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CBD Oil for treating schizophrenia

Evidence Based

Schizophrenia is a chronic and serious mental disorder that causes people to interpret reality abnormally. It has a range of problems with behavior, thinking, and emotions. Its symptoms vary but may include delusions (e.g., belief that one is in love or is going to be harmed), hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that do not exist), impaired thinking (which causes impaired speech), extremely disorganised or abnormal motor behavior, and lack of motivation. All these symptoms impair daily functioning and relationships, which can be disabling. These symptoms can vary in severity and type over time, with periods or worsening and reduction.

Schizophrenia is caused by neurodegeneration which causes problems with naturally occurring brain chemicals, including neurotransmitters such as dopamine and glutamate, which contribute to the condition. Neuroimaging studies have shown differences in the central nervous system and the brain structure of people with the condition. So, schizophrenia is known as a brain disease.

Current treatment

Current schizophrenia treatments focus on managing symptoms and solving problems linked to day-to-day functioning.

Cognitive behavioral therapy, cognitive remediation, behavioral skills training, and supported employment interventions deal with the negative and cognitive symptoms of the condition. These therapies are commonly combined with antipsychotic medication.

Antipsychotic medications in the form of daily pills or liquids, or monthly injections, help to reduce the intensity and frequency of psychotic symptoms. If symptoms do not improve with standard antipsychotic medication, patients can receive clozapine. However, clozapine creates dangerous side effects in 1-2% of the patients, so they need routine blood tests. Standard antipsychotic drugs also cause side effects such as dry mouth, weight gain, drowsiness, and restlessness which may subside or persist over time. Persisting side effects may cause some patients to stop taking the medication.

Scientists are investigating new options and CBD is one of the popular ones because there is increasing evidence that schizophrenia is associated with the presence of endocannabinoid system abnormalities.

How CBD oil helps with schizophrenia

In one study, healthy volunteers who received THC had acute psychotic-like symptoms, whereas pre-treatment with CBD decreased the THC-induced psychotic symptoms and impaired thinking. Now, scientists associate the use of CBD with fewer psychotic symptoms. The positive effect of CBD on the ability to think is good news for people with schizophrenia since 75-85% of them have impaired thinking problems. The problems with thinking usually come before other symptoms and respond poorly to pharmacological treatments.

The first study to use CBD as an antipsychotic medication involved a 19-year-old girl with schizophrenia. She received up to 1,500mg daily for four weeks and had significant improvement in her acute symptoms.

In another study done in 2006, CBD was used as the only treatment for treatment-resistant schizophrenia in three people. There was notable improvement in one patient.

A later trial studied the antipsychotic effects of CBD on six people who received a flexible dose up to 400mg/day. The subjects, who had Parkinson’s disease, showed improvement in their psychotic symptoms over a period of four weeks.

In a 2012 double-blind, randomized, controlled clinical trial, scientists compared the effects of amisulpride and 600-800mg of CBD on 42 people with schizophrenia over four weeks. The scientists found that CBD is as effective as amisulpride when used to treat psychotic symptoms. They also found that it has less adverse effects, including less weight gain and less extra pyramidal symptoms.

In a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, clinical trial, 88 participants with schizophrenia received either 1,000mg or placebo daily in addition to their antipsychotic medications for six weeks. The CBD group showed greater improvement of positive psychotic symptoms compared to placebo. By the end of the period, more patients in the CBD group were rated as “improved” compared to those in the placebo group. Also, they showed improved cognitive functioning and significant improvement of the motor speed.

How does CBD work?

CBD increases the cerebrospinal fluid levels of anandamide. Doctors have found that low levels of anandamide are linked to severe psychotic symptoms while higher levels are linked to clinical improvement. So, it is suspected that CBD improves psychosis by increasing endogenous levels of anandamide.

Scientists have also found that CBD can prevent or stop the damage of brain cells when given at certain concentrations through its neuroprotective, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Research found CBD is safer than pharmacological drugs

If you are schizophrenic and wish to try CBD oil, you need to know this. Scientists reviewed literature published on 132 studies that focused on epilepsy and psychotic disorders to determine the side effects that CBD has on users. They found that CBD can be used safely at high doses, and it can be tolerated when taken for a long time. They also found that it does not induce seizures or trance characterized by rigidity of body(catalepsy). They did not find any alteration in body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure, or any adverse effects on the digestive tract and food intake. So, it is safe for most people. However, they found that CBD may have side effects such as tiredness, diarrhea, and changes in appetite and weight on some people, but that its side effect profile is mild compared to drugs that are commonly used for these conditions.

CBD can interfere with about sixty medications, so it is wise to speak to your medical practitioner before taking it. Be extra careful when you take certain antipsychotic medicines, heart medicine, blood thinners, or drugs that weaken the immune system after transplant surgery.

Dr Ron Goedeke
Dr Ron Goedeke
Dr Ron Goedeke, specialises in alternative and functional medicine. He is a foundation member of the New Zealand college of Appearance medicine and has been a member of the American Academy of Anti-aging medicine since 1999. With over 20 years of experience in the anti-aging field, Dr Ron Goedeke is recognized as one of New Zealand’s leaders in this new and growing field of medicine.