Medical Research

How Scientists Think CBD Helps Treat Seizures

Written by Nick Congleton

Cannabidiol (CBD) has many potential health benefits. Some are more understood than others. One of the first medical uses for CBD was actually the treatment of epilepsy and other seizure disorders. Sure, most people who have used CBD can attest to its calming effects, but can CBD really treat seizures? If it can, how would something like that even work? While there is still a lot that science doesn’t know about cannabis in the body, scientists may be on the trail of conclusive answers to CBD’s effect on seizures.


Can CBD Treat Seizures?

There are few things that can be said with 100% certainty. However, there’s a fair amount of evidence that CBD does, in fact, help treat seizures. In fact, the first cannabis-derived medication ever approved by the FDA, Epidiolex, is essentially purified CBD, and it was approved for treating seizures. [1]

It’s clear, then, that CBD does treat seizures in many patients. Even though Epidiolex was approved some time ago, the underlying mechanism of how CBD can suppress seizures has remained largely unknown.


How Does it Work?

While the exact mechanism of action remains unknown, scientists have possible answers for how CBD can treat seizures. These answers are still purely theoretical, and more research is definitely needed. However, they mark a promising new path for research to follow.

Scientists theorize that CBD has a twofold effect on treating seizures. First, CBD is believed to modulate calcium ion in nerve cells. If this is true, CBD will help keep a normal flow of calcium ions, rather than allowing an excess of ions to excite the cell. [1]

Next, CBD is thought to modulate concentrations of the neurotransmitter adenosine. Adenosine is believed to be a natural anti-convulsant produced by the body. Therefore, a lack of adenosine could result in seizures. CBD is thought to block the body from reabsorbing adenosine, therefore allowing for a healthy amount of the neurotransmitter to remain available for nerve cells to block signaling. [1]

There’s another working theory of how CBD helps decrease seizure activity. The Transient Receptor Potential Vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) is a key mediator of the central nervous system (CNS) capable of modulating various pathways including the synaptic transmission. [2] An excessive accumulation of calcium through TRPV1 is thought to play a role in seizures. Studies have shown that CBD has the ability to desensitize TRPV1 receptors, making them less prone to excitability, and therefore, less seizure activity. [1]

While the exact mechanism or mechanisms of action are unknown, it remains clear that CBD does help to treat seizures and it plays a vital role in alleviating seizure symptoms naturally.




[1] Gray, R.A.,  Whalley, B.J. The proposed mechanisms of action of CBD in epilepsy. Epileptic Disorders. 2020; 22:S10-S15. 2.12. 6. [Journal impact factor = 2.333] [Times cited = 82]


[2] Ho KW, Ward NJ, Calkins DJ. TRPV1: a stress response protein in the central nervous system. Am J Neurodegener Dis. 2012;1(1):1-14. Epub 2012. PMID: 22737633; PMCID: PMC3560445. [Journal impact factor = 0.713] [Times cited = 138]



About the author

Nick Congleton