Posted on Aug 30, 2018, 11 p.m.
A single dose of a cannabis extract has been reported to help decrease brain function abnormalities in psychosis patients, findings provide evidence of how cannabidiol acts on the brain to help reduce psychotic symptoms, as published in JAMA Psychiatry.
King’s College London researchers have provided first evidence of how cannabidiols act on the brain to reduce psychotic symptoms, findings from their study has started to unravel the brain mechanisms of a new drug that works in completely different ways to traditional psychotics.
Cannabidiol aka CBD is a non-intoxicating compound found within cannabis, contrary to propaganda and fear mongering it will not get a user high. Purified form of cannabidiol has recently been approved by the FDA for licencing within the USA for treatment of some epilepsies, this study has demonstrated that cannabidiol has antipsychotic properties as well.
A group of 33 people not diagnosed with psychosis but were experiencing distressing psychotic symptoms along with 19 healthy controls with an average age of 23.89 years were studied in this double blind randomized clinical trial. A single dose of 600 mg of cannabidiol was given to 16 subjects with an average age of 22.43 years with the other 17 receiving a placebo having an average age of 25.35 years.
The 52 subjects were all studied with MRI scanners while performing memory tasks which engaged 3 regions of the brain know to be involved with psychosis: the striatum, midbrain, and medial temporal cortex. Brain activity in subjects at risk for psychosis was abnormal, among those who had cannabidiol intervention abnormal activity was less severe, suggesting cannabidiol may help re-adjust brain activity to normal levels. Influence of CBD on these 3 brain regions may underlie its therapeutic effects in psychotic symptoms.
Previous studies shows CBD appears to work in opposition to THC. THC/tetrahydrocannabinol is the compound within cannabis that is responsible for getting users high, while CBD has broadly opposite neurological and behavioural effects.
The first large scale, multi-centre trial is now being launched to investigate whether cannabidiol can be used to treat patients at high risk for developing psychosis, the trial is supported with a £1.85 million grant from a NIHR and MRC partnership.
It is estimated that over 15,000 individuals present with early symptoms of psychosis each year in England alone; symptoms can be extremely severe and there are currently no known treatments available that can be offered to patients at high risk of developing psychosis as current antipsychotic drugs can have serious side effects.
One of the many advantages to cannabidiols is that CBDs are safe and appear to be well tolerated, making it in many ways an ideal treatment for many. Should this new trial be successful it will provide definitive proof of cannabidiol/CBD’s role as antipsychotic treatment and help pave the way for its broader use in the clinic.
Materials provided by King's College London.
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Sagnik Bhattacharyya et al. Dysfunction in People at Clinical High Risk of PsychosisA Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Psychiatry, 2018 DOI: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2018.2309