CBD oil, known as cannabidiol, is one of the 80 plus active cannabinoids naturally found in the cannabis or hemp plant which is legal. THC, another cannabinoid, is illegal and gives people a ‘high’. Many claims have been made that CBD can help with a range of health conditions – one of these being epilepsy. But much research on the cannabinoid is still needed to substantiate its health benefits.
Goggle box stars Steph and Dom Parker’s son, Max, has a severe form of epilepsy, and as part of Channel 4 show, Steph & Dom: Can Cannabis Save Our Son, the couple went on a mission to investigate the health claims and decide whether or not CBD can help treat their son’s life-threatening condition.
Max, 18, experienced more than 100 seizures a day as a result of his condition, which has caused damage to his brain and left him as what Dom describes as the mental age of five or six.
Both Steph and Dom are yet to find a form of medication that can effectively treat Max’s epilepsy.
But since the legalisation of medicinal cannabis in the UK at the end of last year, the couple hope this could now be the treatment they’ve been looking for.
Steph said: “It’s hit the press, now is the time for us to find out what it’a all about.”
The couple first discovered Max’s epilepsy when he was just for months old.
Dom said: “I was changing his nappy one evening and there was a funny little movement, and I thought, that’s a bit odd.”
Steph added: “It’s incredibly hard to know how to treat him. Not one of them [the treatments] has managed to get his seizures under control.”
But anecdotal evidence coming through surrounding CBD has begun raising hope for Steph and Dom.
As part of their mission to find out whether CBD will help control Max’s seizures, the couple speak to their son’s consultant at Kings College Hospital, Dr David McCormick.
He said: “There’s a lot of hype about cannabis-based products at the moment – I don’t know what the long term effects will be.”
But having said this, Dr McCormick said the quality of life CBD could offer, for example keeping seizure counts down, has promise.
He added: “I think Max is one of the groups to whom those products exist.”
By the end of the programme, after visiting similar patients to Max both in the US and the UK who have been helped by CBD, Steph and Dom decide to try Max with cannabis oil.
But rather than high street CBD, Dr McCormick advises the couple to treat Max with a pharmaceutical approved product.
Last year’s law on cannabis medicine prescriptions can only be made by specialist doctors and to patients who have exceptional clinical needs, which presents a problem to Steph and Dom wanting to try pharmaceutical approved CBD on Max.
The problem with high street CBD oils, as Dr McCormick explained, is they hold very low amounts of CBD and are unlikely to have an effect.
Many families in the UK are unable to access medicinal cannabis despite the new law, but Steph and Dom hold hope Max can be prescribed it on “compassionate grounds”.
Dom said: “The question is, will cannabis oil save our son’s life? I think i might.
“Will it cure him? No I don’t think so but we’re going to give it a try.”