Researchers study cannabis compound that can be used to treat epilepsy
Researchers at the University of Reading have discovered that a compound found in cannabis may be used to treat epilepsy. Moreover, they add, this natural compound does not cause side effects as do other drugs used to treat epilepsy.
Epilepsy is a chronic neurological disease characterized by seizures. Most often epilepsy begins in childhood or at old age. It seems that seizures occur due to paroxysmal and synchronous activity of brain neurons. It should be noted that not all seizures means epilepsy because there are also febrile convulsions or seizures caused by meningitis. In epilepsy, the seizures can be generalized or partial.
Epilepsy is a disease that cannot be cured but it can be controlled by drugs called anticonvulsants. Antiepileptic drugs block or prevent seizures by interfering the mechanism of their production. There are drugs that block sodium channels (carbamazepine, phenytoin), or calcium channels (ethosuximide). Also, there are drugs that stimulate the activity of the brain GABA system, which is an inhibitory system. Benzodiazepine act by stimulating this system. Therefore, antiepileptics have a sedative effect. It also should be noted that antiepileptics are effective in certain types of epilepsy, and can not used in all situations. For example, drugs that block sodium channels (carbamazepine and phenytoin) are effective in tonico-clonic seizures and grand mal convulsion, while their use in small epilepticus may lead to worsening of the condition.
Regarding side effects, antiepileptics often lead to many adverse effects. The best known is sedation, which is mainly due to the use of barbiturates and benzodiazepines. An important side effect is the loss of memory and learning ability. Other side effects that may occur are ataxia, diplopia, nystagmus. There are also gastrointestinal side effects (nausea, vomiting) and dermatological effects.
The study led by Dr Ben Whalley, and published in the British Journal of Pharmacology journal, reveals that cannabidivarin (CBDV), a natural compound found in cannabis may be used to prevent seizures. Dr Whalley mentioned that epilepsy is an incurable disease and that a third of patients do not respond to treatment. In addition, he added that drugs currently used give many side effects affecting quality of life. So the finding may lead to improved epilepsy treatment. Now researchers at the University of Reading study how cannabidivarin influence the occurrence of seizures in epilepsy.
Cannabidivarin (CBDV), unlike the other natural compounds found in cannabis, has no psychoactive effects. Therefore it does not trigger feelings of euphoria like other compounds in cannabis. The antiepileptic effect of cannabidivarin was demonstrated in vitro studies and in those conducted on laboratory animals.