CBD Oil And Epilepsy Medication

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There is evidence that Epidiolex – an FDA-approved CBD oil – could reduce epilepsy symptoms for people with certain syndromes. Find out more. Located in the heart of Houston, Texas Medical Center campus is home to leaders in research, medicine, and innovation in healthcare. Seizures are shared. Now hope is too. Experience the possibility of significant seizure reduction with EPIDIOLEX, the 1st and only FDA-approved prescription CBD used to treat seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, Dravet syndrome, or tuberous sclerosis complex in patients 1 year of age and older. See Important Safety Information.

Should you take CBD oil for seizures?

There is evidence that Epidiolex – an FDA-approved CBD oil – could reduce epilepsy symptoms for people with certain syndromes. Find out more.

People have been using cannabis (also known as marijuana) to treat epilepsy for centuries. In the United States it only became legal to take marijuana products for medical reasons relatively recently. And, in 2018, a CBD oil for seizures called Epidiolex was approved by the FDA to treat certain epilepsy syndromes (CBD is a chemical found in cannabis plants).

Around one third of people with epilepsy have drug-resistant epilepsy, which means traditional medication does not control their seizures. For people with drug-resistant epilepsy (also known as refractory epilepsy), the possibility that medical marijuana could help them reduce or even end seizures is, of course, exciting.

Here is everything we know about Epidiolex, CBD oil and seizures.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol – known as CBD – is a chemical found in cannabis plants and it is believed to help treat a number of conditions. CBD can be extracted from marijuana plants and it is usually turned into an oil that you swallow. The FDA has approved one brand of CBD oil – Epidiolex – for the treatment of people with Lennox Gastaut Syndrome, Dravet Syndrome, and tuberous sclerosis complex.

How does CBD oil stop seizures?

Researchers are still not exactly sure how CBD affects seizures, but it may help protect brain cells from becoming ‘over excited’ in a few different ways.

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Epidiolex – a CBD oil for seizures

In 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of a new drug called Epidiolex for the treatment of three forms of epilepsy:

The medication was approved after several trials showed a significant reduction in seizures for people with these conditions (in combination with their existing anti-epilepsy drugs).

If you or someone you know has Dravet Syndrome, tuberous sclerosis complex or Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome and you would like to use this CBD oil for seizures, talk to your epilepsy specialist about Epidiolex.

Buying CBD oil for seizures at health food stores

It is possible to purchase CBD oil from health food stores in most, but not all, US states (the rules vary, so you should always check with your healthcare provider). Many companies promote the use of CBD oil for a range of conditions – from anxiety to insomnia to chronic pain. However, the Epidiolex brand is the only CBD oil that is FDA-approved to treat seizures.

If you wish to purchase CBD oil for seizures, you should always speak with your doctor first.

Side effects and interactions between CBD oil and seizure medicine

While Epidiolex (and other CBD oils) may provide some relief from seizures, it should always be taken with caution and under guidance from a medical professional. This is because of:

  • Side effects: CBD oil can cause sleepiness, diarrhea, fatigue, decreased appetite and, potentially, liver damage
  • Interactions: CBD oil may interact with other anti-epilepsy drugs. People taking valproic acid may see an increase in liver enzymes which could cause liver damage, while people taking Clobazam may feel especially tired

Cautious optimism about CBD oil for seizures

It is always positive to learn about a new treatment for epilepsy, and the potential benefits of CBD oil Epidiolex for seizures are exciting. However, we are still learning about how CBD affects people with epilepsy, so until we know more it should not be seen as a replacement for standard treatments.

If you would like to find out more about Epidiolex, CBD oil and seizures, speak to your doctor about how it might work for you and whether it is safe for you to try it.

Treating Epilepsy with CBD Oil

Galveston resident Trysten Pearson, who has epilepsy, experienced his first seizure in 2013 when he was 12 years old. But last summer, his mother Shena Pearson explained, his condition began to deteriorate quickly.

Despite taking a slew of medications, and despite having a device implanted under the skin of his chest that sends electrical impulses to his brain to reduce the number and severity of his seizures, Trysten’s symptoms persisted.

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He often felt nauseous and he’d vomit every few days. Because exercise triggered his seizures, his school stopped allowing him to participate in physical education, leading to weight gain. His grades were dropping and his memory was fading, too.

“Because of these horrific seizures, when I show him photos from when he was younger, his memory is completely lost,” Shena explained. “Sometimes, he looks at a photo from his past, and he just bawls. He says, ‘It’s unfair to me that my history is gone.’”

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But this spring, Trysten’s luck finally turned, thanks to a treatment that has become available to him and thousands of other epilepsy patients across the state.

“My life has changed so much,” said Trysten, who turns 17 in July.

