While cannabis remains a highly controversial drug, its constituents being extensively researched are gaining ground in the medical field. It is especially true of cannabidiol, or, as it is often abbreviated, CBD. It has recently been linked to a range of positive effects on the body, and the brain and nervous system as a whole are affected as well. A new study also suggests that it could be used to treat patients with psychosis.
CBD has another curious function – it is capable of reducing the effect of THC, the cannabis compound responsible for the notorious psychoactive effect marijuana produces. However, it is not the only thing it does: a new research suggests this property can also affect the human mind and aid in treatment of patients suffering from schizophrenia. It is another piece of evidence supporting the theory that cannabidiol has a wide range of effects on the nervous system: the evidence accumulated enabled the government to license it to be used as part of treatment of children with epilepsy.
A team of scientists from King’s College London has recently reported that as little as a single dose of CBD can trigger changes in brain activity and reduce the symptoms associated with psychosis.
In most cases, patients with psychosis resort to treatments which have been in use since the 1950s. Most of them act as dopamine receptor inhibitors. Dopamine does not work as intended in those with psychosis, and that is why interfering with its activity may have a beneficial effect on such patients. However, not all patients respond to the treatment, because dopamine is not the only neurotransmitter that can fail to work properly and thus contribute to development of psychosis.
The new findings reported by KCL show that CBD can provide an alternative that has nothing to do with dopamine. Instead, it affects the endocannabinoid system, altering brain activity and thus reducing psychosis symptoms – without getting high, as CBD does not cause hallucinations or similar symptoms.
How the study was conducted
In total, 33 participants were enrolled in the study. None of them had the diagnosis of psychosis but they displayed symptoms associated with it. Besides, a group of 19 healthy volunteers was used as controls. Then, 16 of them (from either group) were given a dose of CBD, and the rest got a placebo pill. At the next stage of the experiment, the participants were asked to perform memory tasks engaging the regions of the brain where activity is usually altered in psychotic patients. The tests were taken in MRI scanners to see what was happening in their heads.
Having analyzed the data, the scientists found that in patients exhibiting symptoms of psychosis brain activity was abnormal in the regions generally affected by the disorder, but in those who received a CBD dose, it was not as severe as in those psychotic patients who were given a placebo pill.
The researchers hope that they will be able to demonstrate in an upcoming large scale trial that cannabidiol can be used for treatment of psychosis in young patients. They have already been supported by a substantial grant for this purpose.
Since there are many people displaying early symptoms of psychosis on both sides of the pond, there is an urgent need for treatments that would help halt the process and reset brain activity to make it normal. Currently available drugs are rarely prescribed at early stages due to their having a lot of adverse effects. CBD is devoid of mind-altering effects, and it can become an opportunity for many to stop the disorder in its tracks.