CBD can reset the brain to counter the symptoms of psychosis
Cannabidiol (CBD), continues to attract attention as a potential treatment for disorders and diseases ranging from epilepsy to cancer. Now, a new brain imaging study suggests that a single dose of CBD can reduce symptoms of psychosis by “resetting” activity in three areas of the brain. If it can be replicated, the study offers the first evidence-based explanation of how CBD works in the brain to counteract psychosis. This with results that could help generate new treatments.
Psychosis is not a single condition or disorder. But rather a symptom of other disorders characterized by a detachment from reality. Seeing, hearing, or believing things that are not real, including hallucinations, is typical of a psychotic episode. The exact causes of psychosis are not known. But it is believed to be triggered by the mental illness, trauma, Addiction and extreme stress.
Although psychosis is most often associated with schizophrenia. But, it actually affects a much larger segment of the population. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, at least 100 000 people a year are experiencing their first episode of psychosis in the United States.
The study was published in JAMA Psychiatry. It includes 33 participants who presented with psychotic symptoms. A smaller group of healthy participants served as a control group. Half of the psychosis group received an oral dose of 600 mg of CBD (a dose that was “previously effective in established psychosis” according to the study).
The other half received an identical placebo capsule. The control group received no medication. Next, all participants were asked to complete a memory task designed to engage three areas of the brain. Areas related to the onset of psychosis (particularly the striatum, medial temporal cortex, and midbrain) while their brains were examined with an fMRI scanner.
Scans showed abnormal activity in the brains of participants with symptoms. This compared to the healthy control group – which was expected. But the brains of those who took a dose of CBD showed less severe abnormalities than the brains of those who took a placebo. Which suggests that the CBD compound “reset”abnormal activity in key areas of the brain.
“The results have begun to unravel the brain mechanisms of a new drug that works in a completely different way to traditional antipsychotics,” said the study's lead author, Dr. Sagnik Bhattacharyya of the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King's College London.
However, the study had limitations. Factors could influence the result, such as:
“rapid changes in cerebral perfusion that are known to occur with a single dose of psychoactive drugs.” In other words, they may have witnessed a short-term effect that will not last. Quote from the study: “It is also unclear whether the effects of CBD will persist after longer-term treatment.”
Large scale test
The next step, already underway, is a large-scale human trial. This is to replicate the same results and to determine if CBD is a viable treatment. If successful, the drug would be immediately differentiated from other drugs on the market. Some of the more common drugs have serious side effects. Including muscle tremors and excessive sedation.
“There is an urgent need for safe treatment for young people at risk of psychosis.” Adds Dr Bhattacharyya. “One of the main benefits of cannabidiol is that it is safe and appears to be very well tolerated. Which makes it, in a way, an ideal treatment.
CBD as a treatment for brain disorders
The study represents another step forward for CBD as a treatment for brain disorders. Earlier this year, the US FDA approved the first drug with CBD to treat severe forms of epilepsy.
Members of this research team conducted an earlier study showing that CBD appears to counterbalance the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is said to be linked to the onset of psychosis in some users and seems to mimic the aspects psychosis in the brain… If CBD proves to be an effective antipsychotic, these findings will highlight another striking paradox of a plant that science is only beginning to understand.
To learn more about the antispychotic properties of CBD