Parents who experience the pain associated with childhood epilepsy may search for any medication or treatment to help their children. In recent years, much has been written about the benefits of cannabidiol (CBD). CBD is a compound found naturally in the cannabis plant. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or the compound that gives users a “high”, CBD is not psychoactive. Despite the lack of regulatory controls, some parents have found that the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.
While CBD’s effectiveness for epilepsy treatment has been known since the 1970s, most people know very little about CBD, Scientists determined that CBD produces anticonvulsant benefits because the brain’s endocannabinoid system responds to it. Because cannabis is still rated as a Schedule 1 narcotic, its scientific importance is debatable. Those on the side of the medicinal effects point to research and anecdotal reports. Opponents believe that cannabis (and sister plants like marijuana) lead to increased drug usage. However, CBD became more mainstream after a 2013 CNN documentary featuring Dr. Sanjay Gupta touted the chemical’s effectiveness on seizures.
Stanford University researchers surveyed parents of epileptic children and discovered that a large percentage of respondents saw decreased seizure activity in their children. On average, the children had tried over 12 different antiepileptic drugs prior to trying CBD-enriched cannabis. Parents reported benefits including better moods, increased alertness, and improved sleep. The only downside was fatigue and drowsiness. Researchers believe that as more states adopt legal medical cannabis, the use of CBD for treatment will increase.
Because CBD is not psychoactive, it can be administered without causing the user to get high. It can be taken as lozenges, edibles, or smoked in a vape pen. For children with epilepsy, oil is the most common delivery method. The Stanford study surveyed parents in a Facebook group focused on hard to treat epilepsy. While the study didn’t focus on the ways the CBD was administered to children, the key point was that all of the children had decreased seizure activity after the medicine was taken. Children as young as two have had significant response to CBD. The parents reported that most of the children had negative experiences with traditional medications. The study found that children with Dravet’s Syndrome, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, Doose syndrome, and idiopathic early-onset epilepsy found seizure relief where other epileptic medications had failed.
Not only had the children experienced reduce seizure activity, the parents reported better quality of life. One child who had suffered over 500 seizures per week before using CBD now has less than 2 seizures per week. More importantly, the children had better appetites, moods, and sleep. The only downside reported was drowsiness and fatigue. Traditional epileptic medications caused nausea, vomiting, aggressive behavior, and irritability. For the parents, the beneficial effects of CBD far outweighed any negative implications associated with the drug.
CBD can be found online, and some of the largest providers offer multiple product offerings ranging from salves and tinctures to gum and other edibles. While all CBD products are not equal, it is important for parents to diligently research all medications before administering to their children.