Could CBD help treat schizophrenia?

  • Recent studies show cannabidiol (CBD) may have the potential to treat neurological conditions such as schizophrenia and Tourettes
  • Researchers are now calling for a closer look at CBD and its potential for certain mental health conditions for which more ‘traditional’ treatments have failed
  • CBD improved cognition and social interaction in rats
  • 220,000 people are being treated for schizophrenia in the UK by the NHS

Cannabis has often been attributed to causing mental illnesses, especially psychosis and schizophrenia. It is one of the only arguments left which the British Government use for justifying its Class B status.

Recent studies, however, have shown one of its essential components, cannabidiol (CBD), may have the potential to treat rather than trigger psychotic episodes.

CBD molecule
CBD’s molecular structure

Researchers at the University of Wollongong first discovered how CBD’s potential antipsychotic properties provided relief to schizophrenic patients.[/fusion_text][fusion_text]To understand the impact CBD could have on cognitive function, the team led by head researcher, Dr. Katrina Green, conducted a detailed review of 27 existing studies, uncovering some “fascinating insights” about its potential therapeutic value.

Discussing the findings from this initial study, Dr. Green explained:

“From this review, we found that CBD will not improve learning and memory in healthy brains, but may improve aspects of learning and memory in illnesses associated with cognitive impairment, including Alzheimer’s disease, as well as neurological and neuro-inflammatory disorders.

“Evidence suggests that CBD is neuroprotective and can reduce cognitive impairment associated with use of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive component of cannabis.”

…CBD may be able to treat some of the symptoms of schizophrenia that are seemingly resistant to existing medications.
– Dr. Katrina Green

Inspired by these initial findings, Ph.D. candidate Ashleigh Osborne, along with Dr. Green, began their own clinical trial, testing the impact CBD had on lab rats.

Scientists in trial

Researchers infected pregnant rats in the 15th day of gestation with polyinosinic-polycytidilic acid, a compound commonly which generate psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and autism in rats.

To test the impact CBD had, male babies were injected with 10 milligrams per kilogram of CBD for 3 weeks.

The team then measured the body weight, food, and water intake of the offspring every week.

The rats’ working memory and cognition were tested using rewarded alternation in T-maze tests and the Novel Object Recognition test. Additionally, sociability was tested sociability using a social interaction test.

Discussing the results, Dr. Green said: “We found that CBD was able to restore recognition and working memory, as well as social behavior to normal levels.

“These findings are interesting because they suggest that CBD may be able to treat some of the symptoms of schizophrenia that are seemingly resistant to existing medications.”

Interestingly, researchers found that CBD does not have the often-dangerous side-effects which come with traditional, pharmaceutical medications:

“In addition, CBD treatment did not alter body weight or food intake, which are common side effects of antipsychotic drug treatment.”

While the results were positive, the researchers stressed that further research is needed to see if CBD has the same therapeutic effect in humans.

The same research team now plans to investigate neurotransmitter signals in the brain to gain a better understanding of CBD’s potential therapeutic effect.

With more and more research providing evidence that cannabinoids have the potential to treat neurological conditions, how much longer can the British Government deny cannabis’ medicinal value in modern society?

References and further Reading