UAB study affirms benefits of CBD oil, a product derived from cannabis, for patients with treatment-resistant epilepsy

UAB School of Medicine Division of Epilepsy. UAB study affirms benefits of CBD oil, a product derived from cannabis, for patients with treatment-resistant epilepsy
UAB School of Medicine Division of Epilepsy. Photo via UAB’s website

Good news! Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham conducted a study on the benefits of CBD oil, or cannabidiol, as a treatment for patients with intractable epilepsy who do not respond to traditional therapies. The results are in, and CBD oil significantly reduced the frequency, severity and adverse effects of seizures in participants.

Birmingham, Alabama. Benefits of CBD oil. Cannabidiol molecule. Image via PubChem.
Cannabidiol (CBD oil) molecule. Image via PubChem
By The Numbers
  • 132 patients, 72 children and 60 adults, with treatment-resistant epilepsy
  • 48 weeks of CBD oil treatment
  • 60+ percent decrease in seizure frequency with CBD oil
  • 40.8 vs. 33.2—average adverse events profile (AEP) score at the beginning versus the end of trial period
  • 80.7 vs. 39.2—average score on the Chalfont Seizure Severity Scale at the beginning versus the end of trial period

When patients checked in for the first time, 12 weeks after researchers recorded their baseline measurements, the data showed the benefits of CBD oil. Those results held steady at every checkpoint throughout a 48-week study period.

“This is a highly significant reduction in the number of seizures that the majority of patients experienced, nearly a two-thirds reduction across the entire study population. Some patients experienced an even greater reduction of seizure frequency.”

Martina Bebin, M.D., professor in the Department of Neurology in the School of Medicine and principal investigator of the pediatric arm of the study
UAB study affirms benefits of CBD oil, a product derived from cannabis, for patients with treatment-resistant epilepsy
Jerzy Szaflarski, M.D., Ph.D., and Martina Bebin, M.D., principal investigators of the UAB CBD oil study. Photos via UAB

Patients in the study received pharmaceutical-grade CBD oil produced by Greenwich Biosciences, known as Epidiolex. It contains only trace amounts of THC, so it does not cause the psychotropic effects we commonly associate with cannabis.

Related:Birmingham opens first CBD establishment, a store with health products derived from cannabis

Background

The study launched in 2015 after the Alabama legislature passed Carly’s Law. That act authorized the UAB Epilepsy Center and Children’s of Alabama to study cannabidiol. The UAB research team published its results in the journal Epilepsy and Behavior.

In June, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Epidiolex for seizures associated with two rare and severe forms of epilepsy:

  • Lennox-Gastaut syndrome
  • Dravet syndrome
Shout Out To The Research Team

These UAB researchers worked on the study to determine the benefits of CBD oil for patients with treatment-resistant epilepsy:

  • Gary Cutter, Ph.D, Department of Biostatistics, UAB School of Public Health
  • Yuliang Liu, Department of Biostatistics, UAB School of Public Health
  • Jennifer DeWolfe, D.O., UAB Department of Neurology, School of Medicine
  • Tyler Gaston, M.D., UAB Department of Neurology, School of Medicine
  • David Standaert, M.D., Ph.D., UAB Department of Neurology, School of Medicine
  • Ashley Thomas, M.D., UAB Department of Neurology, School of Medicine
  • Lawrence Ver Hoef, M.D., UAB Department of Neurology, School of Medicine
  • Leon Dure, M.D., UAB Department of Pediatrics and Children’s of Alabama
  • Pongkiat Kankirawatana, M.D., UAB Department of Pediatrics and Children’s of Alabama
  • Rani Singh, UAB Department of Pediatrics and Children’s of Alabama