Cannabinoids Modulate Epileptic Seizures, Study Says

Thursday, 02 October 2003

Richmond, VA: Administration of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, "completely abolished" spontaneous seizures in an animal model of epilepsy, according to findings published this week in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.

Authors also noted that endogenous cannabinoids, marijuana-like substances produced naturally by the human body, appeared to play a role in regulating seizure duration and frequency.

"These data indicate not only the anticonvulsant activity of exogenously applied cannabinoids, but also suggest that endogenous cannabinoid[s] ... modulate seizure termination and duration," researchers concluded.

The study is the first to examine the role of marijuana and the endogenous cannabinoid system in an animal model of epilepsy characterized by spontaneous, recurrent seizures.

Previous animal studies have demonstrated that cannabinoids possess anticonvulsant activity; however, a handful of human trials examining the effects of the cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) on epileptic-induced seizures have yielded mixed results. A recent trial in England of cannabis extracts on an in vitro form of epilepsy found that extracts performed more effectively than THC alone in treating symptoms of the disease.

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Senior Policy Analyst, at (202) 483-5500. Abstracts of the study are available online at: