Cannabinoids: is there a potential treatment role in epilepsy? Marijuana is a derived-product from the plant C. sativa. Cannabinoids are found in this cannabis plant and it holds the chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is the psychoactive part of cannabis that gives you a ‘high feeling’. Cannabidiol (CBD) is the non psychoactive chemical of cannabis and it is said to have anti inflammatory properties. This paper will review how the endocannabinoid system’s (ECS) regulates the synaptic transmission in both physiological and pathophysiological conditions, and how cannabinoids can suppress epilepsy and seizures. At present, there is some evidence that non-psychoactive cannabinoids may be useful as an anti inflammatory, however further research is needed to clarify their position in the treatment of epilepsy.
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The ECS is widely distributed throughout the central nervous systems and it allows cannabinoids to bind to cannabinoid receptors to work in the body. This means that the ECS has a role in regulating both physiological and pathophysiological synaptic transmissions in the brain. In this experiment, it is found that cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) is responsible for controlling neuronal hyperexcitability. This means that by antagonising the CB1 receptor, seizures could possibly be controlled. Cannabinoids have been proven to have anticonvulsant properties when mediated by CB1 receptors. This property of cannabinoids is supported by observations that epileptics self-medicate with C. sativa to control their seizures, and this has contributed to the increasing support for the legalization of medical marijuana.
Consequently, clinical studies have shown that self-medicating with C. sativa strains high in THC concentration may be contraindicated in the control of seizures due to the potential for maladaptive desensitization of CB1 function.
The anticonvulsant properties of the non-psychoactive cannabinoid, CBD, have been known for awhile now but only in recent times it has been discovered that it can be used as a therapeutic to control pediatric refractory seizures. Although a number of physiological effects of CBD in the brain have been identified, the mechanism in how it actually treats seizures is not yet known. Cannabis products, such as CBD oil, are becoming ever so popular because it can be beneficial to people with epilepsy with its potential therapeutic properties.