Cannabidiol is a phytocannabinoid that is known for it’s non-intoxicating profile and anti-anxiety/anti-psychotic effects. CBD has shown to be effective in reducing the frequency and total number of seizures in patients dealing with epileptic encephalopathy.
Epilepsy causes patients to have multiple cases and incidents of seizures, severe cognitive impairment and abnormal electroencaphlographic pattern of slow spike-and-wave complexes. Most of the time, seizures start to occur in childhood and continue into adulthood. Patients may see an increase or loss of motor tone resulting in drop seizures which can lead to further injury.
The effectiveness of CBD as an anti-epileptic medication was first investigated in 4 randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials from 1978 to 1990. In a double-blind study done on 120 Dravet Syndrome patients they found that those in the CBD group showed a decrease in total seizures per month by over 25%. There have been remarkable differences in the reduction of seizure frequency and total seizures with the use of CBD. CBD has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of seizures in Dravet Syndrom (DS) which when undergoing CBD therapy lead to a reduction in the frequency of both convulsive and total seizures.
In a study done on 396 Lennox-Gestaut Syndrome patients, CBD showed to be effective on drop seizures compared to the placebo group. The clinical benefit on drop seizures seemed to be persistent over the 12 week study. CBD was also seen to be effective on non-drop seizures. CBD is licensed for the use of treatment of Lennox-Gestaut Syndrome where studies showed it reduced the monthly frequency of drop and non-drop seizures. Only 6 medications are approved to treat seizures in patients with this syndrome however disabling seizures continue to occur even with treatment.
Clinical trials have shown that CBD is effective in reduction of seizure events and is well tolerated in patients. Currently the pharmaceutical grade cannabidiol product licensed as Epidiolex has been approved by the FDA for treatment of Lennox-Gestaut Syndrome, Dravet Syndrom and tuberous sclerosis complex in patients 1 year of age and older.
Devinsky, O., Patel, A. D., Cross, J. H., Villanueva, V., Wirrell, E. C., Privitera, M., ... & Zuberi, S. M. (2018). Effect of cannabidiol on drop seizures in the Lennox–Gastaut syndrome. New England Journal of Medicine, 378(20), 1888-1897.
Morano, A., Fanella, M., Albini, M., Cifelli, P., Palma, E., Giallonardo, A. T., & Di Bonaventura, C. (2020). Cannabinoids in the Treatment of Epilepsy: Current Status and Future Prospects. Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment, 16, 381–396. https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S203782