Amylea at 2 months old (Credit CBS)
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - You may remember Amylea Nunez for being the youngest child in a case study about the effects of hemp oil, being monitored by doctors at Children's Hospital in Aurora, Colorado.
Amylea has a rare form of epilepsy and by 2 months old she was having no less than 15 seizures a day. Worried about the side effects of prescription medication that could damage an infants liver, the family chose to treat Amylea with Charlotte's Web CBD Oil, a high CBD low THC hemp oil. They asked the hospital to monitor Amylea during her treatment.
"We're trying to use something different that's no so bad on her body" Ernie Nunez said, Amylea's father.
Amylea now receiving her hemp oil treatment (Credit KQRE 13)
That was in February. Today Amylea is back home in New Mexico with her family and doing quite well, however, now she is fighting a different battle.
After nearly five months of trying many treatments, ultimately deciding on CBD oil, the hospital noticed great improvement and gave Amylea's parents the okay to bring her home. Now Amylea's new fight, along with thousands of other New Mexicans enrolled in the state's medical marijuana program, is finding the medicine that her mother says "saved my daughter's life". Amylea's mother, Nicole Nunez, is suing the New Mexico Department of Health claiming the strict plant count producers are allowed to grow cannot meet the needs of all the patients in the state.
This year the state increased the number of plants the producers are allowed to grow from 150 to 450 and increased its licensed producers from 12 to 35. But those in the industry say that's still not enough for New Mexico's almost 30,000 patients.
"We're 600 percent short of the required medication that we would need to be able to ensure that patients would be provided with an uninterrupted adequate supply" says Leonard Salgado, Director of Operations at Ultra Health, one of New Mexico's medical marijuana producers.
The Nunez family currently drives back and forth to Colorado to import Amyleas medication.
How well does cannabis help seizures?
Due to restrictions on Cannabis and CBD research it has been difficult study all of the benefits of Cannabidiol, including reduction of seizures in epileptics. The following is from the Epilepsy Foundation (www.epilepsy.com):
Cannabidiol (CBD): Recently, there have been some open-labeled studies in the U.S. of Epidiolex (a drug derived from cannabidiol or CBD), which is produced by a pharmaceutical company (GW Pharmaceuticals). Epidiolex is a purified, 99% oil-based extract of CBD that is produced to give known and consistent amounts in each dose. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given some epilepsy centers permission to use this drug as "compassionate use" for a limited number of people at each center. Such studies are ongoing for difficult epilepsies such as Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (in children and adults) and Dravet syndrome in children.
Results from 213 people who received Epidiolex (99% CBD) in an open label study (without a placebo control) were presented at the American Academy of Neurology, April 22, 2015 in Washington DC. Data from 137 people who completed 12 weeks or more on the drug were used to look at how helpful or effective the drug was. People who received the Epidiolex ranged from 2 to 26 years old with an average age of 11. All had epilepsy that did not respond to currently available treatments - 25 or 18% had Dravet Syndrome (DS) and 22 or 16% had Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome (LGS).
- Seizures decreased by an average of 54% in 137 people who completed 12 weeks on Epidiolex.
- Patients who had DS responded more positively with a 63% decrease in seizures over 3 months.
- This improvement in seizures lasted through 24 weeks on the Epidiolex, more often for people with DS than without DS.
- In 27 patients with atonic seizures (which are commonly seen in people with LGS as well as other types of epilepsy), the atonic seizures decreased by 66.7% on average.
- The responder rate (the number of people whose seizures decreased by at least 50%) was also slightly better in patients with DS (about 55% at 3 months) as compared to patients without DS (50%).
- People who were also taking the anti-seizure medication Clobazam (Onfi) seemed to respond more favorably to the Epidiolex with a greater improvement in convulsive seizures than in patients who were not taking Clobazam. The authors suggested that an interaction between Clobazam and Epidiolex may play a part in the differences seen.
- 14 people withdrew from the study because the drug was not effective for them.
We also found this study from the same pharmaceutical company in patients using CBD enriched Cannabis:
The method of the study consisted of surveying parents of children in the United States using CBD-enriched cannabis to control their intractable epilepsy. These parents were using a variety of non-approved and non-standardized “artisanal” CBD preparations to control their children’s drug resistant seizures. Nineteen parents were surveyed to determine the effects of CBD on their children’s seizure frequency. Of the 19 children in the survey, 13 children had Dravet syndrome, four had Doose syndrome, and one each had LGS and idiopathic epilepsy. The average number of antiepileptic drugs tried before using CBD was 12. Sixteen (84%) of the 19 parents reported a reduction in their child's seizure frequency while taking CBD. Of these, two (11%) reported complete seizure freedom, eight (42%) reported a greater than 80% reduction in seizure frequency, and six (32%) reported a 25–60% seizure reduction. Results from this study for CBD treatment are displayed in the graphs below:
Do your research and draw your own conclusion. The future holds much more in the research of Cannabis and CBD but we have to fight it one battle at a time. Tonight, Amylea and thousands of other New Mexicans fight for their next dose of the medication that is helping restore their lives.