While the world is buzzing about CBD oil and seizure control, little fanfare accompanied University of California-Irvine researchers report explaining the molecular mechanisms underlying cilantro’s anti-seizure activity. Like many folk medicines with long histories, no one could explain the actual molecular mechanism which produced its effects. Rian Manville and Geoffrey Abbott reported in the FASEB Journal this week that they isolated dodecanal as the potassium channel modulator behind the effects.
Seizures occur from excess neuron activity, both chemically and electrically that spreads uncontrollably in one’s brain. Neurons, the cells of our brain which perform the processing, have channels in their surface membranes that open and close allowing ions of potassium, sodium, and calcium to move in or out of the cell. Neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and others depend on these channels to receive and pass on their intended message. When these channels over-react and share their over-reaction, seizures can occur.
How might cilantro reduce seizure activity? Dodecenal, one of the chemicals isolated from cilantro, binds potassium channels on brain cells, delaying seizures in the lab animals.
Now, of course, they hope to modify dodecanal and produce a “drug” which is a legitimate goal. In the meantime, I will be looking at trying this for patients we see for seizures. Whatever we can do to make our patients live healthier more abundant lives.
Rían W. Manville, Geoffrey W. Abbott. Cilantro leaf harbors a potent potassium channel–activating anticonvulsant. The FASEB Journal, 2019; fj.201900485R DOI: 10.1096/fj.201900485R