CBD & Psychosis

by in CBD News November 15, 2019

11/26/2018 / By Rhonda Johansson in

A purified form of cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive compound in cannabis, shows potential for reducing psychosis in patients displaying schizophrenia-like mental illnesses, according to a new study published in JAMA Psychiatry. These results provide first evidence on how cannabidiol can directly influence the brain to reduce psychotic symptoms.

The King’s College London team was curious to see how CBD changed brain function after it was recently licensed in the U.S. to treat rare childhood epilepsy. Their clinical trial demonstrated that cannabidiol does indeed have antipsychotic properties.

“Our results have started unraveling the brain mechanisms of a new drug that works in a completely different way to traditional anti-psychotics,” enthused lead author of the study, Dr. Sagnik Bhattacharyya, from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN).

Thirty-three young adults who were not diagnosed with psychosis but who were exhibiting distressing symptoms, along with 19 healthy controls, were included in the study. A single dose of CBD was given to 16 participants while the remaining 17 received a placebo.

Each participant performed a memory task while being studied in an MRI scanner. Results showed that activity in three areas in the brain believed to be involved in psychosis was significantly reduced in patients who received the CBD. These results suggest that use of cannabidiol is useful to help re-adjust brain activities to normal levels.

Interestingly, previous research from King’s College London showed that CBD works in opposition to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound in cannabis that makes people “high.” This altered state has been strongly linked to the development of psychosis. THC has been theorized to mimic some of the effects of psychosis, whereas CBD has broad neurological and behavioral effects.

Bhattacharyya and his colleagues at IoPPN are now working towards investigating the use of CBD in treating young adults who are at high risk of developing psychosis.

“There is an urgent need for a safe treatment for young people at risk of psychosis,” says Bhattacharyya. “One of the main advantages of cannabidiol is that it is safe and seems to be very well tolerated, making it in some ways an ideal treatment.”

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