Cannabinoids in epilepsy: Clinical efficacy and pharmacological considerations

Neurologia (Engl Ed). 2020 Apr 18:S0213-4853(20)30040-2. doi: 10.1016/j.nrl.2020.02.005. Online ahead of print.
[Article in English, Spanish]


Introduction: Advances in the development of drugs with novel mechanisms of action have not been sufficient to significantly reduce the percentage of patients presenting drug-resistant epilepsy. This lack of satisfactory clinical results has led to the search for more effective treatment alternatives with new mechanisms of action.

Development: The aim of this study is to examine epidemiological aspects of the use of cannabis-based products for the treatment of epilepsy, with particular emphasis on the main mechanisms of action, indications for use, clinical efficacy, and safety. We conducted a narrative review of articles gathered from the PubMed, EMBASE, and Google Scholar databases and from the reference sections of relevant publications.

Conclusions: In recent years there has been growing interest in the use of cannabis-based products for the treatment of a wide range of diseases, including epilepsy. The cannabis plant is currently known to contain more than 100 terpenophenolic compounds, known as cannabinoids. The 2 most abundant are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol. Studies of preclinical models of epilepsy have shown that these cannabinoids have anticonvulsant properties, and 100% purified cannabidiol and cannabidiol-enriched cannabis extracts are now being used to treat epilepsy in humans. Several open-label studies and randomised controlled clinical trials have demonstrated the efficacy and safety of these products.

Keywords: Cannabidiol; Cannabinoides; Cannabinoids; Cannabis; Epilepsia; Epilepsy; Marihuana; Marijuana; Tetrahidrocannabinol; Tetrahydrocannabinol.

Publication types

  • Review