Curt’s Cannabis Corner: CBD For Epilepsy

Welcome to Season 2, Episode 2 of Curt’s Cannabis Corner, an education series from technical writer Curt Robbins at Higher Learning LV and MJNews Network intended for cannabis and hemp professionalsand the enterprise organizations that employ themwho wish to gain a better understanding of the nuanced biochemistry, volatile business environment, and detailed regulatory oversight of this newly legal herb. 

This week, readers learn about the recent scientific investigative work of Dr. Nicolas Schlienz, a research scientist and clinical psychologist. Schlienz was recently appointed to the position of Research Director for Realm of Caring, a pioneering non-profit cannabinoid research organization based in Colorado Springs with ties to the popular vertically integrated brand Charlotte’s Web.  


CURT’S

CANNABIS

CORNER 

CBD

For

Epilepsy

 

By Curt Robbins

 


 

Dr. Nicolas Schlienz & CBD for Epilepsy

In July 2021, Schlienz coauthored a study entitled “Cross-sectional and Longitudinal Evaluation of Cannabinoid (CBD) Product Use and Health Among People with Epilepsy” that was published in the peer-reviewed journal Epilepsy & Behavior

“This study represents a refreshing collaboration of scientists, clinicians, patients, and advocates,” said Jay Salpekar, MD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology at Johns Hopkins University. Salpekar said that the study affirms that “cannabinoid products have value in the treatment of epilepsyas well as associated neuropsychiatric conditions.”

The study observed that cannabis “and select chemicals found in the cannabis plant have received significant clinical attention as evidence accumulates suggesting potential utility for varied health conditions.” It noted that multiple recent studies have “demonstrated the safety and efficacy of CBD in the reduction of seizures for several specific epilepsy syndromes.”

The study stated that the efficacy of CBD for those who suffer epilepsy goes beyond seizure control. “CBD products may prove valuable for their effects on psychosocial function and psychiatric health,” stating that a variety of behavior issues, including psychiatric disorders, are “overrepresented among people with epilepsy.”   

This study is of importance because it was conducted on human participants, not in test tubes or on animal subjects. Participants were “predominantly Caucasian (74 percent) with a roughly even split by gender (55 percent female), an average of 21 years old (51 percent were under 18), and the majority (90 percent) had no history of non-medicinal (‘recreational’) cannabis use.” 

93 percent of the study participants reported epilepsy as their primary medical condition. “The other seven percent reported epilepsy secondary to cancer, autoimmune conditions, neuropsychiatric conditions, chronic pain, insomnia/sleep disorders, or other conditions.” 

How They Did It 

The study participants employed a variety of cannabis-based products in the treatment of their epilepsy, including inflammation-reducing CBD, psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and several other cannabinoids that spanned anti-inflammatory cannabigerol (CBG), relaxant and sedative cannabinol (CBN), anti-nausea agent cannabidiolic acid (CBDA; the acidic precursor to CBD), and tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV; the varin version of THC), which is known to reduce appetite. 

“For purpose of analysis, it is assumed that these participants were using an artisanal CBD product. A subset of artisanal CBD users reported also using known THC-dominant products containing high concentrations of both CBD and THC or products in which the primary chemical constituent was a minor cannabinoid such as CBG, CBN, tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THC-A), CBD-A, or THC-V.”

The study also found the safety profile of CBD to be acceptable for patients and consumers, particularly for those using it to treat epilepsy. “Among the 280 baseline artisanal CBD users, the majority did not report an adverse effect.” 

What They Found

For those who suffer epilepsy and are seeking relief from CBD, the results of this scientific investigation reveal potentially limited efficacy of this popular cannabinoid for seizure management specifically. “No group differences were observed in seizure control based on self-reported number of past month seizures,” concluded the study’s authors.

Elaborated the scientists: “Seizure control did not differ based on artisanal CBD product use in this study. This may be related to a number of factors, including those that could not be controlled in [an] observational setting.”

Significant CBD Benefits Identified

However, the researchers noted that participants enjoyed a range of significant benefits from CBD, including “generally higher quality of life, lower psychiatric symptom scores, and improved sleep.” The study also reported that “artisanal CBD users” displayed considerably “better epilepsy medication tolerability.”    

