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Cannabidiol Shows Promise in Pediatric Epilepsy

Preliminary studies link cannabidiol to seizure reduction, but drug interactions remain a concern

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TUESDAY, Dec. 8, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Cannabidiol might benefit some children with epilepsy whose seizures aren't controlled by approved medications, according to research scheduled to be presented at the annual meeting of the American Epilepsy Society, held from Dec. 4 to 8 in Philadelphia.

To see whether children with epilepsy would benefit from cannabidiol treatment, Orrin Devinsky, M.D., a neurologist at the NYU Langone Medical Center's Comprehensive Epilepsy Center in New York City, led a study involving 261 people, mostly children, whose seizures had not been controlled using current medications. The average age of the participants was 11. Everyone received a British-made cannabidiol oil called Epidiolex, which was administered as a drop on the tongue, Devinsky said. This was in addition to their current drug therapy.

The researchers found that after three months, seizure frequency declined by an average 45 percent in all participants. Almost half experienced a 50 percent or greater reduction in seizures, and about one of every 10 patients became seizure-free.

A second study from the University of California, San Francisco, explored the long-term effectiveness of cannabidiol for children with epilepsy, by adding the marijuana-derived oil to the regular drug regimen of about 25 children for one year. The researchers found that after a year, the treatment resulted in a 50 percent reduction in seizures for 10 participants -- about 40 percent of the group. One child remained seizure-free, but 12 of the initial participants dropped out of the study because the cannabidiol didn't appear to provide any benefit.

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