Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis. This compound has been the focus of a huge amount of medical research in recent years as scientists believe it contains medical properties that could transform the way we treat countless conditions today.
Mental illnesses are one group of conditions which are in urgent need of improved treatment options at present. In particular, those patients suffering from schizophrenia are faced with ineffective and/or risky treatment options at best.
Some researchers expect that CBD could play a role in developing new schizophrenia treatments that are not only more effective at reducing the severe and debilitating symptoms of the condition, but that will pose fewer side-effects too.
CBD affects the endocannabinoid system by binding the cannabinoid 1 receptor (CB1) in a passive way that indirectly stops the hyper-activation found in the CB1 receptor that is linked to schizophrenia.
CBD has shown to reduce the psychoactive properties of THC and other synthetic analogs. This idea has fueled two large-scale clinical trials with CB1-type cannabinoid receptor antagonists in schizophrenia.
However, these yielded negative results. A diametrically opposite view, namely that certain components of the endocannabinoid system might have a protective role in schizophrenia.
One study focuses on a 4-week double-blind study, where patients diagnosed with schizophrenia and were in in-patient treatment either received CBD treatment or amisulpride, which is an effective antipsychotic medication.
Results showed there was little difference in treatment between amisulpride and CBD. However, there was marked differences found in side effects associated with the two treatments.
Amisulpride has common side effects including weight gain, sexual dysfunction, and motor disturbances. CBD showed a significantly fewer symptoms in these areas, as well as no effect on hepatic or cardiac function.
Overall, CBD was well tolerated. The results provide evidence that the non-cannabimimetic constituent of marijuana, cannabidiol, exerts clinically relevant anti-psychotic effects that are associated with marked tolerability and safety, when compared with current medications.
These findings are the latest in a stream of others that show promise for the role of CBD in future treatments for schizophrenia and other mental illnesses. However, it will be some time before sufficient research has been conducted in order to being a safe and effective CBD-based drug to the market.
Here is the full scientific article if you wish to download it.