New evidence summary: Cannabis-based products to treat childhood epilepsy

Our latest evidence summary looks at research evaluating the effectiveness of Cannabidiol (CBD) for helping to control epileptic seizures in children.

Key findings:

  • Cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are two drugs derived from the cannabis plant which have been shown in experiments to have anti-epileptic properties.
  • There is evidence that THC can have harmful effects on the developing brain, research has therefore concentrated on the use of CBD as a treatment for epilepsy in children.
  • In July 2018 UK law was changed to allow medical practitioners to prescribe cannabis-based products to patients with exceptional clinical need. However, there is currently no agreement in the UK as to how ‘medicinal cannabis’ is defined.
  • Research evidence suggests some children with rare forms of childhood epilepsy (Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome and Dravet Syndrome) or epilepsy which does not respond to standard medication, may benefit from the use of cannabis-based products.
  • Grown cannabis or 'artisanal' cannabis cannot be safely used in place of prescribed cannabis-based products.
  • Any use of cannabis-based products should be under expert medical supervision.

 

You can read the full evidence summary here: Cannabis-based products to treat childhood epilepsy

Parent carers from our Family Faculty and academic experts in the field contributed to this summary. 

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