Teachers told Shena that Trysten was less distracted at school and that his performance had improved. In his first 30 days on his new treatment, he had just one seizure. He hasn’t felt this well for the past three years.

And it’s all thanks, the Pearsons say, to cannabis.

“I really wanted this medicine to work because of how many times pills have failed me,” said Trysten, who takes drops of the oil orally. “Once I started taking it, I felt so much better. I don’t have seizures.”

For the Pearsons, cannabis was a last resort to relieve Trysten’s epilepsy after years of other treatments failed to provide relief.

They were astounded by how quickly, and how well, the treatment worked.

Across Texas, doctors and patients are now finally able to take advantage of a three-year-old law that makes cannabidiol oil, or CBD oil, available to some epilepsy patients. CBD oil is derived from the cannabis plant, also known as marijuana. CBD oil provides symptom relief without intoxicating effects.

A different substance in the plant, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is responsible for the high associated with cannabis.

In June 2015, Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law the Texas Compassionate Use Act after it passed both chambers of the state legislature by wide, bipartisan margins. But it wasn’t until late 2017 that the state issued full licenses to the only three businesses in Texas that can now legally provide CBD oil to prescribed patients.

Meanwhile, doctors have been slow to sign up for the program as they navigate the new law. As of late June, just 42 physicians across Texas were registered with the state to become CBD oil prescribers, including 12 in Harris County, though not all are prescribing CBD oil at this point. According to the Epilepsy Foundation of Texas, approximately 149,000 Texans have been diagnosed with the form of epilepsy that would make them eligible for the program.

For many who have used CBD oil, the newly available treatment has provided relief when all else failed. About two thirds of epilepsy patients will respond to the first or second medicine they’re given for epilepsy. But once an epilepsy patient has taken two different medicines without relief, the odds that a third medication will work are less than 1 percent, doctors say. That leaves other options, such as special diets, surgeries, device implementation—or CBD oil.

“This can be really beneficial to patients,” said Michael Watkins, M.D., assistant professor of pediatric neurology with McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). Watkins works at the Pediatric Epilepsy Clinic at UTHealth, where about 20 patients have been prescribed CBD oil. He said the stigma associated with taking medicine derived from cannabis is fading.

“Most people are looking for anything beneficial to prevent their kids from having seizures,” Watkins said.

Doctors, patients and advocates are quick to point out CBD oil isn’t a miracle cure. It doesn’t eradicate epilepsy and it doesn’t help everyone. But for some patients, it can help eliminate or reduce their symptoms, and it may allow them to ease off of other drugs that have serious side effects, including anemia, low platelet levels, liver failure, pancreatitis, allergic reactions and suicidal tendencies.

Before the Texas law took effect, many patients were trying CBD oil on their own by visiting other states or ordering it online, which is a legal gray area. The problem with that, doctors say, is it’s difficult to determine the precise potency of the drug the patient is receiving.

“It’s kind of risky, but these parents and families are desperate for their kids,” said Gretchen Von Allmen, M.D., chief of pediatric epilepsy with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth and a pediatric neurologist at Memorial Hermann-TMC.

Under the state’s compassionate use law, patients’ medicine must contain at least 10 percent CBD oil and no more than 0.5 percent THC. For context, recreational marijuana might measure 20 percent THC. Those restrictions ensure Texas CBD oil makers maximize the compounds that provide symptom relief while minimizing those that can cause side effects or a high (Trysten Pearson, for his part, said he experiences no side effects from CBD oil).

Still, Texas’s CBD law is considered “pretty restrictive” compared to those involving cannabis in other states, said Katharine Neill Harris, Ph.D., a drug policy fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.

Texas patients must get two doctors to approve their use of CBD oil. And they are only eligible for a prescription if they have what’s called “intractable” epilepsy—meaning at least two other medications have failed to help them. Harris said she wouldn’t even call Texas’ policy a “medical marijuana” law.

Perhaps the biggest hurdle of all is price. The Pearsons pay $350 per month for Trysten’s CBD oil—a typical amount—and the cost isn’t covered by insurance. That’s unlikely to change, experts say, as long as the federal government views cannabis as a Schedule I drug with no accepted medical use. In May, a federal appeals court sided with the Drug Enforcement Administration, ruling that CBD oil is a Schedule I controlled substance. But in June, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Epidiolex, a CBD oral solution to treat seizures associated with rare and severe forms of epilepsy.

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Morris Denton, CEO of Compassionate Cultivation, which provides the CBD oil used by the Pearson family, has launched a discount program with the Epilepsy Foundation Texas to help subsidize CBD oil costs for low-income Texans. So far, the program has served 12 of its approximate 300 customers.

