A new study in the American Journal of Psychiatry shows that cannabidiol (or CBD) reduces psychotic symptoms in patients with psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia.
CBD is a compound known as a cannabinoid that’s found in the cannabis (or marijuana) plant. It is known to have many therapeutic benefits, including anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, and anti-seizure properties. Considerable current research is focused on CBD.
The study was led by Philip McGuire, a Professor of Psychiatry at King’s College London (U.K.), and included other researchers from the U.K., as well as Poland and Romania. It involved an eight-week randomized, placebo-controlled trial at 15 hospital sites in those countries. It is the first placebo-controlled clinical trial of CBD as a treatment for psychotic patients.
Psychosis is a symptom of an underlying disorder, not a disease itself. It usually occurs in patients with mental illnesses like schizophrenia, but sometimes occurs in those suffering from other brain diseases. Psychosis usually manifests itself in hallucinations or delusions.
McGuire and his team found that the patients treated with CBD experienced a significant reduction is symptoms. The doctors monitoring them in the hospitals noticed the improvement too (without knowing which patients were receiving CBD).
“While it is still unclear exactly how CBD works, we know that it acts in a different way to antipsychotic medication, so it could represent a new class of treatment,” McGuire wrote in an article about the study.
CBD also shows little evidence of side effects — unlike traditional anti-psychotic medications. “The absence of side effects is also potentially important, as a key problem in caring for patients with psychosis is that they are often reluctant to take antipsychotic drugs because of concerns about side effects,” writes McGuire.
And traditional treatments don’t work at all for about a third of patients. That could make CBD extremely valuable, even if only a second-line psychosis treatment.