An electrophysiological analysis of the anticonvulsant action of cannabidiol on limbic seizures in conscious rats

Epilepsia. 1979 Aug;20(4):351-63. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1157.1979.tb04815.x.


The effects of cannabidiol (CBD) on electrically evoked kindled seizures were studied in conscious, unrestrained rats with chronically implanted cortical and limbic electrodes, and the results were compared with those of delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta 9-THC), phenytoin (PHT), and ethosuximide (ESM). All drugs were anticonvulsant, but there were marked differences in their effects on afterdischarge (AD) threshold, duration, and amplitude. CBD, like PHT and delta 9-THC, elevated the AD threshold; in contrast, ESM decreased the threshold but suppressed AD spread. CBD, however, also resembled ESM inasmuch as both drugs decreased AD duration and amplitude. Electrophysiologically, the antiseizure effects of CBD were a combination of those of PHT and ESM. The combination of effects may account for the observation that CBD was the most efficacious of the drugs tested against limbic ADs and convulsions. Other properties of CBD were also noted: For example, compared with delta 9-THC, it is a much more selective anticonvulsant vis-à-vis motor toxicity. CBD also lacks the CNS excitatory effects produced by delta 9-THC, PHT, and ESM. These characteristics, combined with its apparently unique set of electrophysiological properties, support the suggestion that CBD has therapeutic potential as an antiepileptic.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticonvulsants / pharmacology*
  • Anticonvulsants / toxicity
  • Cannabidiol / pharmacology*
  • Cannabidiol / toxicity
  • Cannabinoids / pharmacology*
  • Limbic System / drug effects
  • Rats
  • Seizures*


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Cannabinoids
  • Cannabidiol