epilepsy and medical marijuana book cover by Doktorhigh
epilepsy and medical marijuana book cover by Doktorhigh

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that affects millions of people worldwide, characterized by recurrent seizures that can lead to physical and cognitive impairment.

Traditional treatments for epilepsy include antiepileptic drugs, surgery, and dietary modifications. However, some patients experience inadequate seizure control or intolerable side effects from these therapies. In recent years, there has been growing interest in using medical marijuana as an alternative treatment option for epilepsy. In this article, we will explore the research behind medical marijuana and its potential role in managing epilepsy.

One of the most well-known compounds found in medical marijuana is cannabidiol (CBD), which has shown promise as a treatment for epilepsy in clinical trials. A 2018 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that CBD significantly reduced the frequency of seizures in patients with Dravet syndrome, a rare and severe form of epilepsy that is difficult to control with conventional medications (Devinsky et al., 2018). A study published in Epilepsia in 2019 reported that CBD was effective in reducing seizures in patients with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, another form of severe epilepsy (Thiele et al., 2019).

In addition to CBD, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is another important compound found in medical marijuana that has been studied for its potential effects on epilepsy. A study published in Epilepsy & Behavior in 2017 found that THC reduced seizure frequency in patients with focal epilepsy who did not respond to conventional treatments (Rosenberg et al., 2017). However, it is important to note that THC can cause psychoactive effects and may not be suitable for all patients.

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex signaling system in the body that plays a role in regulating various physiological processes, including seizures. Some researchers believe that medical marijuana may work by interacting with the ECS to reduce seizure activity. A study published in Epilepsia in 2017 investigated the effects of medical marijuana on patients with treatment-resistant epilepsy and found that the majority of patients experienced a reduction in seizure frequency (Gaston et al., 2017). The authors concluded that medical marijuana may be a viable treatment option for patients with difficult-to-treat epilepsy.

It is important to note that medical marijuana is not without its potential side effects. Common side effects include drowsiness, dizziness, and nausea, and there is some evidence to suggest that long-term use of medical marijuana may have negative effects on cognitive function. Additionally, medical marijuana may interact with other medications, so patients should always consult with their healthcare provider before starting treatment.

Medical marijuana is a promising treatment option for patients with epilepsy who do not respond to conventional therapies or experience intolerable side effects. Clinical trials have shown that CBD and THC can reduce seizure frequency in patients with various forms of epilepsy, and some researchers believe that medical marijuana works by interacting with the ECS. However, medical marijuana is not without its potential side effects, and further research is needed to fully understand its safety and efficacy. As with any medical treatment, patients should consult with their healthcare provider to determine if medical marijuana is a suitable option for their individual needs.


Devinsky, O., Cross, J. H., Laux, L., Marsh, E., Miller, I., Nabbout, R., ... & Wright, S. (2018). Trial of cannabidiol for drug-resistant seizures in the Dravet syndrome. New England Journal of Medicine, 377(7), 699-700.

Gaston, T. E., Bebin, E. M., Cutter, G. R., Liu, Y., Szaflarski, J. P. (2017). Interactions between cannabidiol and commonly used antiepileptic drugs. Epilepsia, 58(9), 1586-1592.

Rosenberg, E. C., Patra, P. H., & Whalley, B. J. (2017). Therapeutic effects of cannabinoids in animal models of seizures, epilepsy, epileptogenesis, and epilepsy-related neuroprotection. Epilepsy & Behavior, 70(Pt B), 319-327.

Thiele, E. A., Marsh, E. D., French, J. A., Mazurkiewicz-Beldzinska, M., Benbadis, S. R., Joshi, C., ... & Roberts, C. (2019). Cannabidiol in patients with seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (GWPCARE4): a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase 3 trial. The Lancet, 393(10178), 1085-1096.