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Recently, news has circulated that a drug containing CBD was approved by the FDA to be an effective treatment for severe forms of epilepsy. This has strengthened the belief of many consumers that this cannabis compound is truly therapeutic and can cure serious conditions, such as epilepsy.
With this news, many are asking if CBD can also reduce seizures that are caused by rare childhood epilepsy disorders. If yes, how effective is it in preventing seizures?
What is CBD
Let us first check out what CBD is. Where is this substance from? Is this truly safe and effective?
CBD comes from Cannabidiol. This is one of the cannabinoids that are found in cannabis plants, like marijuana. However, CBD extract, which is used in supplements and drugs, usually comes from hemp. Thus, if there is no reason to freak out about taking any marijuana compound.
Unlike the cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD is not psychoactive. This means that it will not make you “high”. Yes, there are drugs using CBD that also include THC in their ingredients for more effectiveness. However, by itself, CBD promises health benefits, attracting consumers looking for natural remedies.
FDA Approved Seizure Treatment
In 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Epidiolex as a cure for seizures caused by Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Both of these are rare childhood epilepsy forms that hit two years and older children. The newly approved drug contains purified CBD.
This oral solution is also the first drug to be approved by the FDA as a treatment for Dravet syndrome.
What are Rare Childhood Epilepsy Disorders
To know how serious these rare and severe these epilepsies are, let us have a brief background of each:
- Dravet syndrome– This genetic condition usually appears in the child’s first year and is characterised by febrile seizures. Soon, other kinds of seizures, like myoclonic seizures, come out too. If not treated early on, it may result in status epilepticus, which is life-threatening.
Dravet syndrome commonly affects the development of the motor and language skills of the child. It may also result in hyperactivity and socialisation problem.
- Lennox-Gastaut syndrome– This is another rare condition that starts in early childhood (between 3 to 5 years old). Patients with this condition may experience several types of seizures, and one of these is the tonic seizure, which results in uncontrollable muscle contraction.
Most children affected by this syndrome suffer from intellectual disability and learning difficulties. They may also experience late motor skills development.
How Effective CBD is
One research published in Neurology showed that highly purified CBD can reduce convulsive seizures in Dravet syndrome patients by almost 50%. The study involved 199 subjects, with a mean age of nine years old. Some of them received highly purified CBD at 20 mg per day (CBD20 group), others took it at 10 mg per day (CBD10 group), and some the placebo.
The result showed that the CBD20 group was able to achieve a 49% reduction in convulsive seizures, while the CBD10 group got 44%, and those in the placebo group achieved a 26% reduction.
Another study was conducted on 225 subjects with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. They were also divided into three groups: one group taking 20mg a day, another with 10mg, and a group in the placebo.
The result was almost the same as that of the first-mentioned research. The CBD20 group had a 42% decrease in seizure, the CBD10 group got 37%, and the placebo group only had a 17% reduction.
Safety and Side Effects
Even though the CBD20 dosage is more effective in reducing seizures, it causes more side effects than the lesser dosage. The side effects included decreased appetite, diarrhoea, tiredness, and may even cause liver damage. (1)
On the other hand, Devinsky pointed out that the CBD10 dosage has fewer side effects. Yet, its effectiveness is only slightly lower than the higher dosage.
Overall, Epidiolex is considered by this research to be a safe treatment for these rare epilepsy disorders. In the same study, only 7 patients quitted the trial due to side effects. One from the CBD10 group, and six from the CBD20 group. (1)
The FDA reminds that Epidiolex should be given to the patients with a medication guide. This should indicate the necessary information regarding its usage and possible risks. (1)
Like other epilepsy medications, Epidiolex’s worst risks include panic attacks, severe depression, agitation, and suicidal thoughts and attempts. As mentioned above, one of its side effects may be a liver injury, but it is commonly mild. You would know it has gone worse if the patient experiences fatigue, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and other symptoms.
Know More About CBD
With the FDA’s approval, it is safe to say that CBD has been proven effective as an epilepsy treatment. It is a relief that, finally, patients suffering from rare childhood epilepsy conditions have a hope already. The damages caused by these conditions will be minimised—if not completely prevented.
CBD has other health benefits. It is a popular supplement for people experiencing chronic pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and other painful conditions. Its anti-inflammatory properties make scientists and consumers believe its effectiveness as a pain reliever.
Although a lot of health products containing CBD are surfacing in the market, you should be careful. Most of these products are not FDA approved, so there is no way to find out its efficacy.
Make sure that before you try any CBD product you consult your doctor about it first. If you are taking medications, ask recommendations from your doctor if you can take a CBD supplement alongside with it. This compound may interact with your medicines.
Find out more about CBD! Read more of our articles regarding this wonder cannabinoid on the website. Also, it is best if you talk to a health provider if you have questions.