Abstract Title:

Cognitive and behavioral effects of cannabidiol in patients with treatment-resistant epilepsy.

Abstract Source:

Epilepsy Behav. 2020 Nov 24:107558. Epub 2020 Nov 24. PMID: 33246899

Abstract Author(s):

Birgitta Metternich, Kathrin Wagner, Maximilian J Geiger, Martin Hirsch, Andreas Schulze-Bonhage, Kerstin A Klotz

Article Affiliation:

Birgitta Metternich


PURPOSE: Therapeutic use of cannabidiol (CBD) in intractable epilepsies has increased considerably over the last ten years. As more evidence for the potentially beneficial effects of CBD on different epilepsy types is emerging, it is important to monitor potential cognitive and behavioral side effects. So far, studies including standardized neuropsychological data in the context of treatment with CBD in epilepsy patients are sparse. The present open-label study examines cognitive and behavioral effects of CBD in children and adults with treatment resistant epilepsy.

METHOD: Thirty-nine patients with treatment-resistant epilepsy completed the study protocol, i.e. they were tested at baseline (T0) and after three months of CBD treatment (T1). Patients completed standardized neuropsychological tests on memory, executive functions and attention if they were capable. For cognitively impaired patients who could not complete cognitive tests, caregiver interviews were conducted and caregiver questionnaires completed.

RESULTS: Significant cognitive decline from T0 to T1 was observed on none of the included measures. There was a significant improvement on a measure of selective attention and on a caregiver-rated behavioral measure. More than 89% of all individual test results remained stable or showed reliable improvement from T0 to T1. Cognitive and behavioral changes from T0 to T1 were not significantly correlated with CBD dose. Improvements in short-term/working memory were significantly related to better therapy response.

CONCLUSION: No adverse group-level effects of CBD treatment were detected. On an individual level, most test results remained stable or were improved. Cognitive change was not related to CBD dose. The present results show that, from a cognitive and behavioral point of view, CBD seems to have an encouraging side-effect profile. The results need to be replicated with larger samples.

Study Type : Human Study

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