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CBD and Schizophrenia: A Viable Treatment?


Medical research consistently uncovers new clinical methods of treating underlying medical conditions. Some of these breakthroughs have even helped patients with conditions like schizophrenia, effectively suppressing the negative symptoms of the condition and helping people to better function in society.

Now, studies are testing whether CBD (cannabidiol) can be used as a treatment for patients with schizophrenia. CBD has become affiliated with the health and wellness industry for its ability to relax the mind, and is available in a number of over-the-counter products. Studies have indicated that CBD possesses antipsychotic properties that scientists theorize can be used for more than mental health treatment. Researchers are actively testing theories as to whether CBD could help treat the underlying conditions of schizophrenia.

Research suggests that CBD is already a potential coping mechanism for pain, insomnia, and even PTSD. The US National Library of Medicine is leading a CBD and schizophrenia study to help more people with psychological conditions. Over a dozen tests are either completed, underway, or pending approval.

Can CBD help schizophrenia

In 2018, the FDA began a clinical trial to test if Epidiolex could be a potential treatment for two severe forms of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. Epidiolex is an oral component of CBD that contains no traces of THC, the component of cannabis that causes users to feel “high.” Epilepsy is one of the symptoms associated with schizophrenia.

The FDA trial was deemed a success based on the clinical results. Today, Epidiolex is an FDA-approved treatment for LGS and Dravet syndrome.

The results of the Epidiolex trials suggest that there is potential for a broader use case for CBD and schizophrenia. Currently, Epidiolex remains the only element of CBD to receive FDA approval for epileptic treatments, though detailed research into the adjunctive therapeutic benefits of CBD and schizophrenia continue.

Can CBD cause schizophrenia

Over 7.5 million people in the United States are affected by some form of schizophrenia throughout their lives. It’s typically caused by a defunct or an abnormality between brain cells that impairs mental judgment, hinders yearnings for socialization, and disassociates patients from reality.

These disruptions within the brain are triggered by underlying genetic conditions and, in some cases, exposure to cannabis can be one of those conditions. Data indicates that psychotic moments resulting from exposure to or usage of cannabis are, in fact, triggered by high concentrations of THC.

On the other hand, CBD is a non-intoxicating constituent of cannabis and is believed to mitigate the psychological effects of THC. Studies that use CBD as a treatment for schizophrenia, absent of any traces of THC, have, to date, shown mixed results in clinical trials. However, one study, published in the National Library of Medicine, showed improved social interaction and working memory in patients treated with CBD.

Treating schizophrenia with CBD

CBD is believed to have antipsychotic effects on people who consume cannabis with high concentrations of cannabidiol. It also has the distinction of blocking psychotic effects that result from high quantities of THC.

It’s too soon to definitively say that CBD, on its own, is a viable treatment for schizophrenia and its underlying conditions. According to Dr. Emily Deans, a board certified adult psychiatrist, fewer than 200 people have participated in clinical trials involving CBD and schizophrenia. Yet, the results of those studies provided insightful medical learnings that have the potential to make significant breakthroughs in future trials.

CBD schizophrenia dosage

The most promising study involved 33 participants, all of whom experienced psychotic symptoms and other known indications of schizophrenia. Half of these participants were given an oral capsule containing 600 mg of CBD, and the other half received an identical dosage in the form of a placebo.

Once the trial was underway, MRIs were conducted to scan the brainwave activity in each of the participants. What was most intriguing to the scientists was that the abnormal brain wave activity, expected in schizophrenic patients, was significantly reduced in the brains of people who took the CBD dosage compared to those that took a placebo.

Such a small sample size is not enough data to conclusively determine if CBD dosages can effectively treat schizophrenia. But the results do suggest that more research into the effects of CBD on schizophrenia are warranted.

CBD schizophrenia study

In any event, early data support the idea of ongoing CBD-schizophrenia studies. The next logical step forward is to expand the size of the clinical trials in order to gather larger quantities of data to inform future research into connections between CBD and schizophrenia as a viable means of treating patients.

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