The use of cannabis, otherwise known as marijuana, and specific parts of the plant have become popular in using for numerous conditions. It has been shown to assist in treating things from basic pain, to many neurological conditions. These include things such as attention deficit disorder, anxiety, depression, epilepsy, and many other conditions. Among these and other neurological conditions, epilepsy is the most common. The treatment of epilepsy for anyone regardless of the level of severity is important since ones’ rate of mortality for anyone with the condition has been shown to increase (2). Many individuals treated through medication respond well, but many do not and other forms of treatment are needed. The use of marijuana has shown to help with reducing seizures in epilepsy, but it is not known exactly how this occurs. Studies have shown there being numerous targets for marijuana effectively reducing seizures. Here we will look at the relationship between neuroinflammation and seizures, and how marijuana can have an effect on this.
What is Neuroinflammation ?
Neuroinflammation is inflammation of the brain which can be caused by numerous neurological conditions such as alzheimers disease, parkinsons disease, epilepsy, and other conditions. It may also be a side effect of any traumatic brain injury, as well as behavioral, environmental, or physiological stresses (10). In some cases, neuroinflammation can occur during development and in this case, certain types of epilepsy that can be caused by inflammation are thought to possibly be genetic. This is thought to occur through specific pathways for inflammation, so knowing the exact cause may help in eliminating the development of epilepsy (7). Many times, neuroinflammation that is seen may be due to a deficient immune system. So what is the relationship between neuroinflammation and immunity ?
Neuroinflammation and immunity
There are a number of factors that go into causing neuroinflammation, and depending on the cause there may be some treatments available. Any decrease in inflammation seen should help with decreasing the frequency and intensity of seizures. The exact cause of many seizures is unknown, but there are also some specific types of seizures associated with inflammation that also have a part to do with the immune system. Many conditions result in a decrease in immunity which can increase the inflammation, and both of these are factors which can cause a seizure to occur (8).
If your immune system does not respond correctly to a condition, this could cause a disruption of brain signaling and communication between the nervous system, and immune system which is could then possibly cause the formation of many types of seizures (5, 9). In some cases, the cause of neuroinflammation can be either internal or external stress, and this could be the reason behind seizures being seen in individuals with other conditions such as autism (6). There are different forms of treatment for neuroinflammation but can treating neuroinflammation assist in decreasing seizures ?
Neuroinflammation and epilepsy
When any seizure occurs, it has shown to induce an inflammatory response. This is seen through factors such as an increase in body temperature as well as an increase in white blood cell count.(4). The effect of a seizure causing inflammation makes sense, but it has also been shown that inflammation can cause a seizure to occur as well (9). The formation of seizures and epilepsy has been shown in some cases to be a secondary effect due to any type of traumatic event that leads to brain injury, which can in turn lead to more chronic neurodegenerative conditions (1), This could mean that treating any inflammation seen due to an accident or traumatic brain injury may prevent seizures and epilepsy if treated early enough. The occurrance of inflammation of the brain have even thought to cause epileptogenesis which is the beginning of the development of epilepsy (8). So what are some effects that marijuana can have concerning the treatment of inflammation ?
Can CBD help treat neuroinflammation ?
There are numerous uses for CBD and marijuana, including seizures. As previously mentioned, inflammation can cause seizures, but it is also the result of seizures as well (8). This poses the question can treating neuroinflammation assist in the prevention of seizures ? This may be true in some cases depending on the cause behind the seizures. The substance of CBD has been shown to have anti inflammitory effects (11), which may then possibly decrease the frequency of seizures that occur (3). Although it is not exactly known how this works, there are certain factors being researched concerning this. One factor concerning inflammation has to do with the receptors, and deactivating specific ones that are pro inflammitory (8), while increasing the activation of others which are anti inflammatory. In this case, the activation of specific CBD receptors has been shown to have anti inflammatory effects (12,13), which may in turn decrease seizures that are seen, as well as assist in other neurogenerative diseases (14). This includes things such as multiple sclerosis, parkinsons disease, alzheimers disease, Huntington disease, as well as others. These are only some many neurological conditions that the CBD found in marijuana may assist in. The studies that have been conducted look promising, and continued research will help in knowing exactly how to treat these conditions.
There are numerous biological factors that are thought to be possible triggers of a seizure occurring. These can include anything from an imbalance in specific neurotransmitters, the channels that these neurotransmitters go through, receptors, as well as other factors. Neuroinflammation is one thing that is thought to be an indirect cause of seizure occurring, and can occur due to numerous things. This includes traumatic brain injuries, as well as certain conditions which may affect the immune system. The decrease in immunity is thought to increase the probability of inflammation occurring which could then lead to seizures. The use of CBD within the marijuana plant has been shown to help decrease the inflammation seen within the brain, so this may be one of many ways that marijuana may assist in decreasing the intensity or frequency of seizures that occur.