More evidence suggests cannabis extracts can be effective in epilepsy treatment

6th October 2021

Researchers have found that cannabis extracts may play a huge part in treating severe epilepsy symptoms in children.

According to a new study published by the University of Sydney, three phytocannabinoids (CBGA, CBDVA, CBGVA) with novel anticonvulsant properties detected in cannabis were successfully reducing the symptoms of Dravet syndrome, an intractable form of childhood epilepsy in a rodent model.

The study authors said the results suggested that Cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), Cannabidivarin (CBDVA) and Cannabigerovarinic acid (CBGVA) may contribute to the effects of cannabis-based products in childhood epilepsy.

They concluded that although the above-mentioned phytocannabinoids have anticonvulsant potential and could be lead compounds for drug development programmes, “several liabilities would need to be overcome before CBD is superseded by another in this class.”

Jonathon Arnold from the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics and the Sydney Pharmacy School told News Medical: “From the early nineteenth-century cannabis extracts were used in Western medicine to treat seizures, but cannabis prohibition got in the way of advancing the science.

“Now we are able to explore how the compounds in this plant can be adapted for modern therapeutic treatments.

“Our research program is systematically testing whether the various constituents of cannabis reduce seizures in a mouse model of Dravet syndrome. We started by testing the compounds individually and found several cannabis constituents with anticonvulsant effects.”

Study Lead Author Dr Lyndsey Anderson added that CBGA was more potent than CBD in reducing seizures – however, CBGA has its own limits, as well.

Although more studies are needed on the acidic cannabinoids and the potential benefits they can provide for those with some of the most severe epilepsy symptoms, there is one option that must be looked at, according to Dr Anderson.

She said: “We have assessed the cannabinoids one by one, and now we are exploring what happens when you put them all back together.

“There remains a real possibility that all these individual anticonvulsant cannabinoids might work better when combined.”

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