In the December 2013 issue of the journal Epilepsy and Behavior, Drs. Porter and Jacobsen from Stanford University investigate whether parents or families are utilizing cannabidiol enriched cannabis for their children with treatment-resistant epilepsy. They presented a survey to patients 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 inclusion criteria, which included a diagnosis of epilepsy and current use of cannabidiol enriched cannabis.
Thirteen of these children had Dravet Syndrome; four had Doose Syndrome, and one each had Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome and idiopathic epilepsy.
The average number of antiepilepsy drugs tried before using cannabidiol enriched cannabis was 12.
Sixteen of the 19 patients, or 84%, reported a reduction in their child’s seizure frequency while taking the extract.
Two, or 11%, reported complete seizure freedom; 8, or 42%, reported a greater than 80% reduction in seizure frequency; and 6, or 32%, reported a 25-60% seizure reduction.
Other beneficial effects included increased alertness, better mood, and improved sleep. Side effects included drowsiness and fatigue.
- Because of the number of states that are increasingly allowing access to medical cannabis, its use will likely be a growing concern for the epilepsy community. Safety and tolerability data for this use of cannabis is not available. More research is needed to determine whether this is safe, well tolerated, and efficacious at controlling seizures in the pediatric population with difficult to treat seizures.
by Joseph I. Sirven, MD
Last Reviewed: 12/18/2013