Medical cannabis has been recently adopted in alleviating symptoms and treating some diseases. However, much debate has emanated regarding the use of cannabis in the medical sector. Notably, most of these arguments regard the effectiveness of marijuana as an alternative medicine. It is also essential to mention that there are legal aspects associated with the use of medical cannabis. They derive from the premise that some states in the USA and other countries around the globe have not allowed marijuana to be medically used. In this context, the argument regards whether marijuana appears to be a more effective treatment of epilepsy than the traditional modern-day medicines. This paper utilizes various researches on the effectiveness of marijuana as treatment for epilepsy. Some scholars assert that there is no sufficient evidence to draw conclusions regarding the efficacy and safety of cannabinoids in treating epilepsy. However, few studies have been carried out concerning the anticonvulsive properties of cannabinoids in relation to epileptic disorders. One of the researches also indicates that the introduction of new synthetic and more stable pharmaceutical anticonvulsants has hindered clinical research on cannabinoids. Additionally, it is alluded that cannabioid has adverse effects. Currently, there is a research carried out on a cannabis-based product regarding the treatment of epilepsy. GW Pharmaceuticals is accredited for coming up with the cannabis-based product.
This research focuses on the effectiveness of marijuana in the treatment of epilepsy in comparison to traditional modern medicines.
According to Brothers (2005), people in the countries where medical marijuana is legal have recorded beneficial effects from its use. Decrease in seizure activity is one of the recorded benefits of medical marijuana in relation to treatment of epilepsy. It should be noted that doctors who support the use of medical marijuana have continuously prescribed it as a part of treatment of epilepsy, which is one disease from the long list of disorders whereby marijuana is expected to be helpful (Ernst, 2002). A critical point to note is that several states in the USA have permitted the prescription of marijuana as a treatment for epilepsy.
Research asserts that there is not enough scientific literature to support the abovementioned statements (Institute of Medicine, 1999). However, there is a single randomized controlled clinical trial, which shows the effectiveness of marijuana use for the treatment of epilepsy in humans. According to the research, randomized controlled clinical trials can be perceived as tests whereby some people take the active placebo without the knowledge of the pill while some take the active medication. This appears as one of the prerequisites of new FDA-approved medications (Kalla & Joshi, 2004). From this experiment, it is found out that studies on animals regarding the effectiveness of marijuana in the treatment of epilepsy showed positive results. For instance, it is asserted that THC has the potential of controlling seizures that do not respond to other forms of treatments. However, it is important to note that not all studies conducted on animals reflect what occurs in humans. THC is an active ingredient found in marijuana and is labeled as 9-THC or tetrahydrocannabinol.
On the other hand, some researches reveal that THC has the potential to trigger seizures in addition to other adverse psychoactive effects such as depression and psychosis, which can also result from the usage of marijuana (Shashi, Jangra, & Yadav, 2014). Another implication relating to the use of marijuana as a treatment of epilepsy regards the withdrawal effects associated with seizure activity, which have not been studied. Research confirms that a person can face a higher risk of suffering from seizures due to the metabolization of marijuana because of the sudden stoppage of using the drug. Another point regarding the effectiveness of marijuana in the treatment of epilepsy concerns the effect that it has on antiepileptic medications thus leading to the increase in seizure or toxic side effects (Shorvon, Perucca, & Jerome Engel, 2009). One more thing that reveals ineffectiveness of marijuana as an alternative to traditional medicine in the treatment of epilepsy regards the fact that the drug has the potential of affecting memory. Research confirms that many antiepileptic medications have this effect, which is thought to be one of the causes why an epileptic individual misses their medication doses; thus, increasing the risks of seizures. Finally, it is indicated that using marijuana can result in lung complications. It also confirms ineffectiveness of the drug for the treatment of epilepsy.
Research on traditional modern medicines employed in the treatment of epilepsy also reveals that there are some negative impacts associated with them. For instance, a research on traditional Chinese medicine utilized in treating epilepsy indicates that 20 percent of those products contain harmful neurotoxic materials such as mercury, lead and arsenic, which can further lead to seizures (Shorvon, Perucca, & Jerome Engel, 2009). Some of these drugs include eucalyptus, shankhapusphi, star fruit, anise, and sage. It is also indicated that traditional medicines such as shankhapusphi can alter the response to AED treatment even when the accepted therapeutic doses are employed. Further research also confirms that it is difficult to compute herbal formulas, because such medicines usually contain myriad of herbs, which makes it hard to ascertain the herbs present and their concentrations. The efficacy of acupuncture as a treatment of epilepsy is also under the question. This derives from the premise that the trials carried out regarding the efficacy of the method did not yield any useful information; it was suggested that there should be made a huge sample in order to get accurate results (Winterborne, 2008). Yoga also revealed some detrimental results regarding the treatment of epilepsy as it was concluded that it plays a critical role in the underlying mechanism of sudden unexplained death in epilepsy.
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