Epilepsy refers to a group of disorders characterized by recurrent seizures, which can be accompanied by seizures. Cannabis and cannabis-based therapies have been shown to have beneficial effects on various types of epilepsy, through different biological mechanisms.
Most seizures are convulsive, which means that they are accompanied by seizures characterized by rapid, involuntary contractions of the muscles that can cause the entire body to shake or shake uncontrollably.
The most common type is the tonic-clonic seizure, which consists of a short period of immobility followed by an uncontrollable shaking. If the activity is severe and prolonged, seizures can damage brain tissue, especially in young children, when the brain is still developing. Dravet syndrome is only one of the types of epilepsy that appear during childhood and that can cause neurological damage
In 1947, modern researchers analyzed the anticonvulsant properties of cannabinoids. In a first study, conducted at the University of Sydney in 1974, delta-THC administered in high doses was shown to have an anticonvulsant effect in mice, which had been made to undergo seizures by administering electrical and chemical shocks. CBD was found to enhance this effect of delta-THC, although the researchers could not prove that CBD was effective on its own.
The endocannabinoid system plays an important role in regulating the duration and frequency of seizures, in fact, some researchers believe that epilepsy could occur as a result of an inherent imbalance of the endocannabinoid system.
The common cause of seizures, and non-seizures, is excessive excitation of neurons in the brain, and the area of the brain that is affected varies depending on the type of epilepsy.
Cannabis and cannabis-based therapies can actually target the cause of epilepsy and provide a neuroprotective effect that reduces the severity and frequency of symptoms.
Status epilepticus may involve seizures, or non-seizures, that either last for a period of more than five minutes each, or occur with a frequency of more than one seizure every five minutes without regaining full consciousness between them.
Status epilepticus is usually treated with benzodiazepines or barbiturates. Both classes of drugs are known to produce great weakness as a side effect, and are far from effective overall. However, there is evidence that cannabinoids, specifically CB1 receptor agonists such as anandamide, delta-THC, and the synthetic analog WIN 55.212-2, may provide increased protection against status epilepticus. In a 2006 study published in the Journal of Pharmacology, WIN 55,212-2 demonstrated the ability to completely suppress all seizures, including the prolonged episodes associated with status epilepticus. The study also noted that WIN 55.212-2 far outperformed phenytoin and phenobarbital in suppressing status epilepticus.
CB1 receptor agonists have been shown to be of fundamental importance in suppressing seizures and preventing the development of status epilepticus. Clearly, both delta-THC and CBD play an important role in controlling seizures of epilepsy.