The medical efficacy of marijuana is derived from cannabinoids. Cannabidivarin is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid which has been found to be very effective in the treatment of epilepsy. GW Pharmaceuticals is a British pharmaceutical company that is in the process of developing a cannabis-based drug, Epidolex, to treat seizures. The Epilepsy Foundation of America has called for nationwide access to medical marijuana.
The Endocannabinoid Research Group in Italy has established the fact that cannabidivarin is one of those cannabinoids that can regulate epileptic seizures and help in the treatment of this health problem.
What is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological disorders which affects people of all ages. The most prominent characteristic of this disorder is unpredictable seizures. The seizures can be sudden and may happen without reason. The stigma attached to epilepsy is usually rooted in the unexpected nature of the disorder.
Seizures occur when abnormal bursts of electricity in the brain disrupt the usual functioning of the brain for a limited period of time. The reasons that trigger the bursts are unclear and may vary in each individual.
The normal working of the brain depends on electrical signals that are sent through the nerves to various parts of the body. These electrical signals known as nerve impulses are created by an action potential. To understand action potential you must know that the inside and outside of a cell have an electrical difference which is created by the movement of the ions sodium and potassium. The cell membranes that surround each cell ensure the difference is maintained.
Neurotransmitters are chemicals which help regulate the brain function by stimulating the neurons. When the neurons are stimulated, the polarity within each neuron moves to a point which causes the neuron to fire. When the stimulation reaches a level where the polarity of the neuron comes to a threshold point, it generates an action potential. The entire process is highly regulated under normal conditions.
During a seizure, the regulated process is disrupted and a burst of action potentials occur in a specific part of the brain. Surrounding neurons are activated by the burst of action potential spreading it across the brain. This is how an epileptic seizure is created. The factors that may affect the seizures are largely unidentified.
Researchers Investigate the Effectiveness of CBDV in rat brain tissue
According to the Endocannabinoid Research Group transient receptor potential cation channel subfamily V member 1 (TRPV1) is one of the factors that may cause epilepsy. The receptors are primarily responsible for providing sensation and pain in the human body.
To further their studies about this receptor, the Italian researchers tested the results of cannabidiol and cannbidivarin on a cell structure model of epileptic seizures. The two non-psychotropic cannabinoids showed positive results when it came to relieving seizures. The researchers started to research if the relief came because of the activation and desensitization of the TRPV1 receptor.
To find this out, the researchers used a patch-clamp analysis. Through this analysis they checked if CBD and CBDV were able to activate and desensitize TRPV1, TRPV2 and TRPA1 receptors.
The researches went on to test by using hippocampal brain slices which were taken from rats to simulate epileptic seizures. They found that CBDV was capable of reducing the amplitude as well as the duration of an epileptic seizure.
When these results were compared to the effects of capsaicin then they found that the effects of capsaicin were reversed by IRTX which is a TRPV1 antagonist. AT the same time, the effects of CBDV were not reversed. This has brought the scientists to the conclusion that CBDV effects on TRP channels have to be researched further in different models of epilepsy like the vitro and vivo models.