Cannabidiol Treatment for Neurologic, Cognitive, and Psychiatric Symptoms in Sturge-Weber syndrome



      A prior drug trial of cannabidiol for treatment- resistant epilepsy in patients with Sturge-Weber syndrome, a rare neurovascular condition, implicated improvements in neurologic, quality of life, neuropsychological, psychiatric, and motor outcomes.


      Ten subjects with SWS brain involvement, controlled seizures, and cognitive impairments received study drug in this Johns Hopkins IRB approved, open-label, prospective drug trial. Oral cannabidiol was taken for six months (dose ranged from 5 mg/kg/day to 20 mg/kg/day). SWS neuroscore, port-wine birthmark score, quality of life, and adverse events were recorded every 4-12 weeks. Neuropsychological, psychiatric, and motor assessments were administered at baseline and six months follow-up. Most evaluations were conducted virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


      Cannabidiol was generally well tolerated. Six subjects reported mild to moderate side effects related to study drug and continued on drug; one subject withdrew early due to moderate side effects. No seizures were reported. Significant improvements in SWS neuroscore, patient- reported quality of life (QOL), anxiety and emotional regulation, and report of bimanual ability use, were noted. Migraine QOL scores were high at baseline in these subjects, and remained high. Neuropsychological, other quality of life and motor outcomes remained stable, with some within subject improvements noted.


      Further studies are needed to determine whether Epidiolex can improve quality of life and be beneficial for neurologic, anxiety, and motor impairments in SWS independent of seizure control. Large multi-centered studies are needed to extend these preliminary findings.

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