Adverse Events of Cannabidiol Use in Patients with Epilepsy: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Asra Fazlollahi, Mahdi Zahmatyar, Mahta Zaredini, Behnam Golabi, Seyed Aria Nejadghaderi, Mark J.M. Sullman, Koroush Gharagozli, Ali Asghar Kolahi, Saeid Safiri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Importance: Epilepsy is one of the most common neurologic disorders globally. Cannabidiol (CBD) has been approved for the treatment of epilepsy, but its use has been associated with several different adverse events (AEs). Objective: To investigate the frequency and risk of AEs developing in patients with epilepsy who are using CBD. Data Sources: PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, and Google Scholar were searched for relevant studies published from database inception up to August 4, 2022. The search strategy included a combination of the following keywords: (cannabidiol OR epidiolex) AND (epilepsy OR seizures). Study Selection: The review included all randomized clinical trials that investigated at least 1 AE from the use of CBD in patients with epilepsy. Data Extraction and Synthesis: Basic information about each study was extracted. I2statistics were calculated using Q statistics to assess the statistical heterogeneity among the included studies. A random-effects model was used in cases of substantial heterogeneity, and a fixed-effects model was used if the I2statistic for the AEs was lower than 40%. This study was conducted according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) guideline. Main Outcomes and Measures: Frequency of each AE and risk of developing each AE in patients with epilepsy using CBD. Results: Nine studies were included. Overall incidences of 9.7% in the CBD group and 4.0% in the control group were found for any grade AEs. The overall risk ratios (RRs) for any grade and severe grade AEs were 1.12 (95% CI, 1.02-1.23) and 3.39 (95% CI, 1.42-8.09), respectively, for the CBD group compared with the control group. Compared with the control group, the CBD group had a greater risk for incidence of serious AEs (RR, 2.67; 95% CI, 1.83-3.88), AEs resulting in discontinuation (RR, 3.95; 95% CI, 1.86-8.37), and AEs resulting in dose reduction (RR, 9.87; 95% CI, 5.34-14.40). Because most of the included studies had some risk of bias (3 raised some concerns and 3 were at high risk of bias), these findings should be interpreted with some caution. Conclusions and Relevance: In this systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials, the use of CBD to treat patients with epilepsy was associated with an increased risk of several AEs. Additional studies are needed to determine the safe and effective CBD dosage for treating epilepsy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E239126
JournalJAMA Network Open
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2023


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