CBD Oil for Schizophrenia (Psychosis)
Without a doubt, schizophrenia is one of those conditions that sends a shiver done everyone’s spine. Whether it is out of fear that the schizophrenic person is dangerous, or out of fear that you could ever develop it yourself, schizophrenia is just one of those conditions that is at once serious, misunderstood, and frightening.
Characterized by a myriad of symptoms including confused thinking, false imaginings, and intense anxiety, sufferers of schizophrenia often feel like there’s nothing that anyone can do to help them deal with their condition.
However, interesting data has been revealed over the course of the past few years that has shed new light on the use of cannabis – and specifically CBD oil – to help mitigate some of the most severe and dangerous complications of shizophrenia (otherwise known as psychosis).
Could CBD oil for schizophrenia actually end up being a practical, reliable form of treatment? In this article, we take a look at some of the most relevant scientific publications in an effort to answer that question as best we can.
What is Schizophrenia?
Before we can consider whether or not CBD oil might be able to be used to treat this horrendously difficult medical condition, we first need to fully understand what it is, and how it works.
In the most basic of senses, schizophrenia is a mental disorder that is defined by the vague description of “abnormal behavior.” The principal issue is that a schizophrenic individual has difficulty understanding reality, sometimes to the point of hearing voices that do not exist, or generally believing things are real when they are not (or vice-versa).
The whole idea of the condition sounds nebulous and difficult to understand, and it is. In fact, very little is actually known of the physiology behind schizophrenia, how it onsets in certain individuals, and how it progresses as a disease.
Also, many people tend to confuse schizophrenia with Dissociative Identity Disorder (commonly known as Split Personality Disorder), but these, in fact, are two very different conditions (it’s just that many times a person will suffer from both DID and schizophrenia).
The worst part about schizophrenia as a disorder is that its cause is, as of yet, completely unknown. It has been linked to such factors as poor nutrition and genetics, and some researchers have even suggested that factors like growing up in an overcrowded city can result in the onset of pre-schizophrenic symptoms.
Realistically, all that we know is the condition typically manifests in early adulthood, and often requires intense rounds of medication, as well as counseling and a radical shift in lifestyle. Other than endless antipsychotic medication, however, we have very few resources to actually try and cure a schizophrenic’s condition.
However, recently scientists have begun investigating the possibility of using CBD oil for schizophrenia, believing that it may express certain neurological factors that can help mitigate the chemical pathways of onset symptoms. Of course, the use of CBD for schizophrenia has not been conducted under controlled clinical trials, so any available information in the topic is embryonic, at best.
Marijuana vs. CBD for Schizophrenia: The Major Difference
Using marijuana to try and treat schizophrenia might seem a strange idea to some, as one of the most well-known (potential) side effects of cannabis use is increased levels of psychosis. In fact, THC’s ability to stimulate and interact with brain chemistry has been well-documented over the years, specifically in this 2008 study for the Journal of the World Psychiatric Association.
The study basically said that regular, excessive cannabis use has the potential to lead to an increased risk of developing schizophrenia, primarily due to unchecked dosage levels while using marijuana for the treatment of other medications.
However, the key thing to consider is that this is only looking at THC, the well-known cannabinoid that gets us high. As is increasingly becoming known, however, THC isn’t the only important cannabinoid within cannabis – CBD is just as important, and arguably more beneficial from a medical perspective.
Cannabidiol, or for simplicity’s sake CBD, exists alongside THC in cannabis plants and performs a few very interesting functions in the body. Alongside interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in almost the same manner as THC, CBD also acts as a sort of “counter” to THC in the body.
This fact was discovered almost by accident, as researchers were originally trying to study the increased psychotic effects of regular THC use, but they noticed something interesting – that marijuana strains with a higher CBD content tended to cause fewer episodes of psychosis.
In a seminal study for the Journal of Schizophrenia Research, scientists discovered that cannabis strains with higher CBD content actually worked to reduce symptoms of artificial psychosis, as well as improving their overall mental well-being.
The study also found that the ideal ratio of THC to CBD was roughly 10:1, but in many strains that are commercially available today, the ratio is weakened for the benefit of getting more THC into their marijuana (and thus, increasing the “high” that we experience).
With this in mind, how might CBD oil for schizophrenia actually be able to help treat the onset of psychositic symptoms and manic episodes? Let’s take a little deeper look.
CBD Oil, Schizophrenia, and Complex Brain Chemistry
Antipsychotic drugs, at least the kind that are generally used to try and treat schizophrenia, are not a very pleasant thing. Often considered to be little more than tranquilizers, this class of medication is used frequently to keep schizophrenic symptoms under control while also relieving the intense anxiety and frequent mental disorders that also come with the condition.
