COLUMBUS, OHIO—The prospect of using mari- juana to treat childhood epilepsy, movement disorders, and psychiatric conditions is generating increasing interest among pediatric neurologists. But that hope
must be tempered by the potential for neurotoxicity in
the developing brain, according to research presented at
the 43rd Annual Meeting of the Child Neurology Society.
Two of the most prevalent chemicals in cannabis are
tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—the primary psychoactive
component—and cannabidiol (CBD), a nonpsychoactive
phytochemical and potential treatment for epilepsy, said
Francis M. Filloux, MD, Chief of the Division of Pediatric
Neurology at the University of Utah School of Medicine in
Salt Lake City. Because of the widespread role of the endo-
cannabinoid system in the body and the brain, cannabis
has extensive therapeutic potential and poses considerable
risk. “We have the opportunity to mess up motor function
and coordination, influence executive functions, and have a
major impact on mood and behavioral regulation,” he said.
Studies Are Difficult to Compare
The wide array of cannabis formulations—natural or synthetic, with various combinations of THC and CBD and
varied modes of administration—makes clinical studies
hard to conduct and compare. A 2014 systematic review
sponsored by the American Academy of Neurology is a
case in point. With a focus on multiple sclerosis (MS),
movement disorders, and epilepsy, the authors reviewed
more than 1,700 studies from 1948 to 2013. Only a fraction met their inclusion criteria, and eight had a class I
rating, noted Dr. Filloux.
Can Medical Marijuana
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