Cannabidiol is going mainstream with two CBD drugs getting the green light from the FDA.  Epidiolex, is a 98% pure, botanical origin CBD drug proving effective for treatment of epilepsy.  Specifically, the Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome versions.  This is not the first time the FDA has given permissions to a CBD drug.  Back in 2015, the FDA put 100% pure CBD via intravenous solution for newborns suffering lack of oxygen on the fast track to get the product to market.  Both drugs are from British drug manufacturers GW Pharmaceuticals.

An pharmaceutical grade grow operation. Photograph by Tim Bishop. 10th November 2003

CBD for Epilepsy: History of Treatment

If it wasn’t for so many success stories, especially for epilepsy patients, CBD would not be getting a second look from the FDA.  Historically, since 2,900 B.C., ancient Chinese remedies employ cannabis to treat epilepsy.  3,000 years later, records in ancient Arabia show cannabis usage for epilepsy again.  More recently, in the 1800’s in Great Britain, cannabis is an epilepsy treatment. For many years, out of options patients (and parents of patients) have been self-prescribing CBD to help manage their seizures.  Although current treatments are deemed “unsanctioned” by the WHO, thousands have already sought treatment and both the WHO and FDA are working together to change this status.

cbd for epilepsy
A depiction of an ancient Arabian physician at work.

CBD for Epilepsy: The Epidiolex Success

In an effort to wrangle in home remedies,  there is now a development and pre-clincal trials of a prescription CBD.  CBD may soon be a prescription epilepsy drug.  From the pre-clinical trials, we see an alarming rate of success.  In one trial, of those taking CBD for their seizures, 50% saw dramatic seizure reduction versus the control in a double blind study.  This also came with a notably mild side effect profile, in keeping with the World Health Report‘s pre-preview of cannabis where they deemed the compound “generally well tolerated with a good safety profile good side effect profile.


CBD for Epilepsy: What comes next?

Epidiolex is currently in Phase 3 testing whose application to the FDA was panel recommended for approval unanimously. The outcomes of the initial studies have been positive, in keeping with previous study findings.  GW Pharmaceuticals hopes to have Epidiolex available for prescription by the second half of 2018 according to their website.


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