Epilepsy is one of the world's oldest recognized and prevalent neurological diseases. It has a great negative impact on patients' quality of life (QOL) as a consequence of treatment resistant seizures in about 30% of patients together with drugs' side effects and comorbidities. Therefore, new drugs are needed and cannabinoids, above all cannabidiol, have recently gathered attention. Areas covered: This review summarizes the scientific data from human and animal studies on the major cannabinoids which have been of interest in the treatment of epilepsy, including drugs acting on the endocannabinoid system. Expert commentary: Despite the fact that cannabis has been used for many purposes over 4 millennia, the development of drugs based on cannabinoids has been very slow. Only recently, research has focused on their potential effects and CBD is the first treatment of this group with clinical evidence of efficacy in children with Dravet syndrome; moreover, other studies are currently ongoing to confirm its effectiveness in patients with epilepsy. On the other hand, it will be of interest to understand whether drugs acting on the endocannabinoid system will be able to reach the market and prove their known preclinical efficacy also in patients with epilepsy.
Keywords: Cannabidiol; Dravet syndrome; FAAH; THC; cannabidivarin; childhood refractory epilepsy; endocannabinoids system.