The anticonvulsant effects of cannabidiol in experimental models of epileptic seizures: From behavior and mechanisms to clinical insights

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2020 Apr:111:166-182. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2020.01.014. Epub 2020 Jan 16.


Epilepsy is a neurological disorder characterized by the presence of seizures and neuropsychiatric comorbidities. Despite the number of antiepileptic drugs, one-third of patients did not have their seizures under control, leading to pharmacoresistance epilepsy. Cannabis sativa has been used since ancient times in Medicine for the treatment of many diseases, including convulsive seizures. In this context, Cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive phytocannabinoid present in Cannabis, has been a promising compound for treating epilepsies due to its anticonvulsant properties in animal models and humans, especially in pharmacoresistant patients. In this review, we summarize evidence of the CBD anticonvulsant activities present in a great diversity of animal models. Special attention was given to behavioral CBD effects and its translation to human epilepsies. CBD anticonvulsant effects are associated with a great variety of mechanisms of action such as endocannabinoid and calcium signaling. CBD has shown effectiveness in the clinical scenario for epilepsies, but its effects on epilepsy-related comorbidities are scarce even in basic research. More detailed and complex behavioral evaluation about CBD effects on seizures and epilepsy-related comorbidities are required.

Keywords: Animal models; Anticonvulsant; Behavior; Cannabidiol; Clinical applications; Epilepsy; Mechanisms of action; Seizure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticonvulsants / pharmacology*
  • Cannabidiol / pharmacology*
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Epilepsy / drug therapy*
  • Seizures / chemically induced
  • Seizures / drug therapy*


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Cannabidiol