In 2019 the FDA approved Epidiolex (cannabidiol, also called CBD), which is made from cannabis, as an effective therapy for some forms of severe epilepsy in patients who do not respond well to traditional anti-seizure medicines. Generic medical cannabis, which includes both CBD and THC, is now widely used to treat many things such as chronic pain and anxiety in both adults and children.
Child Neurology Consultants’ board-certified Child Neurologist Dr. Karen Keough specializes in pediatric epilepsy and is highly knowledgeable about the responsible use and dispensing of CBD for medicinal purposes. Since 2018 she has served as Chief Medical Officer for Texas Original Compassionate Cultivation, one of 3 licensed dispensaries in the Texas Compassionate Use Program known as the T-CUP. In Texas, only certain diagnoses make a patient eligible to obtain medical cannabis from one of the licensed dispensaries. Patients with non-qualifying diagnoses often choose to see treatment with generic CBD, which is a derived from hemp plants. Hemp is a type of cannabis plant that has very low THC concentrations, but the products still contain THC.
Dr. Keough recently shared her thoughts on generic medical cannabis therapy for children and teenagers in an article for HealthDay that addressed its regulation (or lack of) and use without the guidance of a medical professional.
According to a poll, most people feel that CBD should be both regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and administered by prescription with a doctor’s supervision, as it can have negative side effects if not used properly, especially in children.
Dr. Keough explains that partnering with your medical provider is the best way to ensure a safe and effective treatment with generic CBD/THC. This provider can help patients access safer and higher quality products among the many options in a store or online and ensure that the dosing and directions for medical cannabis use are specifically suited to your child’s needs.
“To me that’s what my job is, as a doctor, to know how to use this medicinal product appropriately,” Dr. Keough said. She adds though that “it’s controversial in the medical world because it lacks the rigor of scientifically-based studies that get you to FDA approval, so that’s why many physicians won’t touch it.”
If you do choose to try generic medical cannabis as an alternative treatment for your child’s epilepsy, Dr. Keough urges you to research physicians who are familiar with this form of therapy.
“I can’t pretend it isn’t there, because my patients are using it whether I help them or not. And I would rather that I help them,” she said.
CNCA providers have embraced this approach. Many doctors within the practice participate in the T-CUP and frequently prescribe medical cannabis for children and teenagers for epilepsy, spasticity, and other qualifying diagnoses, often with impressive benefits. CNCA Nurse Practitioner Liz Cross, APRN, PNP-BC created a medical cannabis clinic at CNCA and collaborates with our physicians to work with families who are exploring this promising treatment for other symptoms and conditions.
Child Neurology Consultants of Austin has experience treating a wide range of neurological conditions in children and teenagers from 0 to 21 years old. To make an appointment with one of our board-certified pediatric neurologists, please contact us here.