In the past few years, just such a cure has seemingly presented itself. Amid the less common remedies that can be found on the internet—special diets, meditation, biofeedback, surgical implants—a new product has recently gained prominence: CBD oil (sometimes known simply as “hemp oil”), so named for its chief chemical compound, cannabidiol, which occurs naturally in cannabis plants. In online forums and news articles, CBD has been hailed as a new frontier in epilepsy treatment, with parents testifying that it managed to stop their children’s seizures when nothing else could.
While the laws vary, they generally approve CBD oil as legal for treating a range of epileptic conditions at various concentrations. A full list of states that have CBD-specific laws is available here.
- ‘Cannabinoids as Antioxidants and Neuroprotectants’ (Patent # 6,630,507) held by the United States Department of Health and Human Services Team PlusCBD Oil, CV Sciences Inc.
But all was not well. Harper has continued to experience health issues related to her condition. And seven months after starting to use CBD oil, Harper’s seizures returned— although not as frequently as before. Penny uses eleven iPhone reminders to keep track of Harper’s daily regimen of medications and food, and she records all of Harper’s seizures in a thickly bound black book. But as her parents continue to closely monitor Harper’s health and adjust her medications accordingly, her doctors are tightly limited in the advice they can offer when it comes to CBD oil. “There’s no research on this product, so they don’t say it’s good or bad. They just say, ‘Don’t stop giving it,’” Penny told me.
Nussenbaum convinced Guy, GW’s cofounder, to let Sam try GW’s purified cannabidiol, an epic process that Fred Vogelstein wrote about in Wired in 2015. In May of 2013, Sam became the first person to take the drug now known as Epidiolex.
"CBD is kind of a tricky drug because it's not very well absorbed orally," Welty explained. "Less than 20 percent of the drug is absorbed orally. If it isn't made in the right way, you may not be getting much drug into your systemic circulation."
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