Meanwhile, the Texas law doesn’t permit people with any diagnosis besides intractable epilepsy to use CBD oil, even though some other states allow those with multiple sclerosis, late-stage cancer, Crohn’s disease and other conditions to access CBD oil or medical marijuana. That has frustrated some patients and advocates, but skeptics say more research must be done to evaluate whether and how CBD oil can treat those illnesses.

“Now that the people of Texas are seeing the real impact of this medicine, not just the potential impact, we need to figure out how to get it into other people’s hands that are as deserving as people with intractable epilepsy,” Denton said. “That’s up to the legislature to figure out how to make that happen.”

Seizures are shared.
Now hope is too.

Families share everything. For many, that includes the fears and frustrations of living with seizures. With seizure reduction from EPIDIOLEX, families can now share something else: hope.

EPIDIOLEX is the first and only FDA-approved prescription cannabidiol (CBD) to treat seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), Dravet syndrome, or tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) in patients 1 year of age or older.

EPIDIOLEX results

EPIDIOLEX significantly reduced seizures in people living with LGS, Dravet syndrome, or TSC for whom multiple previous antiseizure medicines did not work well.

Getting started on EPIDIOLEX

Learn about getting your prescription and the insurance process, dosing, administration, and more.

Helpful resources

Learn more about CBD, and download a doctor discussion guide and other helpful tools and worksheets, including dosing and medication guides.

A series about navigating the complexities of living with epilepsy

Greg Grunberg hosts The Care Giver

Join Greg, actor and advocate for his son living with epilepsy, as he travels across the country to help tell the stories of caregivers of families living with rare forms of epilpesy. The caregivers get an unforgettable day of care and Greg gets to learn about their challenges and hopes along the way. The Care Giver series is full of incredible stories of caregivers from diagnosis to starting on EPIDIOLEX that will provide you strength and hope in knowing you’re not alone on this journey.

Important Safety Information

What is the Most Important Information I Should Know About EPIDIOLEX (cannabidiol)?
Do not take if you are allergic to cannabidiol or any of the ingredients in EPIDIOLEX. EPIDIOLEX may cause liver problems. Your doctor may order blood tests to check your liver before you start taking EPIDIOLEX and during treatment. In some cases, EPIDIOLEX treatment may need to be stopped. Call your doctor right away if…

Indications

What is EPIDIOLEX (cannabidiol)?
EPIDIOLEX is a prescription medicine that is used to treat seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, Dravet syndrome, or tuberous sclerosis complex … in patients 1 year of age and older. It is not known if EPIDIOLEX is safe and effective in children under 1 year of age.

Important Safety & Indications Important Safety Information & Indications

What is the Most Important Information I Should Know About EPIDIOLEX (cannabidiol)?

Do not take if you are allergic to cannabidiol or any of the ingredients in EPIDIOLEX.

EPIDIOLEX may cause liver problems. Your doctor may order blood tests to check your liver before you start taking EPIDIOLEX and during treatment. In some cases, EPIDIOLEX treatment may need to be stopped. Call your doctor right away if you start to have any of these signs and symptoms of liver problems during treatment with EPIDIOLEX :

  • loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting
  • fever, feeling unwell, unusual tiredness
  • yellowing of the skin or the whites of the eyes (jaundice)
  • itching
  • unusual darkening of the urine
  • right upper stomach area pain or discomfort

EPIDIOLEX may cause you to feel sleepy, which may get better over time. Other medicines (e.g., clobazam) or alcohol may increase sleepiness. Do not drive, operate heavy machinery, or do other dangerous activities until you know how EPIDIOLEX affects you.

Like other antiepileptic drugs, EPIDIOLEX may cause suicidal thoughts or actions in a very small number of people, about 1 in 500. Call a healthcare provider right away if you have any signs of depression or anxiety, thoughts about suicide or self-harm, feelings of agitation or restlessness, aggression, irritability, or other unusual changes in behavior or mood, especially if they are new, worse, or worry you.

Take EPIDIOLEX exactly as your healthcare provider tells you. Do not stop taking EPIDIOLEX without first talking to your healthcare provider. Stopping a seizure medicine suddenly can cause serious problems.

What Else Should I Know When Taking EPIDIOLEX?

The most common side effects of EPIDIOLEX include increase in liver enzymes, sleepiness, decreased appetite, diarrhea, fever, vomiting, feeling very tired and weak, rash, sleep problems, and infections.

EPIDIOLEX may affect the way other medicines work, and other medicines may affect how EPIDIOLEX works. Do not start or stop other medicines without talking to your healthcare provider. Tell healthcare providers about all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbal supplements, and cannabis-based products.

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What Additional Information Applies to Women?

If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, EPIDIOLEX may harm your unborn baby. You and your healthcare provider will have to decide if you should take EPIDIOLEX while you are pregnant.

