Cannabidiol, or CBD, is well known for its wide range of medicinal benefits – from its anti-inflammatory properties to antianxiety to its antiepileptic properties, which may be one of CBD’s biggest notables for its popularity. According to The Epilepsy Foundation, in the United States, 1 in 26 Americans will develop epilepsy at sometime in their life. Epilepsy is highest in children and older adults. According to Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE), Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP) accounts for 34% of all sudden deaths in children.
Success Story: Charlotte’s Web
CBD went mainstream when miraculous success stories about how it changed the lives of many epileptic children began popping up all over the US and other countries. You may have heard of Charlotte’s Web and the story of a little Coloradan girl. Young Charlotte Figi was only three months old when she experienced her first seizure. The seizures continued regularly and Charlotte’s parents, Paige and Matt, spent the early days of Charlotte’s infancy in and out of hospitals. Doctors prescribed powerful, addictive medications, like benzodiazepines, in hopes of stopping the seizures. They didn’t.
At two and half years old, she was diagnosed with Dravet Syndrome, a rare type of intractable epilepsy. She would suffer from 300 seizures weekly. Life for the Figis was turned upside down. But, Matt and Paige did not give up; they kept hope. They looked for any and all opportunities of light for their child.
The Figis lived in the cannabis-friendly state of Colorado, which permits the use of medical cannabis for specific qualifying conditions. Seizures is on the list of qualifying conditions. However, they would have to find two doctors to certify young Charlotte, who was only five years old, for a medical marijuana card. After many rejections from doctors who were unwilling to certify Charlotte, the Figis got their blessing from Dr. Margaret Gedde and Dr. Alan Shackelford.
After getting Charlotte’s certification to use CBD oil, Matt and Paige acquired a low-THC, high-CBD strain from a local dispensary. They extracted the oil from the plant and began administering the oil for Charlotte. The results were miraculous. After the first dose, Charlotte’s seizures went away for the next seven days. Soon after, they met the Stanley Brothers, who were cultivating a low-THC, high-CBD strain and were able to provide a constant supply of medicine for Charlotte. Matt and Paige continued to administer the high-CBD oil to Charlotte’s diet; her seizures dropped from 300 a week to twice or three times a month.
CBD and Epilepsy: Research and Data
In a recent study led by researchers Michal Tzadok and Bruria Ben Zeev, 74 patients who suffered from epilepsy participated in a study to determine the efficacy of CBD in reducing seizures. Of the 74 patients, one-half were below the age of 10. The patient were given a dosage of CBD between 1-10mg/kg per day. 60 patients were given <10mg/kg per day and 14 patients were given >10mg/kg per day
66, or 89%, of the participants reported some reduction in seizure frequency.
Source: CBD-enriched medical cannabis for intractable pediatric epilepsy: The current Israeli experience. 2016. Tzadok
Of the 66 patients that reported a reduction in seizure frequency, 13 (17%) had 75-100% reduction, 25 (34%) had 50-75% reduction, 9(12%) had 25-5-% reduction and 19(26%) had less than 25% reduction. Keep in mind that this only one particular study and that clinical research surrounding CBD is slowly gaining more attention. With that said, the data gathered from Tzadok’s study shows very promising results that align with the success stories that some families have had in treating epilepsy with CBD.
Other Research on CBD and Epilepsy