The side effects of these drugs are unpleasant (such as metabolic syndrome and involuntary movement disorders), and also tend to leave the user feeling pretty unaware, out of touch with their feelings, or “muted” (as some like to put it).
Considering these problematic symptoms, it is no surprise that schizophrenia sufferers will look to anything to try and treat their condition. In fact, more and more sufferers of the condition are beginning to turn to CBD oil for schizophrenia, as they have heard that it has the potential to work wonders on virtually all aspects of the body and mind. But how exactly does it work?
Well, numerous studies – originally born as a result of the accidental discovery of high-CBD content leading towards lower levels of psychosis – have been conducted into discovering CBD oil’s potential medicinal benefits for schizophrenia. One study, for example, conducted by Zuardi et al., studied the effect CBD had on two groups, using one as a control treated only with regular antipsychotic medication.
The study demonstrated that, among the schizophrenia patients dosed with CBD, their symptoms were decreased at a much higher rate, as well as the sufferers reporting that they simply felt better mentally.
This increased rate of treatment of their schizophrenia symptoms was also accompanied by no significant side effects, especially when compared to regular antipsychotic medication. Unlike the THC within cannabis, CBD doesn’t appear to cause any kind of psychoactive high, nor does it lead to addiction – as is so often the case with other drugs.
Though this study actively demonstrated that those treated with CBD had an increased reduction of schizophrenia symptoms, it didn’t explain how – or why – these symptoms were treated. This is something that the scientific world is still struggling with; when it comes to biochemistry, it’s very difficult to successfully model the exact mechanisms of certain drugs and their interaction with the innumerable complex molecular pathways in our brain. However, one study has come pretty close.
In a recent publication for the Journal of Translational Psychiatry, researchers began by comparing schizophrenia patients’ symptoms with some patients dosed with CBD, and others without. Also, this study took it a step further and monitored the subject’s biochemical levels, as well as the effects the different medications had on the patients.
CBD was once again demonstrated to be of significant help to the patients; however this time, something else was noticed – particularly in the odd way that CBD appeared to have the “opposite” effects as THC.
CBD is of course pretty similar to THC from a structural standpoint, but subtly different in how it interacts with the body. Instead of directly attaching to the endocannabinoid system’s primary receptors, for instance, CBD acts to inhibit the degradation of the endocannabinoid anandamide.
While that admittedly sounds very confusing, it basically means that CBD doesn’t actually turn on our receptors, it just stops the receptors from getting turned off at all. Or in other words, it works by shutting off the chemical in the body that acts to shut down the receptor, allowing anandamide to essentially stay alive longer rather than degrading.
When studying the patients dosed with CBD, researchers noticed that the serum levels of anandamide were significantly increased, which in turn led to the continued build-up of effects on the brain.
This meant that CBD not only caused its expected effects in the brain through the release of serotonin and cellular reconfiguration, but also that it led to an excess in anandamide, the cannabinoid that is often associated with pleasant feelings (its name actually comes from the Sanskrit word for ‘joy’).
Basically, this meant that CBD not only reduced the symptoms of schizophrenia in the study, but it actually led to a continued increase of beneficial anandamide compounds. All in all, this represents a completely new and different method of treating schizophrenia, as it not only just gets rid of the unpleasant symptoms, but actually appears to help treat the root of the problem.
Final Thoughts on CBD Oil for Schizophrenia
When reading about new and exciting ways to treat unpleasant and debilitating conditions, the first response is to immediately assume that it’s the “perfect cure,” – that everything will be okay and we can treat every psychotic and schizophrenic patient in the world, with equal results.
Sadly, we are not quite there yet.
Studies into CBD oil for schizophrenia are still in their very early stages, and though we can easily observe in repeatable studies that CBD oil might be able to act to help treat the symptoms of the disorder, we still do not know the exact dosage that causes these effects, nor do we know if it works for every single person.
Moreover, CBD oil is still in a legal grey area in the USA (as well as the rest of the world). Even if it were found to be the “miracle” cure that schizophrenic patients have been looking for, it would still take time to ensure that it is legal, affordable, and able to be administered safely.
Simply put, more studies need to be carried out regarding CBD oil’s long-term effects on schizophrenic patients, as well as its overall effect on their mental health after repeated high doses.
That said, if you suffer from schizophrenia and have been considering asking your doctor about CBD oil – it’s very much possible that you may experience positive effects from the natural compound, as discussed in the research publications mentioned above.
Consider trying CBD oil for schizophrenia yourself to see if it helps treat your symptoms, but just remember to consult your doctor no matter what you do – cannabidiol is still sadly “uncharted,” and it goes without saying that we have many more years of study left before we understand it completely.