New research has found that children and teenagers suffering from epilepsy had significantly better seizure control when treated with pharmaceutical cannabidiol (CBD) than those treated with the artisanal variety.
CBD is a compound found in cannabis that is known for its ability to relieve stress and anxiety, as well as its anti-seizure abilities. Meanwhile, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is another compound found in cannabis known to cause a “high”. While pharmaceutical CBD does not contain THC, artisanal CBD contains varying amounts of both CBD and THC.
For the study, researchers examined medical records from 31 children and teenagers at an average age of 10. With all having a variety of epilepsy, 32% had Lennox-Gastaut syndrome while 6% had Dravet syndrome. While 22 were taking pharmaceutical CBD, the remaining 9 used artisanal CBD. With the data monitoring each participant for an average of a year, the researchers examined records of each child's medication doses, levels of CBD present in the blood, history of seizures and reduction of seizures alongside the effects of any other medication taken simultaneously and side effects.
In the end, they found that those taking artisanal CBD had an average of 31 nanograms of CBD per milliliter of blood, compared to 124 nanograms per milliliter of blood among those on pharmaceutical CBD. They also found that children and teens taking artisanal CBD tended to have 70% more seizures during the study than at baseline, while those taking the pharmaceutical version had a 39% decrease in number of seizures.
Author of the study, Nathan T. Cohen said, “The difference in seizure control is dramatic and is definitely of concern since many people continue to use artisanal CBD...However, a limitation of our study is that it was small. More research is needed to see if similar results are found in larger groups of people.”
Another limitation is that the study did not involve participants who were actively given either pharmaceutical or artisanal CBD and monitored over time. Also worth considering is that of those taking pharmaceutical CBD, 11 reported significant side effects including sleepiness, a loss in appetite, nausea and diarrhea, with six having to cease treatment as a consequence. Meanwhile, none of the participants on artisanal CBD experienced such side effects.