Cannabinoids: is there a potential treatment role in epilepsy?

Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2015;16(13):1911-4. doi: 10.1517/14656566.2015.1074181. Epub 2015 Aug 3.


Cannabinoids have been used medicinally for centuries, and in the last decade, attention has focused on their broad therapeutic potential particularly in seizure management. While some cannabinoids have demonstrated anticonvulsant activity in experimental studies, their efficacy for managing clinical seizures has not been fully established. This commentary will touch on our understanding of the brain endocannabinoid system's regulation of synaptic transmission in both physiological and pathophysiological conditions, and review the findings from both experimental and clinical studies on the effectiveness of cannabinoids to suppress epileptic seizures. At present, there is preliminary evidence that non-psychoactive cannabinoids may be useful as anticonvulsants, but additional clinical trials are needed to fully evaluate the efficacy and safety of these compounds for the treatment of epilepsy.

Keywords: cannabidiol; cannabinoids; clinical trials; endocannabinoid; epilepsy; phytocannabinoids; seizure; treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticonvulsants / pharmacology
  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use*
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Cannabinoids / pharmacology
  • Cannabinoids / therapeutic use*
  • Epilepsy / drug therapy
  • Epilepsy / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Medical Marijuana
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1 / agonists
  • Seizures / drug therapy
  • Seizures / physiopathology


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Cannabinoids
  • Medical Marijuana
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1