Medical Cannabis for Epilepsy Linked to Precocious Puberty?
The journal BMJ Case Reports has published a study indicating that there might be a link between medical cannabis used for severe epilepsy in children and puberty, as suspected after the treatment of a 2-year epilepsy patient.
Based on previous studies, cannabis use might be linked to increased levels of testosterone, which raised the question of a potential dose-related effect.
Also, the researchers still don’t have a final conclusion on the actual impact of cannabis on the hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis — a set of glands responsible for the development of the reproductive system. They have been trying to determine whether cannabis could possibly cause the HPG axis to activate too early.
The mother of the 2-year-old that underwent cannabis treatment reports the premature puberty-related changes (such as genital enlargement and body hair growth) starting to happen a month after he started taking cannabis oil.
She ordered the oil without prescription since the boy’s epilepsy was unresponsive to conventional treatments (with up to 20 seizures per day) and it reduced the number of seizures to 5 per day. However, the test results showed that the boy’s testosterone levels were significantly higher than normal, as were those of other reproductive hormones.
However, more research on the effects of cannabis on hormones is needed so that the claims could be founded on more reliable evidence, especially since previously there were no cases of precocious puberty reported in children who used medical cannabis. It remains unclear whether the precocious puberty in a 2-year old patient is caused by the HPG axis being activated by cannabis use.
Still, according to the authors, we should be aware of the potential hormonal consequences of cannabis use and that children with brain disorders might be more susceptible to it.