Pot Chemical and Kids' Hard-to-Treat Epilepsy

Photo Credit: Flickr Andres Rodriguez

Photo Credit: Flickr Andres Rodriguez

In a new report to be released at the American Epilepsy Society's annual meeting, researchers say cannabidiol (CBD) reduced seizure disorders in as many as half of the children with epilepsy who participated in its treatment. This could be because the cannabinoid may interact with a receptor in the brain that modulates calcium inside and outside of the neuron, which plays a role in exciting nerve cells and developing seizures.

In one study led by Dr. Orrin Devinsky involving 261 patients averaging around age 11, patients who were resistant to anti-seizure medications received a cannabidiol oil called Epidiolex along with their current drug therapies. After three months, Devinsky witnessed a decline in seizure frequency by about 45% in all study participants. Almost half of the participants experienced greater than a 50% reduction in seizure frequency, and ten patients became completely seizure free. Another study conducted at the University of California in San Francisco, about 25 children suffering from epilepsy received a marijuana-derived oil along with their regular drug regimen for one year. After one year, 10 participants (40% of the group) experienced over 50% reduced seizure frequency. One child became seizure free, but the 12 children dropped out of the study because they did not see positive results. 

While these findings are significant and hopeful, some studies have found CBD oil to actually act negatively with some anti-seizure medications. In order to truly find out how effective CBD is in combatting epilepsy disorder in children, there need to be more placebo-controlled and blinded clinical trials. This information has been brought to you by WebMD and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.