Drugs used for the treatment of chronic diseases can result in several changes in the body, which can be demonstrated as alterations in the response to therapy. These changes are associated with diverse effects in the normal proposed action of the medication, with respect to its efficacy and safety. The reaction of the body to the repeated treatment with chemicals over long periods can be viewed as a reduction in the response or, in contrary, an increase in sensitivity. Indeed, this is of important relevance particularly for research studies concerned with drug abuse. Importantly, an increase in drug sensitivity was previously reported for cocaine, amphetamine, morphine, and alcohol, in which they act on the central nervous system (CNS). This dimension can be also evaluated in other CNS-affecting medications, including cannabinoids.
Factors that may influence CNS sensitivity to cannabinoids
Several aspects may have the potential to affect the sensitivity of the CNS to cannabinoids. For example, the administered dose, differences in treatment, and variations in the effects of the medication. The latter includes those actions on the functions of the different organs, such as the brain. In addition, their impact on the behavioral attitudes of the person as well as cognitive defects are of a great relevance.
CNS response to cannabinoids as anticonvulsants
In the present study, the sensitivity of the CNS was investigated in the experimental setting for two major cannabinoid compounds, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). With repeated and prolonged treatment, a decrease in CNS response was observed for THC when it was used as a chemical compound to alleviate convulsions. On the other hand, the response of the CNS to CB increased with time, especially its anticonvulsant effects and its action that reduced CNS functions. In general, the changes in response to both THC and CBD were restricted inside the brain cells.
CNS sensitivity to cannabinoids may lead to the development of convulsions
Given that some chemicals can induce convulsions at distinct doses, it has been reported that such chemicals may also cause the development of convulsions at low doses when they are given repeatedly for a long time. Focusing on THC, studies have shown that its high doses increased the development of convulsions and it can augment the CNS sensitivity to other chemicals, such as amphetamine and morphine. This effect persisted for lone time even after withdrawal of the drug. Since THC is richly found in marijuana, it is important to take the suitable precautions for its usage in patients suffering from epilepsy.
Cannabinoid treatment can be associated with either a reduction or increase in CNS sensitivity in a simultaneous manner. However, the use of THC, predominantly in marijuana, may be associated with persistent excitation or increase in CNS sensitivity that is harmful to the patients with epilepsy. Future studies are needed to investigate the effects of cannabinoids on CNS sensitivity and responsiveness in the presence of other nervous system medications.