London, United Kingdom: The daily administration of cannabis products is associated with reductions in seizure frequency among children with treatment-resistant epilepsy (TRE), according to observational trial data published in the journal Neuropediatrics.
British investigators assessed the safety and efficacy of cannabis-derived products in 35 patients diagnosed with pediatric epilepsy. Study subjects were participants in the UK Medical Cannabis Registry, and each of them possessed a doctor’s authorization to consume cannabis. Study participants consumed either CBD-dominant extract oils or a combination therapy containing both CBD and THC.
Researchers reported that over 90 percent of subjects treated with the combination therapy experienced a ≥50 percent reduction in seizure frequency at six months, whereas fewer than one-third of patients receiving CBD-only products did so. Investigators said that cannabis products exhibited an acceptable short-term safety profile in this patient cohort.
“The results show a promising signal toward the effectiveness of CBMPs [cannabis-based medicinal products] in children with TRE, particularly in the cohort of patients treated with delta-9-THC,” the authors concluded. They added: “The short term adverse effects appear well tolerated, but the long-term effects of CBMPs on neurodevelopment are still unknown. The results from this study could be utilized in the design of future phase II randomized controlled trials, particularly for dosing regimens.”
Subjects enrolled in the UK Medical Cannabis Registry who were diagnosed with a variety of other conditions, including post-traumatic stress, depression, and inflammatory bowel disease, have also demonstrated symptomatic improvements following cannabis therapy.
Survey data from Canada estimates that as many as one-third of epileptic patients consume cannabis products therapeutically.
In 2018, regulators with the United States Food and Drug Administration granted market approval for the plant-derived CBD prescription drug Epidiolex in the treatment of two rare forms of pediatric epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, and Dravet syndrome. The drug is categorized as a Schedule V controlled substance. In 2020, FDA regulators expanded the prescription use of Epidiolex to patients with the genetic disorder tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC).
Full text of the study, “Clinical outcomes of children treated with cannabis based medicinal products for treatment resistant epilepsy: Analysis from the UK Medical Cannabis Registry,” appears in Neuropediatrics. Additional information on cannabis and epilepsy is available from NORML’s publication, Clinical Applications for Cannabis & Cannabinoids.