The history of cannabis and schizophrenia studies is convoluted. We now know that cannabinoids have extremely potent effects on the brain. We also know that cannabis contains a variety of chemicals, each of which has a particular effect on human cognition. As a result, experts believe that taking the cannabinoid THC may be a risk factor for developing schizophrenia, whereas other cannabinoids, such as CBD, may be able to alleviate symptoms. So, what effect does CBD have on our brain? What does this signify for persons who have schizophrenia? Here’s what the most recent research reveals.
Schizophrenia is a difficult-to-diagnose psychiatric disorder that disrupts brain function. The most common sign of schizophrenia is a loss of connection to reality, which can lead to delusions or hallucinations. This is referred to as psychosis.
However, the symptoms of schizophrenia go far beyond psychosis. It’s a disease that can have an impact on every aspect of your life. Positive, negative, and cognitive symptoms are the three types of schizophrenia symptoms recognized by psychiatrists. The easiest to notice are the positive symptoms. They include psychotic symptoms such as:
- Being delusional
- Speaking in an abnormal or disorganized manner
Schizophrenia also involves negative symptoms, which are symptoms that are characterized by a lack of something that most individuals have. These signs and symptoms, for example, are:
- Emotional loss
- Insufficient motivation
- Loss of enthusiasm for life
Finally, schizophrenia has an effect on brain function that might result in cognitive impairment. This can result in:
- Loss of memory
- Thinking that is disorganized
- Problems with learning
- Self-awareness is lacking
Which of the five forms of schizophrenia are there?
Psychiatrists divide schizophrenia into five varieties, despite the fact that all patients with schizophrenia will experience symptoms from all three categories.
- Paranoia is the predominant positive sign of paranoid schizophrenia, which is marked by intense delusions or hallucinations.
- Even in the absence of delusions or hallucinations, hebephrenic schizophrenia is characterised by odd speech and behaviour.
- Stupor is one of the main signs of catatonic schizophrenia, as is loss of speech.
- People with residual schizophrenia have symptoms of schizophrenia that fade away over time.
- People with schizophrenia symptoms that don’t fall into any of the other four categories are diagnosed with undifferentiated schizophrenia.
What factors contribute to the development of schizophrenia?
What causes schizophrenia is still a mystery to the scientific community. This condition causes chemical abnormalities as well as a somewhat altered brain shape. These are most likely the result of a combination of genetic and environmental influences. We’ve discovered that schizophrenia runs in families, so having a parent or family member with the illness could be a risk factor for developing it. Environmental factors, according to scientists, also have a role. High levels of stress and drug usage, for example, have been linked to the development of schizophrenia. However, it is still uncertain if they are true causes or simply risk factors.
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Is it possible for schizophrenia to fade away? Recognizing the various therapy options
Some persons have schizophrenic symptoms that subside over time (residual schizophrenia). This is, however, a rare occurrence. Schizophrenia affects the majority of people for the rest of their lives. There is no cure for it at the moment, however various treatments can help manage the symptoms. Antipsychotic drugs are frequently prescribed when someone is diagnosed with schizophrenia. Antipsychotic medications can help people with psychosis-like hallucinations and delusions, though it may take some time to find drugs that work for them.
Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications are examples of psychiatric treatments that can be used to aid with the negative symptoms of schizophrenia and to prevent typical psychosis triggers.
Finally, several types of therapy can assist people with schizophrenia in dealing with their symptoms in daily life. Talking to someone can help alleviate some of the most distressing symptoms of the disease. As a result, joining support groups for people with schizophrenia can be beneficial. Furthermore, treatment can help persons with schizophrenia develop coping techniques as well as communication skills that they may lack.
What we know about CBD and schizophrenia so far
CBD’s application in psychiatry is fast growing. CBD has been shown to benefit people with symptoms of depression, anxiety, social anxiety, and other mental health difficulties in recent years. The revelation that the chemical could help with even more severe symptoms, such as psychosis, was even more shocking. Clinical trials involving patients with schizophrenia are still rare. CBD, on the other hand, has been shown in experiments on animals and healthy volunteers to aid with some of the symptoms of schizophrenia. This is how it goes.
Is CBD effective in the treatment of schizophrenia?
Because the studies thus far seem to contradict each other, there has been some dispute surrounding the topic of cannabis and schizophrenia. Some studies, for example, suggest that cannabis can trigger psychosis in healthy volunteers, while others show that it can actually help them overcome it. Making the distinction between different cannabinoids is the key to solving the problem.
THC, the hallucinogenic ingredient found in marijuana, has been linked to an increased risk of developing schizophrenia.
