Cannabis is a complex plant with over 100 different kinds of cannabinoids. Its main psychoactive compound is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which activates cannabinoid receptors to produce a “high”. Cannabidiol (CBD) is another cannabinoid that has attracted a lot of attention- and for good reason. Unlike THC, CBD does not bind to cannabinoid receptors. It exhibits different, often counteractive effects believed to be medicinal. Currently, there are more than 100 clinical trials registered on the ClinicalTrials.gov website on the potential therapeutic effects of CBD.
Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. People with schizophrenia often seem like they have lost touch with reality. Although schizophrenia is not as common as other mental disorders, the symptoms can be disabling. While the exact causes are unknown, research suggests that a combination of physical, genetic, and psychological as well as environmental factors are likely responsible for developing this condition. Some people may be genetically prone to schizophrenia while others may be triggered by a very stressful or emotional life event.
The relationship between cannabis use and psychosis is well studied in epidemiological circles. The potential benefits of CBD on cognition in patients with schizophrenia is also well researched and have become more accessible in the last few decades due to their critical importance on two main points:
The first researched case ever to be published on the use of CBD as an antipsychotic medication was in 1995. The study involved a 19-year-old female schizophrenic who was administered 1500 mg of CBD daily for 4 weeks. The results showed a marked improvement in acute psychotic symptoms.
Another study published 10 years later, looked at the effects of CBD on 3 different patients with treatment-resistant schizophrenia. The results of that study showed a marked improvement in one out of three patients- which is thought to be remarkable.
Moreover, a follow up to that study looked at the antipsychotic effects of CBD at a dose of 400 mg on 6 separate individual patients. All 6 showed improvement of psychotic symptoms over the course of 4 weeks.
While the exact mechanism of action is still not entirely known for CBD’s anti-psychotic properties- a few things remain clear:
Unlike other anti-psychotic medicines, CBD does not affect the dopamine in the brain; it also does not bind to cannabinoid receptors like THC. What it does do is increase the CSF levels of anandamide, one of the main molecules in the endocannabinoid system.
Anandamide levels are negatively correlated with severely schizophrenic people. Those same levels seem to surge in psychotic patients using CBD which suggests CBD is responsible for that spike. Of course, more studies are needed to confirm this.
Did you know that your body has an endocannabinoid system composed of neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors? The endocannabinoid or ECS system helps the body maintain some of its most important homeostatic functions. The ECS system is equally important in many behavioral and physiological processes such as mood, memory, and appetite. There is also a connection between the ECS and schizophrenia.
Current medical treatment for schizophrenia has been very hit or miss, which has led many researchers to investigate new pharmacological targets like the endocannabinoid system. Over the past few decades, studies have shown the presence of endocannabinoid system abnormalities in schizophrenia. While current studies on the potential therapeutic effects of CBD are still ongoing, there have been many positive links between the endocannabinoid system and many psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia
The most important takeaway is that CBD has been shown to be incredibly useful for a wide range of psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia as well as dealing with the negative effects that schizophrenia has on the human brain. It might take some time before the medical community catches up with all the potential CBD has in dealing with conditions like schizophrenia, but currently, a lot of doctors are recommending it as a supplement to regular treatments.
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