Pubdate: Sun, 13 Dec 2015
Source: Times, The (South Africa)
Copyright: 2015 AVUSA, Inc.
Author: Tanya Farber


IT may seem like a simple spoonful of oil, but for epilepsy sufferer 
Sakubona Tshwela, 25, hemp seed extract - derived from the cannabis 
plant, but without psychoactive effects - has been a lifeline.

"I have had epilepsy since 2001," he said. "I have been taking hemp 
seed oil for three months. I feel much better than before. I had a 
fit two weeks ago, but that was my first in three months. Before 
that, I was having a fit almost every day."

Tshwela made no other changes to his diet or lifestyle.

Mickey Winefred Linda, who started the Yiza Ekhaya soup kitchen in 
Khayelitsha, Cape Town, where the hemp seed oil is given out, said: 
"When it first came here, there were those who were really sick. I 
would give them a spoon early in the morning before they ate. Others 
became interested. We firmly believe it is good for rheumatism, 
arthritis, and high blood pressure. It also helps those starting out 
with ARVs."

Linda said another epilepsy sufferer, Phuthumani Mxhasi, 25, had 
benefited from the oil.

Thandi Blie, who heads a nongovernmental organisation called Mamelani 
Projects, said the oil had cleared up her skin and helped with constipation.

The evidence is purely anecdotal, but is supported by a recent study 
at New York University's Comprehensive Epilepsy Center.

In the study, a purified cannabidiol compound in an oil base was 
given to 261 patients aged between four months and 41 years. After 
three months, the frequency of seizures had dropped as much as 45%.

Tony Budden, who imports hemp seed oil into South Africa, said hemp 
and dagga were derived from different varieties of the same plant.
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