CBD May Help Manage Schizophrenia and Psychosis
Schizophrenia is a severe, often lifelong mental disorder that significantly affects how a person thinks, feels and behaves in an adverse manner. It’s estimated that schizophrenia and related psychoses affect more than 200,000 individuals a year in the United States alone. Scientists believe the disorder is caused by an imbalance in chemical reactions in neurotransmitters in the brain.
Traditional pharmaceuticals prescribed for schizophrenia, while effective at mitigating the accompanying delusions and hallucinations, are often not helpful in treating the negative or cognitive symptoms. Those include apathy, lack of emotion, antisocial behavior, disorganized thoughts, and trouble concentrating.
In addition, many antipsychotic medications often have severe negative side effects, such as extreme fatigue, muscle spasms/tremors, and weight gain.
CBD, a powerful cannabinoid with many clinically proven health benefits and medicinal applications, has shown promising evidence as a treatment for schizophrenia and psychosis, among other mental disorders.
THC vs CBD
Cannabis contains two primary cannabinoids responsible for its medicinal and therapeutic applications: THC and CBD. These cannabinoids work with the body’s regulatory system known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is composed of many receptors spread throughout the body. The receptors can be activated either by the body’s naturally occurring cannabinoids or by commercial cannabinoids such as THC and CBD.
THC and CBD primarily interact with two receptors, CB1 and CB2. THC binds directly to the receptors while CBD simply encourages the body’s naturally occurring cannabinoids to do more of what they normally do. This is why THC produces psychological effects and CBD does not.
The Evidence: CBD & Schizophrenia
One study conducted by Western University in California concluded that CBD may be useful in treating schizophrenia and related forms of psychosis. The study, led by Justine Renard, a postdoctoral fellow in the university's Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, identified the neural pathway where the CBD produces antipsychotic effects found to reduce symptoms of schizophrenia-related psychosis.
“These findings have critical implications not only for understanding how specific phytochemical components of marijuana may differentially impact neuropsychiatric phenomena, but demonstrate a potential mechanism for the therapeutic effects of marijuana derivatives in the treatment of dopamine-related, psychiatric disorders,” the study said.
While THC produces significant psychological effects and some unwanted side effects, CBD has been found to have an opposing, antipsychotic effect. This is why it is potentially ideal for use in treating psychoses such as schizophrenia.
The link between marijuana and schizophrenia has been known for some time, as studies have shown that heavy marijuana use, particularly during adolescence, increases the risk of developing schizophrenia. In addition, they show that people with schizophrenia who use marijuana are more likely to have worsening symptoms and a further progression of the disorder. Recent evidence, including the Western University lab work, points to THC as the culprit rather than CBD.
“CBD is acting in a way that is the exact opposite to what THC is doing,” says co-author Steven Laviolette. “Within the same plant, you’ve got two different chemicals that are producing opposite effects in terms of psychiatric effects, molecular signaling and effects on the dopamine pathway.”
Researchers injected rats with CBD to study its behavioral, chemical and neuropathic effects and found that it helps reduce dopamine sensitization, a response that has been linked to schizophrenia-related psychoses. This helps explain exactly how CBD affects brain function, something previously unknown. It also points to a novel approach for treating psychoses, something researchers say is greatly needed.
Another study, published in the June 2017 issue of Neuropsychopharmacology, suggested that CBD is very effective in managing symptoms associated with schizophrenia. Researchers at the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute in Australia investigated CBD’s ability to help mitigate cognitive impairments as well as difficulties with concentration and memory, common symptoms that affect those with schizophrenia.
Ph.D. candidate and study author Ashleigh Osborne said, “We found that CBD was able to restore recognition and working memory, as well as social behavior to normal levels.” She added, “These findings are interesting because they suggest that CBD may be able to treat some of the symptoms of schizophrenia that are seemingly resistant to existing medications. In addition, CBD treatments did not alter body weight or food intake, which are common side effects of antipsychotic drug treatment.”
Dr. Katrina Green, a supervisor of the study, stated, “From this review, we found that CBD will not improve learning and memory in healthy brains, but may improve aspects of learning and memory in illnesses associated with cognitive impairment, including Alzheimer’s disease, as well as neurological and neuroinflammatory disorders. Evidence suggests that CBD is neuroprotective and can reduce cognitive impairment associated with the use of THC, the main psychoactive component of cannabis.”
→ For more information on how CBD can benefit those with depression, click here.
Additional Disorders CBD May Help With
Various studies have shown CBD also may be incredibly effective in helping alleviate the symptoms of other mental disorders, including anxiety, depression, and PTSD. This is due to CBD’s powerful anxiolytic and antidepressant qualities, plus its interaction with the serotonin system. Overall, CBD has shown promising evidence as a treatment for numerous mental disorders.
→ For more information on how CBD can benefit those with
anxiety, click here.
As you can see, the evidence is largely in favor of CBD being an effective treatment for schizophrenia, among other mental disorders. CBD’s ability to interact with various systems in the body, coupled with the fact that it helps alleviate additional symptoms that traditional pharmaceuticals do not, may make it a powerful tool in future treatment plans.
→ For more information on how to properly dose CBD, click here.