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Cannabidiol (Oral)

kan-a-bi-DYE-ol

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Dec 10, 2018.

Commonly used brand name(s)

In the U.S.

  • Epidiolex

Available Dosage Forms:

  • Solution

Therapeutic Class: Anticonvulsant

Chemical Class: Cannabinoid

Uses for cannabidiol

Cannabidiol is used to treat seizures in patients with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome.

Cannabidiol is available only with your doctor's prescription.

Before using cannabidiol

In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For cannabidiol, the following should be considered:

Allergies

Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to cannabidiol or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.

Pediatric

Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated pediatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of cannabidiol in children 2 years of age and older. Safety and efficacy have been established.

Geriatric

Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of cannabidiol in the elderly. However, elderly patients are more likely to have age-related liver, kidney, or heart problems, which may require caution and an adjustment in the dose for patients receiving cannabidiol.

Breastfeeding

There are no adequate studies in women for determining infant risk when using this medication during breastfeeding. Weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before taking this medication while breastfeeding.

Interactions with medicines

Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are taking cannabidiol, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.

Using cannabidiol with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.

  • Divalproex Sodium
  • Valproate Sodium
  • Valproic Acid

Interactions with food/tobacco/alcohol

Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.

Other medical problems

The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of cannabidiol. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:

  • Alcohol or drug abuse, history of or
  • Depression—Use with caution. May make these conditions worse.
  • Liver disease, moderate to severe—Use with caution. The effects may be increased because of the slower removal of the medicine from the body.

Proper use of cannabidiol

Take cannabidiol only as directed by your doctor. Do not take more of it, do not take it more often, and do not take it for a longer time than your doctor ordered.

Cannabidiol comes with a Medication Guide and patient instructions. Read and follow these instructions carefully. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.

Measure the dose with a dry, marked measuring oral syringe. Wash the dosing syringe with warm soapy water, rinse, and dry well after each use.

Dosing

The dose of cannabidiol will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of cannabidiol. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

  • For oral dosage form (oral liquid):
    • For seizures:
      • Adults and children 2 years of age and older—Dose is based on body weight and must be determined by your doctor. The dose is 2.5 milligram per kilogram (mg/kg) 2 times a day. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed and tolerated. However, the dose is usually not more than 10 mg/kg 2 times a day.
      • Children younger than 2 years of age—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.

Missed dose

If you miss a dose of cannabidiol, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses.

Storage

Keep out of the reach of children.

Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.

Ask your healthcare professional how you should dispose of any medicine you do not use.

Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.

Keep the bottle in an upright position. Do not refrigerate or freeze. Use cannabidiol within 12 weeks of first opening the bottle. Throw away any unused medicine after 12 weeks.

Precautions while using cannabidiol

It is very important that your doctor check your or your child's progress at regular visits to make sure cannabidiol is working properly. Blood tests may be needed to check for unwanted effects.

Do not suddenly stop using cannabidiol. Your doctor will need to slowly decrease your dose before you stop it completely.

Check with your doctor right away if you or your child have pain or tenderness in the upper stomach, pale stools, dark urine, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, or yellow eyes or skin. These could be symptoms of a serious liver problem.

Cannabidiol may make you or your child drowsy. Do not drive or do anything else that could be dangerous until you know how cannabidiol affects you.

Check with your doctor before using cannabidiol with alcohol or other medicines that affect the central nervous system (CNS). The use of alcohol or other medicines that affect the CNS with cannabidiol may worsen the side effects of cannabidiol, such as dizziness, poor concentration, drowsiness, unusual dreams, and trouble with sleeping. Some examples of medicines that affect the CNS are antihistamines or medicine for allergies or colds, sedatives, tranquilizers, or sleeping medicines, medicine for depression, medicine for anxiety, prescription pain medicine or narcotics, medicine for attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, medicine for seizures or barbiturates, muscle relaxants, or anesthetics, including some dental anesthetics.

Cannabidiol may cause some people to be agitated, irritable, or display other abnormal behaviors. It may also cause some people to have suicidal thoughts and tendencies or to become more depressed. Also tell your doctor if you or your child have sudden or strong feelings, such as feeling nervous, angry, restless, violent, or scared. If you or your caregiver notice any of these side effects, tell your doctor right away.

Cannabidiol may cause serious allergic reactions, including angioedema. These can be life-threatening and require immediate medical attention. Tell your doctor right away if you have a rash, itching, hoarseness, trouble breathing, trouble swallowing, or large, hive-like swelling on the face, eyelids, lips, tongue, throat, hands, legs, feet, or genitals after using cannabidiol.

Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal or vitamin supplements.

Cannabidiol side effects

Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:

More common

  • Agitation
  • chills
  • cough
  • fever
  • hoarseness
  • irritability
  • lower back or side pain
  • painful or difficult urination
  • unusual drowsiness, dullness, tiredness, weakness, or feeling of sluggishness

Less common

  • Aggression
  • anger
  • blue lips, fingernails, or skin
  • confusion
  • diarrhea
  • difficult or troubled breathing
  • dizziness
  • fast heartbeat
  • irregular, fast or slow, or shallow breathing
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea
  • stomach pain

Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

More common

  • Decreased appetite
  • lack or loss of strength
  • rash
  • trouble sleeping

Less common

  • Change in walking and balance
  • clumsiness or unsteadiness
  • decreased weight
  • drooling
  • increased saliva

Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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