A new landmark study investigating the efficacy of cannabidiol (CBD) for a rare form of childhood epilepsy shows the non-psychoactive cannabinoid is beneficial for reducing seizures. In the double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, a team of researchers administered CBD to 120 children between the ages of two and 18 years diagnosed with Dravet syndrome for 14 weeks. The participants’ seizure frequency, which had remained resistant to traditional epilepsy treatments, dropped by an average of 39 percent with CBD.
“It’s a big landmark in the scientific study of [cannabidiol], and it’s a major landmark in epilepsy care,” said lead researcher Dr. Orrin Devinsky, neurologist at NYU Langone Medical Centre. “After four millennia of using [cannabinoids] to treat epilepsy, we now have for the first time scientifically rigorously obtained data that this specific compound works in this specific form of epilepsy.”
The average frequency of monthly convulsive seizures decreased from about 12 to about 6 with CBD. Three of the participants had their seizures stop entirely.
“Cannabidiol should not be viewed as a panacea for epilepsy, but for patients with especially severe forms who have not responded to numerous medications, these results provide hope that we may soon have another treatment option,” said Devinsky. “We still need more research, but this new trial provides more evidence than we have ever had of cannabidiol’s effectiveness as a medication for treatment-resistant epilepsy.”
More than nine of 10 of the participants did experience side effects, but those were generally reported as mild or moderate in severity. The most common side effects in those that took CBD were vomiting, fatigue and fever. Twelve of the children dropped out of the trial – nine in the CBD group and three from those taking the placebo.
“Side effects are always an issue, but the drug was tolerated about as well as conventional anti-epileptic drugs,” said Dr. Samuel Berkovic, director of the University of Melbourne’s Epilepsy Research Center in Australia.
- Is CBD Legal?
- How Does CBD Reduce Seizures? Here’s What Science Says
- CBD Reduces Seizures in 84% of Children with Epilepsy, Study Finds