Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Not All Forms of CBD Work as Seizure Treatments, Study Finds

By David Jagielski - Mar 2, 2020 at 10:45AM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

Patients are better off using pharmaceutical CBD than artisanal forms.

Cannabidiol (CBD) -- an active compound in cannabis -- has attracted a lot of attention in recent years for its purported health benefits, but the medical research about just what those benefits may be is still ongoing. So far, the clearest evidence that CBD has helped patients has come from its use as an anti-seizure treatment for young people with certain types of epilepsy.

Now, a study conducted out of the Children's National Hospital in Washington, D.C., has found that not all forms of CBD work the same way. "Our research indicates that pharmaceutical CBD may indeed be more effective than artisanal CBD," says the study's lead author, Dr. Nathan T. Cohen.

Artisanal products contain varying concentrations of CBD, and also contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) -- the psychoactive compound in cannabis. Pharmaceutical CBD, by contrast, contains no THC. In a study on children with epilepsy, those who used artisanal CBD actually saw a 70% increase in seizures while those who used pharmaceutical CBD had a 39% decline in seizures. 

While Cohen found the results concerning, "since many people continue to use artisanal CBD," the study was fairly small, with just 31 children and teens participating. In addition, 11 of the participants experienced side effects, and all were among the group using pharmaceutical CBD. (In the study, 22 patients were given pharmaceutical CBD; the remaining nine took artisanal CBD.)

Prescription medication.

Image source: Getty Images.

Strong demand for CBD-based medicines

Cannabis-based medicines are still a rarity in the U.S. -- the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has thus far only approved Epidiolex, a drug made by GW Pharmaceuticals (GWPH), for the treatment of certain seizures. 

The company's year-end results, released on Feb. 25, showed Epidiolex sales reaching $296.4 million during the drug's first full year on the market. GW expects more growth in 2020 as it launched Epidiolex commercially in Germany in Q4 2019 and plans to launch it in the U.K., Spain, France, and Italy this year.

Shares of GW are down more than 42% over the past year, but that's better than the 67% decline that the Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences ETF has experienced during the same period.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

GW Pharmaceuticals plc Stock Quote
GW Pharmaceuticals plc
GWPH

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
336%
 
S&P 500 Returns
115%

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 06/26/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.