We fight to improve the lives
of everyone affected by epilepsy

Research into effect of cannabis on seizures

8 Oct 2003

Ingredients in cannabis and the cannabinoid receptor protein produced
naturally in the body to regulate the central nervous system and other
bodily functions play a critical role in controlling spontaneous seizures
in epilepsy, according to a new study by researchers at Virginia
Commonwealth University

Dr Robert DeLorenzo,
professor of neurology in the VCU School of Medicine, and his team of
researchers were, three years ago, the first to show
that cannabinoids work at controlling seizures by activating a protein
as the CB1
receptor that is
found in the memory-related area of the brain, the nervous system and
tissues and organs in the body. Research has shown that the CB1 receptor
is responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis. It also is
responsible for controlling excitability and regulating relaxation.

In this study, appearing
in the
Journal of
Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
, rats were injected
with different combinations of six drugs: an extract of cannabis; two
synthetic drugs that include the key
psychoactive ingredients in cannabis; the common anticonvulsant drugs
phenobarbital and phenytoin; and a drug to block the activation of the
CB1 receptor in the brain.

The cannabis extract
and synthetic cannabis drugs completely eliminated the rats' seizures
while he phenobarbital
and phenytoin failed to completely eliminate the seizures. Injection
of the CB1 antagonist significantly increased the both the duration and
frequency of seizures, in some cases to a level of status epilepticus.

Dr DeLorenzo said:

report that cannabis has been therapeutic for them
in the treatment of a variety of ailments, including epilepsy, but the
psychoactive side effects of cannabis make its use impractical in the
treatment of epilepsy. If we can understand how cannabis works to end
seizures, we may be able to develop novel drugs that might do a better
job of treating epileptic seizures."