There’s been a lot of research ongoing into ways to maximize a child’s abilities after HIE. One of the treatments that have particularly stood out as promising (other than the well-tested hypothermia therapy and promising erythropoietin) is the controversial molecule Cannabidiol.
What is HIE?
HIE is a brain dysfunction caused by a reduction in the supply of oxygen to the brain and other organs (hypoxia), compounded by low blood flow to vital organs (ischemia). Encephalopathy refers to any condition that results from reduced blood and oxygen supply to the brain.
Since this is considered a brain injury, the time of the oxygen deprivation generally relates to the perinatal period, just before and just after delivery.
HIE caused by asphyxia is the leading cause of infant fatalities in the United States, as well as the primary source of severe impairments.
There are a number of symptoms associated with HIE, including:
- Meconium-stained amniotic fluid
- Low heart rate
- Poor muscle tone
- Weak breathing or no breathing at all
- Bluish or pale skin color
- Excessive acid in the blood
What is Cannabidiol?
Cannabidiol is a molecule derived from the cannabis (marijuana) plant. It doesn’t have psychoactive effects like cannabis-derived THC, and has purported anti-seizure and anti-inflammatory effects, as indicated by a U.S. NIH patent.
It is also being tested for treating epilepsy disorders, hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy and schizophrenia by firm GW Pharmaceuticals under a special legal exception for drugs intended to treat populations of fewer than 200,000 people a year.
Right now, researchers are looking into Cannabidiol’s medicinal effects, and research results are still preliminary at best, so it is very important to interpret study results with great caution. Cannabidiol has been used to treat chronic pain and seizures stemming from epilepsy in clinical research trials, and some studies provide preliminary results indicating that it may be potentially useful in treating dystonia symptoms.
How Do Researchers Theorize Cannabidiol Can Help Kids with HIE?
Cannabidiol has strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which could potentially mitigate some of the damage cascade associated with hypoxic-ischemic injury. When the brain suffers an injury, brain cells begin to die, releasing oxidating compounds into the brain that can spread damage beyond the initial site of injury.
Currently, hypothermia therapy is clinically proven to help slow the effects of this cascade, resulting in a minimization of disability, but hypothermia therapy doesn’t treat the root cause of the injury – it only slows down the spread of damage.
It’s thought that strongly antioxidant molecules may help bolster the effect of hypothermia therapy in a ‘stacking effect’ to help even further minimize the level of disability a child with HIE may have. However, further clinical trials are needed to determine whether CBD is (1) safe, (2) effective, and (3) correctly dosed before doctors and researchers can even consider recommending such a course of treatment.
It is also thought that Cannabidiol may work in mild to moderate hypoxia-ischemia, and Cannabidiol was not effective in preliminary trials involving severe hypoxia ischemia.
Legal Status of Cannabidiol
While research is ongoing on regarding the use of Cannabidiol for treatment of HIE, Cannabidiol (and all cannabis-derived substances, including hemp) are currently slated to be reclassified as a Schedule I controlled substance in January 2017, which means that possession, transport or ingestion of cannabis-derived substances is illegal. Despite ongoing research, there is much debate surrounding enforcement, legality, and the role of federal vs. states’ rights in the control and use of such substances.
For more information on the potential use of Cannabidiol in treating hypoxic-ischemic injury, please visit the following links:
Related Article: How to Increase CBD When Growing Weed
Author : Vania Silva on behalf of Tiftickjian Law Firm, P.C, a practice that represents DUI cases in Denver, Colorado.
Disclaimer: Brain research is always an ongoing process. Right now, hypothermia therapy is the standard of care for HIE. Additive or supplemental measures in addition to hypothermia are still in preclinical or clinical trials, so it is too early to say whether any of these measures will be effective, safe, or usable in a clinical setting. Because these are highly experimental findings, we caution readers that we are merely providing this information as an update on findings in the field of HIE research, rather than as a potential source of treatment information. This page is intended for educational purposes only, and is not intended to be – and should not be mistaken for – medical advice.