Cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive component of marijuana, is gaining popularity as a potential therapy for a variety of diseases and illnesses, from epilepsy to cancer.
According to recent brain imaging research, a single dosage of CBD can lessen psychotic symptoms by “resetting” activity in three brain regions.
If the study is replicated, it will provide the first evidence-based explanation for how CBD works in the brain to treat psychosis, with findings that might lead to novel therapies.
Psychosis in a Nutshell
Psychosis is a symptom of various diseases defined by detachment from reality, rather than a singular ailment or sickness.
A psychotic episode is marked by seeing, hearing, or believing things that aren’t real, such as hallucinations. Psychosis is thought to be triggered by mental illness, trauma, substance abuse, and extreme stress, though the exact causes are unknown.
An episode might be triggered by a lack of sleep.
While schizophrenia is the most common form of psychosis, it affects a significantly wider percentage of the population.
A Small Study on Individuals with/without dosage of CBD:
There was brief research with 33 people who were suffering from psychotic symptoms.
As a control group, a smaller sample of healthy volunteers was included. Half of the psychosis group got a 600 mg oral dosage of CBD (a dose that the research found to be “previously efficacious in established psychosis”), while the other half received an identical placebo capsule.
The control group was not given any medication. Then, while their brains were scanned with an fMRI scanner, all of the individuals did a memory exercise designed to stimulate three brain regions that have been associated with the beginning of psychosis (particularly, the striatum, medial temporal cortex, and midbrain).
The scans revealed aberrant activity in the brains of the people who were experiencing symptoms as compared to the healthy control group — as predicted.
However, individuals who received CBD exhibited fewer severe anomalies in their brains than those who received a placebo, indicating that the chemical was “resetting” aberrant activity in critical brain regions.
“The findings have begun to untangle the brain processes of a novel medication that acts in a fundamentally different way than standard antipsychotics,” claimed lead author Dr. Sagnik Bhattacharyya of King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Neuroscience.
Limitations of the Study
There were several limitations to the study.
Aside from the fact that it was a small study with a methodology that couldn’t account for every factor that could influence the outcome, the researchers also stated that they can’t be certain the findings weren’t influenced by “the rapid changes in cerebral perfusion that are known to occur with a single dose of psychoactive drugs.”
In other words, they may have seen a one-time impact that will go away. “It is also uncertain if the benefits of CBD will remain after longer-term dosage,” the research says.
The next stage, which is currently beginning, is to conduct a large-scale human study to confirm the findings and evaluate whether CBD is a feasible therapeutic option.
If it works, the medicine will set itself apart from other medications on the market, including those that have been available since the 1950s, and generate mixed outcomes.
Muscle tremors and overwhelming drowsiness are typical adverse effects of some of the most often prescribed medications.
“A safe therapy for young individuals at risk of psychosis is urgently needed,” Dr. Bhattacharyya stated. “One of the primary benefits of cannabidiol is that it is safe and appears to be well accepted, making it an excellent therapy in certain aspects”.
The Botton Line
The research marks another step forward for CBD as a therapy for brain diseases. The US FDA authorized the first CBD-based medication to treat severe types of epilepsy earlier this year.
While CBD generated from cannabis is classified as a Schedule 1 prohibited drug under federal law in the United States, hemp-derived CBD is more commonly available, while its legality is still up in the air.
CBD appears to counteract the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that makes users high, according to a previous study done by members of this research team.
THC appears to mirror elements of psychosis in the brain and has been related to the onset of psychosis in certain users.
If CBD proves to be an effective anti-psychotic, it will illustrate another fascinating contradiction of a plant that science is just beginning to grasp!