Cannabinoids in the Treatment of Epilepsy: A Review


Daniel Zhou, Erin Dennis, Isha Snehal, Arun Swaminathan

Published in EMJ

August 2021



Cannabinoids have been studied for their role in the treatment of epilepsy for many years. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved them for the treatment of some refractory syndromes in 2018. Cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol are the most commonly studied cannabinoids and have been studied in great depth vis-à-vis their pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics. Studies have shown the efficacy of cannabinoids in the treatment of refractory epilepsy. A substantial amount of research has been performed exploring the interactions between cannabinoids and other conventional antiseizure medications. The exact mechanisms by which cannabinoids exert their effects on seizure control remain unclear and research into these mechanisms continues in great earnest. Cognitive changes from cannabinoids are constantly being studied and add to potential benefits from the use of these compounds. Cultural and social misconceptions and roadblocks about the use of cannabinoids persist and represent an ongoing obstacle to increasing research and therapeutic use of these compounds. This review focuses on all these aspects and of the use of these cannabinoids in the treatment of epilepsy and seeks to offer a fairly comprehensive description of the facets of cannabinoid therapy for refractory epilepsy.

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DOI: 10.33590/emj/21-000951



EMJ. 2021