In June 2018, the FDA (United States Food and Drug Administration) approved CBD as an epilepsy treatment drug. The drug was approved to treat two of the rarest stubborn disorders to treat; seizures in Dravet syndrome, and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS).
The treatment drug is a marijuana plant component and was approved for treating children aged two years plus, and adults as well. The cannabidiol treatment plan is restricted to controlling seizures arising from Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome only.
Extensive research proves how CBD, used alongside other anticonvulsant drugs lowers the severity and frequency among patients suffering from the two epileptic disorders.
What is Dravet Syndrome?
The syndrome starts early in childhood. It’s considered a developmental disorder that triggers multiple seizures types. It also causes seizures to patients ailing from fevers. The syndrome alters the body causing behavioral changes and learning difficulties.
Seizure treatments: Common drugs used to treat this syndrome include; Topamax (topiramate), Onfi (clobazam), Depakote (valproate), Diacomit (stiripentol) and observing a ketogenic diet.
Unfortunately, for some people diagnosed with this syndrome, they continue getting persistent seizures. Cannabidiol (CBD) use proves to keep the seizures under control, thus making patients with Dravet syndrome lead a quality life.
What is Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome (LGS)?
LGS syndrome begins early in childhood. It’s classified as a developmental disorder that causes multiple seizure types. It primarily affects cognitive and physical functions as well.
LGS causes hard to control seizure that demands the use of different medication regimes from the common drugs that treat various epilepsy ailments.
Seizure treatments: Combination of Lamictal (lamotrigine), Felbatol (felbamate), Topamax (topiramate), Klonopin (clonazepam), or the alternative ketogenic diet. Despite the medication regiment, patients with LGS regularly suffer from persistent seizures.
Epidiolex cannabis extract helps keep the seizures under control. The medication is offered in liquid form (oral solution), and its recommended dose is weight based.
The prescription dosage administered twice daily is 2.5 mg/kg; it can be increased upwards to 20 mg/kg twice daily to tackle unreasonable seizures.
Various Seizure Types
The FDA hasn’t approved cannabidiol for the treatment of other types of epilepsy or associated seizures. Tests are still undergoing to prove whether CBD will help control different kinds of seizures besides the ones arising from Dravet and LGs syndrome.
On-going CBD studies on seizure control are centered on refractory seizures. These are some of the seizures that have proven difficult to keep under control with anti-seizure medications and treatment options.
Researchers released a study report proving that brain tumor-induced seizures in three patients were tough for anticonvulsants. Upon introducing CBD, the severity of the seizures in all three patients was reduced significantly.
Observations in two patients showed how CBD reduced seizure frequency in two of the three patients.
The Epidiolex treatment plan is administered in an oral solution (liquid form); the dosage amount is given based on weight. Two separate daily doses of 10 mg/kg proved to be a useful treatment option.
Treatment plan: Epidiolex dose is administered at 2.5 mg/kg dose twice daily and is increased to the desired (10 mg/kg) after seven days.
In critical cases, the dosage gets increased to 20 mg/kg daily; however, the higher dose has proven to increase the side effects.
The FDA cautions patients and caregivers that anti-seizure medications should be administered at set times without skipping or combining treatments. Steps should be taken to counter the difficulty patients suffer from taking oral medication.
Cognitive problems, swallowing problems, and behavioral problems are some of the struggles patients with Dravet or LGS syndrome deal with.
Steps and strategies that work to counter such difficulties in both adults and children should be used with caution to aid patients in taking their daily doses.
Erratic electrical brain activity causes seizures. The action spreads to various sections in the brain and alters consciousness or uncontrolled physical movements. A majority of anticonvulsants are taken to slow down the excitatory nerve behavior in the brain.
Due to the gravity of Dravet and LGS syndrome, a combination of two or more anticonvulsants are needed. The treatment options are not usually used to treat other kinds of epilepsy due to their potency.
Scientists widely believe CBD reduces the severity and frequency in some types of seizures due to its biochemical effects range on nerve cells in the brain.
CBD Side Effects
The side effects associated with CBD use come in two clusters: Mild and severe.
Mild side effects include:
General Body Weakness
Severe side effects include:
Mood alteration (Anxiety, Depression, Suicidal thoughts)
Jaundice (caused by liver injury)
Dark colored urine
Due to the associated side effects, cannabidiol is recommended to be used with caution. Caregivers are required to administer the medication at the scheduled time and give the exact dosage. Consult with a medical practitioner before use.