As a parent of a child with epilepsy, you’re probably always looking for ways to reduce the number of seizures your child experiences. You may have heard about Epidiolex, a drug made from CBD oil that has been found to be a highly effective treatment against seizures.
Epidiolex is a highly purified form of CBD oil that is made from cannabis plants. It was developed specifically to treat seizures in children and adults with treatment-resistant epilepsy. Clinical trials have shown that Epidiolex reduces seizure frequency by 54 percent in children within 12 weeks.
Epidiolex is well tolerated and associated with improvements in symptoms across a variety of epilepsy syndromes. Side effects are typically mild and include diarrhea, vomiting, and poor appetite. In most cases, these side effects improve over time.
What is Epidiolex and CBD?
Epidiolex is a plant-derived cannabidiol (CBD) product for the treatment of two rare and severe forms of pediatric epilepsy, Dravet syndrome, and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Epidiolex is also indicated for the treatment of seizures associated with tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) in patients one year of age or older.
How Epidiolex Reduces Seizures
We don’t fully understand how Epidiolex and other CBD-based treatments stop seizures from happening yet. Epidiolex, on the other hand, is known to work by binding to a protein called the G-protein coupled receptor 55. (GPR55). This protein is found in the brain, and it helps control the growth of cells. Animal studies have shown that CBD can stop GPR55 from working too much, which may help to stop seizures. Also, it is thought that Epidiolex raises the amount of gamma-aminobutyric acid in the brain (GABA). GABA helps control how nerve cells work, and a lack of it has been linked to seizures. Epidiolex may help reduce the number of seizures by making GABA levels higher. Epidiolex might also work with other receptors in the brain, such as the serotonin 5-HT1A receptor. This receptor is thought to play a role in sleep, anxiety, pain, and other functions. Epidiolex might help reduce seizures by binding to this receptor as well.
Pediatric Patients with Treatment-Resistant Epilepsy
One of the most common brain disorders in kids is epilepsy. About 3 million adults and 470,000 children in the US had active epilepsy in 2015. Most kids with epilepsy can stop having seizures by taking medicine. But even if they get the right care, some children will still have seizures. The International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) defines drug-resistant epilepsy as “the failure of adequate trials of two tolerated, appropriately chosen and used anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) to stop seizures.” Kids and their families have a hard time with epilepsy that doesn’t go away. It makes people more likely to have delayed development, depression, and anxiety. Epilepsy is also dangerous in some ways. Researchers estimate that, for every 1,000 people with epilepsy, at least 1 person may die from Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP) each year.
CBD for Epilepsy
When nothing else works to stop seizures, some families turn to medical marijuana. Some states have laws that allow people with epilepsy to get medical marijuana. CBD is a chemical found in marijuana that doesn’t make people feel high like THC does. Some studies have shown that CBD can help reduce seizures in people who have drug-resistant epilepsy. A recent study found that those who took Epidiolex (a CBD medicine) had a lower chance of having seizures compared to those on a placebo. Another small study showed that Epidiolex cut seizure frequency in people with Dravet syndrome, a rare and severe form of childhood epilepsy.
The long-term efficacy of Epidiolex is currently being studied. So far, the drug appears to be safe and effective for long-term use. If your child is struggling with seizures, contact us to speak with one of our doctors to get a better understanding of Epidiolex.