According to new research, an investigational neurological treatment that is derived from cannabis could alter the blood levels of commonly used antiepileptic drugs that are used to treat epilepsy. The ongoing open label study is being conducted by investigators at the University of Alabama and the research was published in Epilepsia.

The study, which includes 39 adults and 42 children, is testing the potential of cannabidiol (CBD) as a therapy for children and adults that have difficulty in controlling their epilepsy. All patients are receiving CBD and taking seizure drugs.

Researchers checked the blood levels of the patients’ other seizure drugs to see if they changed.

Lead author Tyler Gaston MD, commented, “With any new potential seizure medication, it is important to know if drug interactions exist and if there are labs that should be monitored while taking a specific medication.”

According to Gaston, there were major changes in the levels of the drugs topiramate, clobazam, and rufinamide in both the children and adults. In the adults only, there were significant changes in zonisamide and eslicarbazepine.

Clobazam/desmethylclobazam did not show any changes outside of the normally accepted range. The adults who took clobazam also reported sedation frequently.

“While the interaction between CBD and clobazam has been established in the literature, there are currently no published human data on CBD’s potential interactions with other seizure medications,” explained Dr. Gaston. “However, given the open label and naturalistic follow-up design of this study, our findings will need to be confirmed under controlled conditions.”

“A perception exists that since CBD is plant based, that it is natural and safe; and while this may be mostly true, our study shows that CBD, just like other antiepileptic drugs, has interactions with other seizure drugs that patients and providers need to be aware of,” said Dr. Gaston.

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