Updated: May 9, 2022
CannaMed Magazine Editorial Team
Nowadays, it has been demonstrated that the natural extracts of the cannabis plant have various effects on the neural circuits of the human nervous system, which has aroused interest in the research and study of their compounds in relation to a series of neurological conditions, especially those that represent an impediment for the patient during the development of their daily life, such as epilepsy, a chronic disease characterized by spontaneous seizures.
On a pathophysiological level, epilepsy manifests as excessive electrical discharges, either due to over-stimulation or lack of inhibition on a group of brain neurons, which leads to a varied spectrum of signs and symptoms, either motor such as muscle atony, involuntary muscle extension and contraction, spasms; or cognitive such as momentary loss of consciousness.
Usually, after the diagnosis; epilepsy is managed with anticonvulsant treatments to decrease or stop seizures. However, of the recorded cases of epilepsy in pediatric patients, at least 30% are classified as refractory, or resistant to the anticonvulsant treatments available, thus becoming a challenge not only for physicians while prescribing drugs, but also for patients, family members and caretakers, affecting the cognitive, social and motor development of the child, without any apparent effective solution.
Due to this, the scientific evidence of the anticonvulsant effects both in-vitro and in-vivo of cannabidiol (CBD), one of the cannabinoids of the cannabis plant, has been taken into account and clinical trials have been carried out in pediatric patients where the safety and efficacy of CBD in the reduction of seizures with motor signs have been demonstrated, due to its interaction with the receptors of the endocannabinoid system, which can result in the modulation of the processes underlying epileptogenesis.
In a survey performed on parents of children with refractory epilepsy treated with cannabidiol, they reported not only a decrease in the frequency of monthly seizures, but some confirmed the complete cessation of seizures during the treatment with CBD. Along with these comments, they also reported an improvement in the patient’s quality of life, better mood, alertness, and improved sleep.
On the other hand, THC has also shown anticonvulsant effects, however, due to the stigma of its psychoactive effect, science has prioritized the study of CBD to attend to this population of patients described previously that needed a fast, safe and effective solution for their condition.
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Report of a parent survey of cannabidiol-enriched cannabis use in pediatric treatment-resistant epilepsy [Internet] PubMed December 2013. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24237632/
Cannabis for Pediatric Epilepsy. [Internet] Journal of Clinical Neurophysiology: January 2020 – Volume 37. Available at: https://journals.lww.com/clinicalneurophys/Abstract/2020/01000/Cannabis_for_Pediatric_Epilepsy.2.aspx
The proposed mechanisms of action of CBD in epilepsy [Internet] Wiley Online Library March 2020. Available at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1684/epd.2020.1135