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Cannabis Compound May Help Reduce Symptoms of Psychosis

Experts say cannabidiol may be able to help “reset” the brains of people who have conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Chronic marijuana use has been linked to increased risk of psychiatric problems. There’s even a name for the condition — cannabis-induced psychosis (CIP).

A new study , however, shows that a nonpsychoactive compound found in cannabis seems to reduce abnormal brain functions associated with psychosis, which includes diseases such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Researchers at King’s College London report in the journal JAMA Psychiatry that a single dose of cannabidiol (CBD) could someday be an effective alternative to the antipsychotic drugs in use since the 1950s.

These include Thorazine and Haldol, which have limited effectiveness and can cause serious side effects.

“It’s clear that the existing drugs have provided a lot of patients with schizophrenia the ability to function in society, but they’re not a cure,” Dr. Igor Grant, chair of the department of psychiatry at the University of California at San Diego School of Medicine and director of the school’s Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research, told Healthline.

“Our results have started unraveling the brain mechanisms of a new drug that works in a completely different way to traditional antipsychotics,” said lead researcher Dr. Sagnik Bhattacharyya, a reader in translational neuroscience and psychiatry at the King’s College London and the study’s lead researcher.

Grant said the study “adds to the growing hunch that CBD may be a useful alternative or adjunct to treating a very difficult to treat condition.”

A 2017 King’s College London study found participants treated with CBD had fewer psychiatric symptoms than those who received a placebo.

The research also indicated they were more likely to be evaluated as having improved conditions by their treating physician.

Grant says CBD was first revealed as a possible antipsychotic treatment by German researchers about a decade ago.

The mechanism by which it works is unclear, he says, although it’s possible CBD may inhibit an enzyme that clears anandamide. This is a natural antidepressant regulated by the brain’s cannabinoid system.

Experts say cannabidiol may be able to help “reset” the brains of people who have conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.