84% of the parents surveyed reported a reduction in their child’s seizure frequency while taking cannabidiol-enriched cannabis.
Severe childhood epilepsies are characterized by frequent seizures, neurodevelopmental delays, and impaired quality of life. In these treatment-resistant epilepsies, families often seek alternative treatments.
In the December 2013 issue of the journal Epilepsy and Behavior, Drs. Porter and Jacobsen from Stanford University investigate the use of cannabidiol-enriched cannabis in children with treatment-resistant epilepsy.
The survey was presented to parents belonging to a Facebook group dedicated to sharing information about the use of cannabidiol-enriched cannabis to treat their child’s seizures.
Nineteen responses met the following inclusion criteria for the study: a diagnosis of epilepsy and current use of cannabidiol-enriched cannabis.
The average number of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) tried before using cannabidiol-enriched cannabis was 12.
- Sixteen (84%) of the 19 parents reported a reduction in their child’s seizure frequency while taking cannabidiol-enriched cannabis.
- Of these, two (11%) reported complete seizure freedom
- eight (42%) reported a greater than 80% reduction in seizure frequency
- six (32%) reported a 25-60% seizure reduction.
- Other beneficial effects included increased alertness, better mood, and improved sleep.
- Side effects included drowsiness and fatigue.
The survey shows that parents are using cannabidiol-enriched cannabis as a treatment for their children with treatment-resistant epilepsy.
Because of the increasing number of states that allow access to medical cannabis, its use will likely be a growing concern for the epilepsy community. Safety and tolerability data for cannabidiol-enriched cannabis use among children are not available.
Objective measurements of a standardized preparation of pure cannabidiol are needed to determine whether it is safe, well tolerated, and efficacious at controlling seizures in this pediatric population with difficult-to-treat seizures.
Keywords: Cannabidiol, Dravet syndrome, Epilepsy, Intractable, Medically refractory seizures, Pediatric, Side effects, Treatment-resistant
Brenda E. Porter, Catherine Jacobson, Epilepsy & Behavior, Volume 29, Issue 3, December 2013, Pages 574-577, ISSN 1525-5050, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.yebeh.2013.08.037. (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1525505013004629)