CBD is currently being used by a ton of different people to treat every type of disease and malady, including anxiety, pain, PTSD, depression, and gastrointestinal problems. Some people are using it to combat nausea during cancer treatment while others are hopeful it will cure their cancer altogether. CBD has been shown to help with many ailments, such as anxiety, while the research is still incomplete or inconclusive for other illnesses, such as cancer.
More and more studies and trials are being conducted all the time, theories are being proven or disproven, and CBD is becoming more accepted and understood within the medical community. While many of CBD’s purported powers are still only myths and rumors, its effects on epilepsy and seizures have been studied extensively and the results are indisputable.
What is Dravet Syndrome?
Dravet syndrome is a form of epilepsy that can cause frequent seizures and it is most common in young children. Seizures become less frequent and less severe when the individual reaches adulthood, but there is an estimated 10-20 percent mortality rate before children can outgrow the worst of this condition.
These seizures can also be very harmful to the child’s developing brain and could cause lasting cognitive and behavioral impairment. When the seizures are controlled early on, some of this damage can be prevented, giving the child their best chance at a healthy development into adulthood.
Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) is a form of epilepsy that causes hard to control seizures. Like Dravet syndrome, these seizures can impair a child’s intellectual development. Lennox-Gastaut syndrome often presents during infancy or early childhood but adults may suffer from it as well and could require life-long treatment. Those affected may experience several different types of seizures, the most common of which being atonic, tonic, and atypical absence seizures.
FDA Approval of Epidiolex
Epidiolex is the first, and currently only, FDA approved prescription Cannabidiol. Approved in June 2018, it can now be prescribed to treat Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome in patients 2 years of age and older. It has been shown to be very effective in treating patients who are highly resistant to other forms of treatment.
Side effects of Epidolex can include sleepiness, decreased appetite, diarrhea, increase in liver enzymes, feeling very tired and weak, rash, sleep problems, and infections. Epidolex can affect other medication so it’s important to discuss your current medications with your doctor. Women who are pregnant, who are planning to become pregnant, or who are nursing should not take Epidolex, or should at least consult with their doctor to determine if it’s right for them.
Studies Using CBD to Treat Seizures
In this double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 120 children and young adults with the Dravet syndrome received either 20 mg of CBD per kilogram of body weight per day or a placebo. The results showed significant reduction in convulsive-seizure frequency in the group receiving the CBD in comparison to those receiving the placebo.
This abstract discusses a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial conducted at 30 clinical centers with patients aged 2 – 55 years old. The trial involved 225 patients divided into 3 groups. Each group was administered either 20 mg per kilogram of body weight per day, 10 mg per kilogram of body weight per day, or a placebo. The reduction in drop-seizure frequency was highest in the 20 mg group, next highest in the 10 mg group, and least significant in the placebo group. Adverse results included elevated liver aminotransferase concentrations.
This research article published by the Journal of Epilepsy Research refers to various studies using CBD to treat seizures and states that it shows a “better defined anticonvulsant profile in animal models” and that it is “is largely devoid of adverse psychoactive effects and abuse liability”. It mentions that not only is seizure control improved but there are also improvements to sleep and behaviour. It describes the reduction in frequency of convulsive seizures in patients with Dravet syndrome and frequency of drop seizures in patients with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, providing evidence that use of CBD can improve seizure control in patients with specific epilepsy syndromes.
This abstract discusses the use of cannabis to treat epilepsy and contemplates on the anticonvulsant properties of CBD. It refers to clinical trials that were conducted studying the effects of CBD to treat seizures caused by Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome but also mentions various other studies conducted on patients with epilepsy. These other studies were done retrospectively or via survey, and the dosage of CBD was not controlled in the majority of them. Despite the controlled environment of these other studies, the overall results show that a high percentage of patients reported improvement in seizures.
This abstract talks about the efficacy of CBD-enriched medical cannabis for the treatment of uncontrolled epilepsy of various causes in children and teens. 26% of patients experienced a reduction in monthly seizure frequency. Younger age at the time of treatment and higher does of CBD were associated with better responses to the treatment.
Potential for CBD to Treat Epilepsy and Seizures
Clinical studies using CBD to treat Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome have been extensive and Epidolex can now be prescribed by your doctor to treat these types of epilepsy. With further research, studies, and clinical trials we’ll see if the potential for using CBD to control seizures and treat other forms of epilepsy is a can be considered a dependable treatment option and if it can be beneficial for patients of all ages.