Consuming CBD-rich cannabis strains, on the other hand, has been shown to reduce psychotic symptoms in trials. This indicates that, while the cannabis plant as a whole may not be suitable for the treatment of schizophrenia, the CBD molecule may be.
Is CBD effective in the treatment of psychosis?
CBD has been discovered to have antipsychotic properties in investigations over the years. This 2012 assessment of 30 years of cannabidiol research found that human and animal studies both point to the same conclusion: CBD can help people with psychosis. Although we don’t fully comprehend how this works, the review’s authors concluded that the evidence thus far support the use of CBD to treat schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.
Only a few research on patients with psychosis have been undertaken so far.
Three persons with treatment-resistant schizophrenia were given daily doses of CBD by a group of scientists in 2006. One of the three participants’ psychotic symptoms improved, according to the researchers.
More recently, scientists tested the effects of CBD in combination with other schizophrenia drugs in a study. For this six-week study in 2017, 88 individuals were given either a high daily dose of CBD (1,000 mg) or a placebo. In comparison to the placebo control group, those who took CBD exhibited a significant reduction in psychotic symptoms by the end of the study.
Despite the fact that these trials are currently small, they suggest that CBD may be beneficial for persons with schizophrenia because it appears to reduce psychotic symptoms.
What else can CBD do for people suffering from schizophrenia?
Psychosis is not only the most visible sign of schizophrenia, but it is also the most disabling. Regrettably, it isn’t the only one. Negative symptoms (such as a lack of desire and emotional flatness) as well as cognitive deficits are common in people with this illness (memory loss and attention deficit).
Depression affects up to a quarter of people with schizophrenia. Even if they don’t have a diagnosis of depression, people with schizophrenia frequently experience depressed symptoms such as a lack of desire, a loss of interest in activities, and a lack of social engagement. CBD has antidepressant qualities, which could make it effective for schizophrenia patients with depressive symptoms, according to several research. CBD has been demonstrated in animal tests to have a favourable impact on cognition. CBD supplementation boosted social interaction, recognition, and working memory in rats, according to a 2017 study. More human research are needed to validate the advantages to the brain, but these findings are intriguing. They believe that, in addition to reducing psychosis, CBD could help people with schizophrenia perform better in daily life.
Finally, many persons with schizophrenia claim that stress can cause psychosis, especially paranoia. Patients with schizophrenia are more likely to have delusions and hallucinations as their anxiety level rises. As a result, the fact that CBD reduces anxiety may make it even more effective in the treatment of schizophrenia. It has the potential to not only treat and relieve psychosis, but also to prevent one of its most common triggers.
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CBD: A New Schizophrenia Treatment?
CBD’s anti-psychotic properties have been recognized for years. However, research demonstrating the benefits of CBD for persons with schizophrenia have only been published in the last two decades. It has been shown in studies to reduce levels of psychosis when used in conjunction with medicine or on its own.
CBD may also help with non-psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia, such as cognitive deficits and sadness.
Finally, CBD may reduce tension and anxiety in schizophrenia patients, making them less prone to undergo violent psychotic episodes.
CBD has a very favorable safety profile, which is one of the best things about using it to treat schizophrenia. It’s well-tolerated and doesn’t cause substantial changes in appetite, sleep, or attention, unlike many antipsychotics. This suggests that persons with schizophrenia could use CBD in addition to their regular drugs without experiencing any unpleasant side effects. These latest studies, unfortunately, have a handful of flaws. The first is that there have only been a few studies on persons who are truly suffering from schizophrenia. The great majority of studies have been conducted on healthy individuals or animals.
The second difficulty is that clinical trials frequently employ very high CBD doses, exceeding 1,000 mg per person per day. Despite the positive outcomes of these studies, it may not be viable to give such high doses to schizophrenia patients due to economic concerns. At the absolute least, 1,000 mg of CBD would cost $70, and it may cost up to $200. This is a price that few individuals can pay on a daily basis.
CBD is currently one of the most promising natural medicines for mental health and psychiatry. It could give several benefits for persons with schizophrenia, including potent antipsychotics, anti-anxiety, antidepressants, and cognitive-enhancing properties. More research is needed, but the evidence we have so far suggests that supplementing with CBD is a low-risk alternative that could help with schizophrenia symptoms.
Cannabis and schizophrenia
2016 meta-analysis study on the connection between cannabis use and psychosis
2011 study on the connection between high-CBD cannabis on psychosis
CBD and schizophrenia
2012 review of studies on CBD and psychosis