Cannabidiol Treatment for Neurological, Cognitive, and Psychiatric Symptoms in Sturge-Weber Syndrome

Pediatr Neurol. 2023 Feb;139:24-34. doi: 10.1016/j.pediatrneurol.2022.10.014. Epub 2022 Nov 12.


Background: A prior drug trial of cannabidiol for treatment-resistant epilepsy in patients with Sturge-Weber syndrome (SWS), a rare neurovascular condition, implicated improvements in neurological, quality of life (QOL), neuropsychologic, psychiatric, and motor outcomes.

Methods: Ten subjects with SWS brain involvement, controlled seizures, and cognitive impairments received study drug in this Johns Hopkins institutional review board-approved, open-label, prospective drug trial. Oral cannabidiol was taken for six months (dose ranged from 5 to 20 mg/kg/day). SWS neuroscore, port-wine birthmark score, QOL, and adverse events were recorded every four to 12 weeks. Neuropsychologic, psychiatric, and motor assessments were administered at baseline and six months' follow-up. Most evaluations were conducted virtually due to the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.

Results: 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 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. Neuropsychologic and other QOL and motor outcomes remained stable, with some within-subject improvements noted.

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

Keywords: Anxiety; Cannabidiol; Seizures; Sturge-Weber syndrome.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Cannabidiol* / pharmacology
  • Cannabidiol* / therapeutic use
  • Cognition
  • Humans
  • Quality of Life
  • Sturge-Weber Syndrome* / complications
  • Sturge-Weber Syndrome* / diagnosis
  • Sturge-Weber Syndrome* / drug therapy


  • Cannabidiol