Concluded the study, “Compared with controls, artisanal CBD users had greater health satisfaction.” It also found that the CBD-using epilepsy patients who participated in the research displayed “lower anxiety and depression.”

Despite its efficacy for many of the symptoms that accompany epilepsy, including psychological disorders like anxiety, depression, and insomnia, this particular study did not find that the cannabinoid CBD lowered the incidence or severity of seizure activity as experienced by those with epilepsy. 

Based on the observational and participant self-report nature of the study, the scientists noted that their results may be influenced by the loss of control that is inherent in observation research of this type. 

Realm of Caring Appoints Research Director to Oversee Groundbreaking Cannabis Data Registry and Medical Studies

Under the Leadership of Nicolas Schlienz, Ph.D., and its Scientific Advisory Board, the Organization Publishes New Real-World Study on Epilepsy and CBD

 

COLORADO: –Realm of Caring, a nonprofit dedicated to cannabinoid research, has appointed Nicolas Schlienz, Ph.D., as its Research Director, a new role in the organization’s leadership. His first initiative is co-authoring an original study on epilepsy using survey data gathered from RoC’s innovative Observational Research Registry.

Schlienz, a clinical psychologist, led the development of the ORR as a postdoctoral research fellow at Johns Hopkins University. The ORR is a web-based research platform open to adults and adult caregivers of dependents who are, or are considering, the use of cannabis or hemp products for therapeutic purposes. The aim is to better understand the impact that therapeutic use of such products has on individual health, functioning and quality of life.

“There are numerous obstacles to exploring the therapeutic potential of cannabis due to its classification as a Schedule I controlled substance,” Schlienz said. “Research opportunities such as the ORR expand the existing scientific knowledge base to better inform clinical decision making, and also dispels the stigma surrounding medicinal cannabis use.”

Schlienz and colleagues have published a paper summarizing ORR data from individuals with epilepsy in the medical journal Epilepsy & Behavior. The longitudinal study showed that individuals who used artisanal cannabidiol (CBD) products reported better quality of life, lower psychiatric symptom severity and fewer medication-related adverse events compared with those not using CBD.

“This study represents a refreshing collaboration of scientists, clinicians, patients and advocates. The results affirm what has been suspected for a long time, that cannabinoid products have value in the treatment of epilepsy as well as associated neuropsychiatric conditions,” said Jay Salpekar, MD, an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology at Johns Hopkins University. “It is our hope that this study may embolden clinicians and patients to effectively partner in considering these treatments.”

Based on these findings, he and study co-author Ryan Vandrey, Ph.D., plan to conduct a controlled clinical trial to further understand the effects of CBD in epilepsy treatment.

Study: Artisanal CBD Preparations Associated With Reduced Seizure Activity In Epileptic Children

TENNESSEE: Cannabidiol administration is associated with a significant reduction in seizure frequency in patients with drug-resistant pediatric epilepsy, according to data published in the journal Epilepsy & Behavior.

Vanderbilt University researchers retrospectively assessed the impact of the adjunctive use of grey-market CBD products in a cohort of 108 children with refractory epilepsy.

Authors reported: “The addition of CBD resulted in 39 percent of patients having a greater than 50 percent reduction in seizures, with 10 percent becoming seizure-free. … No patients achieved CBD monotherapy, although the weaning of other antiepileptic drugs became possible in 22 percent of patients. … Increased alertness and improved verbal interactions were reported in 14 percent of patients in the CBD group.”

They concluded: “These data add additional support for the use of artisanal CBD in the treatment of drug-resistant epilepsy. … [O]utside of seizure control, CBD use was also associated with increased alertness, improved verbal communication, better social interactions, and better mood, suggesting additional benefits to use of CBD. … In summary, these findings support efficacy of artisanal CBD preparations in seizure reduction with few significant side effects.”

Phase III clinical trials have previously demonstrated the safety and efficacy of standardized, herbal CBD extracts (Epidiolex) in pediatric patients with uncontrollable seizures. Later this year, regulators at the US Food and Drug Administration will undertake a ‘priority review’ of this data to determine whether to grant Epidiolex market approval.


For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, “Efficacy of artisanal preparations of cannabidiol for the treatment of epilepsy: Practical experiences of a tertiary medical center,” appear in Epilepsy & Behavior.