Can CBD Cure Children With Epilepsy?

This midwife dips a syringe into a small vial of cannabidiol oil (CBD, the relaxing molecule with no narcotic effects) to adjust the dosage of the drug. She then scoops the viscous liquid into a large spoon and administers it orally to her two children. Thomas and his sister Camille, 13, have Wwox syndrome, a rare genetic abnormality that combines “refractory epilepsy, severe global retardation and severe cognitive impairment.”

Fewer seizures

Poly handicapped they only weigh about thirty kilos. Her illness regularly causes epileptic seizures, sometimes up to twenty a day in the youngest. The mother describes a tedious everyday life in which every meal, every wash is an ordeal.

“Seeing your child having an epileptic seizure is terrifying. You don’t get used to it over time, but you get used to it. This treatment has changed our lives: if they are better, we are too,” admits the mother, her daughter on her knees. She says she has seen a significant decrease in seizures since her children started taking CBD.

Find the “response dose”

The two teenagers are among the first beneficiaries of the medical cannabis experiment launched in France in March 2021 for two years under the control of the National Medicines Safety Agency (ANSM). Ultimately, it should include up to 3,000 patients. Of the 1,500 already enrolled, 70 are minors and mostly suffer from refractory epilepsy, explains Nathalie Richard, who is leading the work.

For each, you have to “find the dose response” and determine at what dose the drug works, explains Dr. Stéphane Auvin, Neuropediatrician at the Robert Debré Hospital (AP-HP). Fifteen of his patients, aged 5 to 17, suffering from pathologies resistant to existing treatments, are treated with CBD. Thomas and Camille, who have been accompanied by the doctor from an early age, are concerned. “He responded well straight away, then we had to increase the dose. With Camille, we had no effect up to the maximum dose, which she tolerates very well,” he explains.

Few side effects

CBD causes far fewer side effects than other antiepileptic treatments, adds Isabelle Nodin: less fatigue, drowsiness, and seizures. This allows her to develop “non-verbal communication” with her children.

“They don’t talk, they can’t read, so you have to get their attention with sensory things,” she says amid music books and colored fiber optics strewn on the floor of her daughter’s room.

The topic of medicinal cannabis

France would have almost 700,000 people with epilepsy, around 30% of whom would show resistance to existing treatments, estimates Stéphane Auvin. The deadline for the experiment next year presents the challenge of generalizing antiepileptic treatments based on CBD.

Regarding refractory epilepsy, “we have positive feedback on the effectiveness of the treatments […] but there are always side effects, that’s relative to any drug,” acknowledges Nathalie Richard. “CBD should not be seen as a miracle drug,” warns Stéphane Auvin, who doubts that the treatment can alleviate all forms of epilepsy. One of his patients has already left the device, he notes.

Clinical Legitimacy

“CBD as a molecule in the treatment of epilepsy clearly has its place,” but “does an experiment conducted by the ANSM give the same legitimacy as a clinical trial measuring side effects and efficacy?” asks the neuropediatrician.

Leave a Comment