Historical perspective on the medical use of cannabis for epilepsy: Ancient times to the 1980s

Epilepsy Behav. 2017 May;70(Pt B):298-301. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2016.11.033. Epub 2017 Jan 12.


There has been a dramatic surge in the interest of utilizing cannabis for epilepsy treatment in the US. Yet, access to cannabis for research and therapy is mired in conflicting regulatory policies and shifting public opinion. Understanding the current state of affairs in the medical cannabis debate requires an examination of the history of medical cannabis use. From ancient Chinese pharmacopeias to the current Phase III trials of pharmaceutical grade cannabidiol, this review covers the time span of cannabis use for epilepsy therapy so as to better assess the issues surrounding the modern medical opinion of cannabis use. This article is part of a Special Issue titled Cannabinoids and Epilepsy.

Keywords: Cannabinoids; Cannabis; Epilepsy; History; Seizure.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cannabidiol / therapeutic use
  • Cannabinoids / therapeutic use*
  • Cannabis*
  • Dronabinol / therapeutic use
  • Drug Combinations
  • Epilepsy / diagnosis
  • Epilepsy / drug therapy*
  • Epilepsy / epidemiology
  • History, Ancient
  • Humans
  • Medical Marijuana / therapeutic use*


  • Cannabinoids
  • Drug Combinations
  • Medical Marijuana
  • Cannabidiol
  • Dronabinol
  • nabiximols