CBD oil counteracts epilepsy

Art by Lakyn Shepard / Art Editor 

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Mallorie Turner
Staff Reporter

A new study at UAB may lead 
to millions of epilepticpatients worldwide to reduce their symptoms from the help of CBD oil. 

study was published in the Epilepsy and Behavior journal with findings on how CBD oil can benefit those suffering from seizures.  

The experiment started in 2014 when a bill known as Carly’s Law was passed, enabling UAB to analyze the effects of CBD oil, or cannabidiol, in epileptic patients. The law was named after Carly Chandler, a 4-year-old from the Birmingham area with a rare genetic disorder that causes her to have multiple seizures a day. 


The UAB Epilepsy Center tested the CBD oil, a plant-based supplement derived from the cannabis plant, on various patients.Pure CBD does not produce a high or the same psychedelic effects that can be seen in marijuana or THC. 


Dustin Chandler, Carly’s father, publicized information about the study in conjunction to info also being given on the UAB website. The first patient was enrolled in the study on April 2015 with over 100 patients actively participating. 


Among the 132 patients included in the study, 60 adults and 72 children who had been diagnosed with epilepsy were studied. Patients selected were considered refractory or intractable, meaning they had tried numerous medications yet still suffered frequent seizures.


“About 60 percent of patients had more than 50 percent seizure reduction,” said Jerzy Szaflarski, principle investigator of the study. “Of course, there were patients who were not seizure-free and did not have any improvement. A majority of patients had improvement, and our retention rate is about 80 percent, meaning 80 percent of patients are still taking the product without any major side effects.” 


Szaflarski said that patients were scored using an adverse events profile, or AEP, which is a standardized questionnaire that assesses adverse events. It is standardized with the purpose of being easier to collect and monitor patient data. 


The data presented a significant AEP decrease for all patients at the end of the study’s 12-week period compared to when the study began.  


David Standaert, Chair of the Department of Neurology, coauthored the CBD therapy study. 


Standaert was one of the researchers who worked with the state legislature and the local authorities to get Carly’s Law passed and launch the study. He also served as the chairman for the safety monitoring of the study to ensure safety ethics were in effect. 


“This was the largest trial on CBD and epilepsy done anywhere,” he said. “Its one of the first trials tested in both adults and children, and it shows a very strong protective effect against epilepsy.


Ashley Thomas,Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology, served as a coinvestigator and coauthor of the study. Thomas said she sees the data from the CBD study as new terrain for future epilepsy treatment and research. 


“With our study, we were looking at patients with a wider variety of diagnoses for different epilepsy types,” Thomas said. “We hope seeing that this [supplement] is well tolerated with medication, that it does have some effect on seizure frequencies and severities, will help guide future studies and more investigations.”

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