CBD and Child Epilepsy

On the 1st of November 2018, medical cannabis was legalised in the United Kingdom for the first time. The legalisation was passed after members of parliament listened to the parents of children with severe conditions, such as epilepsy, describe the positive effects cannabis was having.

Despite this momentous breakthrough, only specialist doctors are able to prescribe medical cannabis and they assess children on a case-by-case basis. For parents of children with these conditions it can be a lengthy process to get cannabis prescribed.

Brain

What about CBD?

CBD (cannabidiol) is a completely legal, THC-free chemical compound from the Cannabis Sativa plant. It is not psycho-active and does not cause the ‘high’ normally associated with cannabis. You can buy CBD online and do not need a prescription. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in the American Academy of Neurology in 2019, 199 children with Dravet syndrome – a drug-resilient form of epilepsy – were given CBD as an add-on to their existing medication. 46% of the children that were given CBD20 (20mg/kg/day) and 49% of the children that were given CBD10 (10mg/kg/day) recorded a greater than 50% reduction in seizures, compared to 27% of the children given the placebo. Whilst there were some adverse effects reported such as loss of appetite and diarrhoea, only 7% of the patients stopped taking the CBD because of these effects and these were all patients who were given the higher dose.

There is some evidence that CBD alongside other epilepsy medication, for example clobazam, could cause more severe side effects, so it is important to check with a healthcare professional before starting any kind of treatment.

What is clear is that more research needs to be done into CBD, as it is clearly making a positive difference. The above study is often cited as it is one of the most trusted and was conducted under reliable conditions. With the legalisation of medical cannabis in the UK, we can hope that more studies will be conducted under similarly strict conditions; that way we can know for sure what part CBD may have to play in the future of child epilepsy treatment.