If you become pregnant while taking EPIDIOLEX, talk to your healthcare provider about registering with the North American Antiepileptic Drug Pregnancy Registry (by calling 1-888-233-2334). The purpose of this registry is to collect information about the safety of antiepileptic medicines during pregnancy.

Because many medicines like EPIDIOLEX are passed into breast milk, talk to your healthcare provider about the best way to feed your baby while taking EPIDIOLEX.

What is EPIDIOLEX (cannabidiol)?

EPIDIOLEX is a prescription medicine that is used to treat seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, Dravet syndrome, or tuberous sclerosis complex in patients 1 year of age and older.

It is not known if EPIDIOLEX is safe and effective in children under 1 year of age.

Please refer to the EPIDIOLEX Medication Guide and Instructions for Use for additional important information.

You are encouraged to report side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch, or call 1-800-FDA-1088. You may also contact Jazz Pharmaceuticals at 1-833-424-6724.

Important Safety Information

What is the Most Important Information I Should Know About EPIDIOLEX (cannabidiol)?
Do not take if you are allergic to cannabidiol or any of the ingredients in EPIDIOLEX. EPIDIOLEX may cause liver problems. Your doctor may order blood tests to check your liver before you start taking EPIDIOLEX and during treatment. In some cases, EPIDIOLEX treatment may need to be stopped. Call your doctor right away if…

Indications

What is EPIDIOLEX (cannabidiol)?
EPIDIOLEX is a prescription medicine that is used to treat seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, Dravet syndrome, or tuberous sclerosis complex … in patients 1 year of age and older. It is not known if EPIDIOLEX is safe and effective in children under 1 year of age.

Important Safety & Indications Important Safety Information & Indications

What is the Most Important Information I Should Know About EPIDIOLEX (cannabidiol)?

Do not take if you are allergic to cannabidiol or any of the ingredients in EPIDIOLEX.

EPIDIOLEX may cause liver problems. Your doctor may order blood tests to check your liver before you start taking EPIDIOLEX and during treatment. In some cases, EPIDIOLEX treatment may need to be stopped. Call your doctor right away if you start to have any of these signs and symptoms of liver problems during treatment with EPIDIOLEX :

  • loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting
  • fever, feeling unwell, unusual tiredness
  • yellowing of the skin or the whites of the eyes (jaundice)
  • itching
  • unusual darkening of the urine
  • right upper stomach area pain or discomfort

EPIDIOLEX may cause you to feel sleepy, which may get better over time. Other medicines (e.g., clobazam) or alcohol may increase sleepiness. Do not drive, operate heavy machinery, or do other dangerous activities until you know how EPIDIOLEX affects you.

Like other antiepileptic drugs, EPIDIOLEX may cause suicidal thoughts or actions in a very small number of people, about 1 in 500. Call a healthcare provider right away if you have any signs of depression or anxiety, thoughts about suicide or self-harm, feelings of agitation or restlessness, aggression, irritability, or other unusual changes in behavior or mood, especially if they are new, worse, or worry you.

Take EPIDIOLEX exactly as your healthcare provider tells you. Do not stop taking EPIDIOLEX without first talking to your healthcare provider. Stopping a seizure medicine suddenly can cause serious problems.

What Else Should I Know When Taking EPIDIOLEX?

The most common side effects of EPIDIOLEX include increase in liver enzymes, sleepiness, decreased appetite, diarrhea, fever, vomiting, feeling very tired and weak, rash, sleep problems, and infections.

EPIDIOLEX may affect the way other medicines work, and other medicines may affect how EPIDIOLEX works. Do not start or stop other medicines without talking to your healthcare provider. Tell healthcare providers about all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbal supplements, and cannabis-based products.

What Additional Information Applies to Women?

If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, EPIDIOLEX may harm your unborn baby. You and your healthcare provider will have to decide if you should take EPIDIOLEX while you are pregnant.

If you become pregnant while taking EPIDIOLEX, talk to your healthcare provider about registering with the North American Antiepileptic Drug Pregnancy Registry (by calling 1-888-233-2334). The purpose of this registry is to collect information about the safety of antiepileptic medicines during pregnancy.

Because many medicines like EPIDIOLEX are passed into breast milk, talk to your healthcare provider about the best way to feed your baby while taking EPIDIOLEX.

What is EPIDIOLEX (cannabidiol)?

EPIDIOLEX is a prescription medicine that is used to treat seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, Dravet syndrome, or tuberous sclerosis complex in patients 1 year of age and older.

It is not known if EPIDIOLEX is safe and effective in children under 1 year of age.

Please refer to the EPIDIOLEX Medication Guide and Instructions for Use for additional important information.

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