Cannabidiol as A Seizure Treatment for Neurodevelopmental Disorders

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The cannabis sativa is used as medicine and food. Hemp, one of the types of cannabis, has 113 organic compounds. One of these plant extracts is cannabidiol (CBD) which has been widely studied for its medicinal use. The studies revolve around how CBD can be used to alleviate symptoms of pain, insomnia, epileptic seizures, and Parkinson’s disease.

Research on Epileptic Seizure Treatments

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved CBD as an epileptic seizure treatment in 2018. The treatment was approved for seizures caused by two types of epilepsy.

However, not much data is available showing the behavioral and anti-seizure effects of CBD on a rare neurodevelopmental condition called Angelman syndrome (AS). AS is rare, and this makes the research limited on its possible therapies.

Angelman syndrome (AS) is a neurogenetic disorder that occurs rarely. The case occurs in one out of 15,000 births. This makes the global count be about 500,000 individuals who have the condition. The developmental problems are commonly observed at 6 to 12 months of age. Manifestations of AS can be observed as seizures and problems in speech and balance.

CBD for AS Treatment

The Journal of Clinical Investigation published a study on CBD conducted by The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). Dr. Ben Philpot and Dr. Bin Gu led the group of UNC School of Medicine researchers in observing the effects of CBD in mice with AS.

They conducted tests to see how CBD can influence brain function, motor issues, and seizures. It has been found out that CBD can be useful for adults and children who have the rare neurodevelopmental condition, Angelman syndrome (AS).

The mice were genetically modified and injected with CBD doses an hour before the behavioral tests are conducted. CBD didn’t have much impact on balance or motor coordination regardless of the doses given. Mild sedation was observed in mice after being injected a 100 mg/kg anti-convulsant dose of CBD.

The single injection reduced the intensity of the seizures. These seizures were experimentally triggered using loud sounds and elevating the mice’s body temperature. It also stabilized brain pulses associated with neural abnormalities and deficits.

CBD for DS Treatment

It’s not the first time that CBD was studied to treat rare neurodevelopmental disorders. In 2017, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) published a study conducted by the University of Washington School of Medicine in treating symptoms of Dravet syndrome.

Dravet syndrome (DS) is a childhood brain disorder characterized by severe seizures that occur in children. The seizures start being more pronounced during the first year of childhood. This condition affects only one out of 20,000 to 40,000 people globally.

The team has also developed a mouse genetic model that allowed them to observe the beneficial effects of CBD in depth. CBD reduced the duration, severity, and frequency of seizures in DS patients. Low doses of CBD administered showed that the mice interacted more with other mice. This wasn’t observed when higher doses were given.

William Catterall, researcher, and professor of pharmacology at the University of Washington School of Medicine stated that growing interest has been observed in parents using CBD to treat their children. The frequency of seizures was reduced as observed in clinical trials for DS patients.

Hopes on the Future of CBD

Dr. Ben Philpot, the senior author of the AS study and the associate director of the UNC Neuroscience Center, is hopeful on the future of their study. He highlighted that the results of their study show that CBD could help the medical community in finding better treatments for kids who suffer from Angelman syndrome.

Dr. Bin Gu also stated that they are confident their study gives the preclinical framework required in developing CBD as a therapy in reducing seizures linked to AS and neurodevelopmental disorders.

Drs. Philpot and Gu advised that physicians must always be consulted by patients and their families before using any CBD products. They believe that clinical trials on humans are still necessary to understand how CBD can be used effectively and safely.




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