Epilepsy sufferers in Australia turns to medicinal cannabis: Study

SYDNEY-- The first nationwide Australian study into the experiences and opinions of people with epilepsy who treat themselves illegally with medicinal cannabis has been published Friday.

The University of Sydney report revealed that 14 percent of epilepsy sufferers, including children, are currently treating themselves with cannabis.

"This survey provides insight into the use of cannabis products for epilepsy, in particular some of the likely factors influencing use, as well as novel insights into the experiences of and attitudes towards medicinal cannabis in people with epilepsy in the Australian community," lead author Anastasia Suraev said.

"But more systematic clinical studies are urgently needed to help us better understand the role of cannabinoids in epilepsy."

The study found the predominant reason people turn to illegal cannabis for treatment was because they found the side-effects of anti-epileptic drugs intolerable and unable to sufficiently control their epilepsy.

"Despite the limitations of a retrospective online survey, we cannot ignore that a significant proportion of adults and children with epilepsy are using cannabis-based products in Australia, and many are self-reporting considerable benefits to their condition," Suraev said.

Over 70 percent of patients reported cannabis to helpful to their condition.

"This highlights a growing need to educate consumers and health professionals on the use of cannabis by people with epilepsy, and to provide safe and timely access to cannabinoid medicine in order to lessen people's reliance on illicit black market products" Co-author and chief executive officer of Epilepsy Action Australia Carol Ireland said.

Source: Philippines News Agency