Cannabidiol Shows Promise for Pediatric Movement Disorders

Complex movement disorders are neurological diseases that cause atypical movements and postures that interfere with a person’s desired movements. Children with these disorders might experience too much or too little movement or have coordination problems. Such abnormal movements and postures can be associated with chronic pain, orthopedic problems, feeding difficulties, sleep difficulties, and speech and language difficulties. The goal of complex movement disorder treatments is improved quality of life. Yet, treatment options are limited, with some causing serious side effects in children.  

However, a recent small study suggests that CBD given in addition to regularly prescribed medications may be beneficial for children with complex movement disorders. Over a five-month period, two products of cannabidiol-enriched oil (6:1 CBD:THC or 20:1 CBD:THC) were compared in children ages 1 to 17 years of age. Significant improvements in spasticity and dystonia (i.e., involuntary muscle contractions), sleep difficulties, pain severity, and quality of life were observed in the total study group, regardless of treatment assignment. All participants demonstrated mood and appetite improvement, and those given the formulation with a higher amount of THC also demonstrated sleep improvement. Adverse effects were rare, however, two patients experienced worsening of seizures. 

Although these results are promising, larger, controlled studies are needed to assess the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of cannabinoids in children with complex movement disorders.Citation: Libzon S, Schleider LB, Saban N, Levit L, Tamari Y, Linder I … Blumkin L. Medical cannabis for pediatric moderate to severe complex motor disorders. J Child Neurol. 2018 Aug; 33(9): 565-571.

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