’s United decision permitting these large contributions. Legislators are no longer supporting the best interests of their constituents but instead represent the top 1%.

    • Penelope
      Pinellas County FL

      Bob R is SO right. The 2017 Florida legislature failed to come up with legislative implementation of an amendment that 70% of the voters approved in the last election! The FL legislature is a classic case of why term limits are so awful–the legislators have no chance to develop their own expertise and are in the pockets of all sorts of special interests who are more than happy to “educate” them for their own profit!

  8. James
    Hardy Co, WV

    Since it takes ”at least 17 years” for the brain of an infant to become 100% fully grown & developed, I cannot for the life of me, see how medical marijuana has been labeled SAFE to use, when nobody ever says or tells the dangers of using this on innocent children, or adults over 21. At 7 months old, I was taking the so called SAFE AED’s and am still taking the worthless drugs today, as I still have seizures. I know those drugs I was on in the 1960’s & 70’s are the reason I have the GRAND MAL seizures today from food chemicals, (even as petit mals happened from food chemicals then in those years ), as my brain is more sensitive to these toxic food chemicals than ever in my life, and the drugs will not or have never stopped the seizures from happening in over 56 years. I can thank ALL neurologists & the drug industry for this. They all have arrogantly IGNORED this root cause for seizures of all types, all for that glorified dollar. They deserve a lifetime behind bars, with seizures of course.

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