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Can CBD treat psychosis?

According to a recent study, cannabidiol (CBD) may be helpful in reducing the symptoms of psychosis. Indeed, researchers involved in the study found that the compound is effective thanks to its apparent ability to “reset” certain areas of the brain. 

Psychosis is not a condition in itself but is a symptom of a range of psychological disorders that manifest as a detachment from the real world. In other words, psychotic episodes tend to involve hearing, seeing or believing in things that are not real and often takes the form of hallucinations. Whilst psychosis is most commonly associated with schizophrenia, it can be triggered by other mental illnesses, substance abuse, trauma, stress, and even sleep deprivation.

The study consisted of 33 participants who were susceptible to psychotic episodes and a smaller control group of healthy participants. Half of the participants with psychosis were given an oral dose of CBD. The other half were given a placebo, whilst the control group did not receive any form of capsule. Participants were then asked to complete a task designed to test three areas of the brain that play a role in psychotic episodes.

Whilst participants completed the tasks, researchers studied their brain activity using an fMRI scanner. They found that the abnormal brain activity typically associated with psychosis was found in the placebo group, whilst the group that had received CBD presented less severe abnormalities. This suggested, therefore, that CBD played a role in “resetting” certain areas of the brain that are involved in psychosis. 

Conclusions from the study, therefore, included the assertion that CBD could present an effective new alternative to traditional antipsychotic drugs. 

Of course, the study did present a few limitations. Indeed, it was relatively small and the results do not tell us much about whether CBD represents a long-term solution for psychosis sufferers. With larger-scale trials already underway, however, the outlook appears promising. 

The need for an alternative to traditional antipsychotic drugs is particularly pressing at the moment. Some drugs currently marketed to treat psychosis have been around for over 60 years and come with a vast array of possible side effects such as muscle tremors. CBD, on the other hand, is generally very well tolerated by patients and is considered much safer than many standard antipsychotic treatments.