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Cannabis oil treating Epilepsy, 173 years ago

William Brooke O’Shaughnessy

Everyday I read articles about scientific breakthroughs concerning the medical properties of cannabis, this morning I read an article on how CBD is “a wonder medicine for pediatric epilepsy’ and how Amylea Nunez, aged two months was the youngest patient to be prescribed cannabis oil. However, she is not the youngest and cannabis oil as a treatment in paediatric epilepsy is not a new discovery, it is merely a rediscovery.

Dr WB O’Shaughnessy

In 1840, Victorian Doctors were treating people with extracts of cannabis for many illnesses, including tinctures for treating children with epilepsy.

One of my favourite pioneers was Dr William Brooke O’Shaughnessy MD, an irish physician, surgeon, Professor of chemistry, scientist and innovator, he was a pioneer of ‘intravenous therapy’ and he is the man credited with introducing cannabis to Western medicine.

O’Shaughnessy graduated in 1829 with a Medical Doctorate from the University of Edinburgh. In 1831, at the young age of 22, he investigated cholera and his early work led to the development of intravenous fluid and electrolyte-replacement therapy.

In 1833, O’Shaughnessy moved to Calcutta, India to work for the British East India Company and during his time there he developed new cannabinoid extraction techniques which he used is preparations to treat patients suffering from, cholera, tetanus, analgesia, rheumatism and epilepsy in infants.

In India, he initially studied botanical pharmacology and chemistry, publishing his first paper on medical cannabis in 1839.

In his paper “On the preparations of the Indian hemp, or Gunjah” published in the Provincial Medical Journal, London on February 4th, 1843, O’Shaughnessey relates the case of a baby just over a month old who he administered  an ethanol (alcohol) cannabis based tincture.

Please remember this was written 173 years ago.

Case of Infantile Convulsions, 1843

1/20th of a grain is 3.24mgs

Always shake cannabis preparations before use and store in the fridge.

Dr O’Shaughnessy (quite correctly) increased the dose

He was learning about how tolerance builds, hence the requirement to increase the dose (slowly).

Dr O’Shaughnessy concludes:

The Doctor explains how he prepares his preparations

The alcohol he used was 84.5% ethanol, he was preparing what many people today would refer to as a FECO extraction (full extract cannabis oil).

A drachm is 1.77 grams and tetanus is also referred to as lockjaw

10 to 20 grains is 0.65 grams to 1.3 grams, and from Dr O’Shaughnessy’s description of the pill making process it is actually cannabis oil as we now know it, 1.3 grams is a very significant dose. Hydrophobia is a common symptom of Rabies.

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