Fighting to raise epilepsy awareness

AN EPILEPSY suffer is battling to raise more awareness for alternative treatments – including cannabis.

Keiron Reeves of Longford Road in Bognor wants people to start talking about different ways to treat the condition he has had since he was four.

Now 29, Keiron says he is forced to break the law to keep the illness under control, as he claims cannabidiol (CBD) oil, which contains cannabis, is the only treatment that works for him.

He said: “I want to hold a public meeting and get people talking about the issue. I have never been so passionate about anything. I am amazed at how little people know.”

Shunning anti-epileptic drugs like Epilim he decided to travel to Amsterdam to buy the oil, which is illegal in the UK. He has been using it for the past six weeks.

He says he has not had a fit in that time.

“I am not doing this to get high, but to live a better quality of life,” he said.

Keiron said he struggled to cope for 25 years, before taking action.

He said: “I think I just hit the point where I realised I had to do something.

“When I was younger I was told it would get easier and I would maybe grow out of it, but when I hit my mid-20s that didn’t happen. If anything, it started to get worse.

“I was having more fits than ever and I started to forget people’s names. I have asked doctors about the CBD oil and other treatments, but I haven’t got anywhere.”

Keiron, who has suffered broken bones during seizures, decided to research alternative therapies. He found out about the oil produced from a strain of the cannabis plant which is been used to help children with severe epilepsy in Colorado, America – one of the two states which has legalised the drug.

Early work is also being undertaken by the University of Reading, where scientists are optimistic a series of compounds found in the drug could help control seizures.

Vikki Brown, a senior policy and campaigns officer at Epilepsy Action, said: “Epilepsy is a condition that can be very difficult to treat. Many people with epilepsy have their condition controlled by epilepsy medicines. For others – around 30 per cent – epilepsy medicines are not effective in controlling seizures.

“Cannabis is made up of a number of components. It is thought that one of these may have anti-epileptic properties. This component, cannabidiol, is presently going through limited clinical trials.

“This could give more of an insight into the possibility of using a component of cannabis to treat epilepsy.”

She added the charity welcomed the research as it could help the understanding of the anti-epileptic components of cannabis and might prove useful in treating those who did not respond to current treatments.

The Epilepsy Society has also welcomed the research, but has stressed the dangers. “Although some people say cannabis has helped their epilepsy in others it has caused seizures,” a spokesman said.

A Sussex Police spokesperson said: “We know that scientific trials are taking place nationally about the use of medicinal cannabis to help combat the effects of epilepsy. However, these are carried out within a controlled environment under strict guidelines by health professionals.

“Cannabis in any form remains illegal in the UK and any person found in possession of it illegally could end up in court and with a criminal record. But every case is assessed on its individual circumstances.”