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Merritt-Putnam Symposium 2014: Stress, Cannabinoids and Epilepsy: The Science Behind the Buzz

Recorded December 2014


The impact of stress on seizure control has long been recognized but the neurobiology of stress impact on neurophysiology is not widely known. Similarly, cannabinoids have been considered as potentially effective adjunctive treatment for epilepsy as an alternative to traditional medications but here, too, the neurobiology requires further elucidation. There is evidence of shared mechanisms between stress impact on neurologic function and the neurobiology of cannabinoids. These topics will be explored, providing information necessary for improved management of patients with pharmacoresistant epilepsy. Presentations on basic science related to stress and to cannabinoids, and clinical data regarding both will be presented.
Research on how cannabinoid receptors alter the brain’s immune system will
be presented, as well as progress that has been made in identifying
cannabinoid agents devoid of drug of abuse properties that may provide
treatment for diverse neurological disorders.

Learning Objectives

  • Identify a patient for whom stress is contributing to difficulties in management of seizures and develop treatment strategies to address the role of stress
  • Query patients regarding use of cannabinoids and address the impact of such use in developing treatment plans
  • Identify a patient who is using cannabinoids for treatment of epilepsy and discuss the impact of the use of cannabinoids
  • Assist clinicians in developing treatment plans that account for the impact of cannabinoids and their interaction with traditional medications
  • Counsel patient regarding the need for stress management in treatment of epilepsy
  • Counsel patients regarding the impact of stress on seizure control and
  • develop plans for managing stress
  • Evaluate the possible adverse effects of cannabinoids on cognitive function in patients using cannabinoids for seizure treatment.

Target Audience
Basic, Intermediate and Advanced

Chair: Amy Brooks-Kayal, M.D.
Amy Brooks-Kayal, M.D.

The Neurobiology of Stress: How Stress and Epilepsy Intersect at the Synapse
Tallie Z. Baram, M.D., Ph.D.

Stress and Epilepsy: What Are the Clinical Data?
Sheryl Haut, M.D.

Stress and Cannabinoids: What Is the Link?
Jaideep Bains, Ph.D.

Cannabinoids and Epilepsy: What Are the Clinical Data?
Allen Hauser, M.D.

Cannabinoids in Treatment of Neurological and Psychiatric Disorders: Is There a Potential Role in Epilepsy?
Nephi Stella, Ph.D.

Panel Discussion and Conclusions
Amy Brooks-Kayal, M.D.

ABPN Core Competencies

The American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology has reviewed the Merritt-Putnam Symposium and has approved this program as part of a comprehensive lifelong learning program, which is mandated by the ABMS as a necessary component of maintenance of certification.
Core Competencies: Professionalism, Medical Knowledge, Practice-based Learning and Systems-based Practice

This program is supported in part by CURE.