“VCU study is first to test anticonvulsant potential of marijuana and brain recurrent seizures.
Ingredients in marijuana and the cannabinoid receptor protein produced naturally in the body to regulate the central nervous system and other bodily functions play a critical role in controlling spontaneous seizures in epilepsy, according to a new study by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University.
The study, the first to look at marijuana and the brain’s cannabinoid system in live animals with spontaneous, recurrent seizures, suggests new avenues that researchers can explore in their search for more-effective drugs to treat epileptic patients who don’t respond to today’s anticonvulsant medications or surgery.
The results appear in the Oct. 1 issue of the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.
“Although marijuana is illegal in the United States, individuals both here and abroad report that marijuana has been therapeutic for them in the treatment of a variety of ailments, including epilepsy,” says Dr. Robert J. DeLorenzo, professor of neurology in the VCU School of Medicine.
“If we can understand how marijuana works to end seizures, we may be able to develop novel drugs that might do a better job of treating epileptic seizures.”
Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological conditions, characterized by spontaneously recurrent seizures. Approximately 1 percent of Americans have epilepsy, and 30 percent of those patients are resistant to conventional anticonvulsant drug treatments.
Cannabinoids have been used as a natural remedy for seizures for thousands of years, and studies since at least 1974 have found that the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana displays anticonvulsant properties.”