The Interplay between the Endocannabinoid System, Epilepsy and Cannabinoids
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that affects approximately 50 million people worldwide. There is currently no definitive epilepsy cure. However, in recent years, medicinal cannabis has been successfully trialed as an effective treatment for managing epileptic symptoms, but whose mechanisms of action are largely unknown. Lately, there has been a focus on neuroinflammation as an important factor in the pathology of many epileptic disorders. In this literature review, we consider the links that have been identified between epilepsy, neuroinflammation, the endocannabinoid system (ECS), and how cannabinoids may be potent alternatives to more conventional pharmacological therapies. We review the research that demonstrates how the ECS can contribute to neuroinflammation, and could therefore be modulated by cannabinoids to potentially reduce the incidence and severity of seizures. In particular, the cannabinoid cannabidiol has been reported to have anti-convulsant and anti-inflammatory properties, and it shows promise for epilepsy treatment. There are a multitude of signaling pathways that involve endocannabinoids, eicosanoids, and associated receptors by which cannabinoids could potentially exert their therapeutic effects. Further research is needed to better characterize these pathways, and consequently improve the application and regulation of medicinal cannabis.