One of the key things holding back medical marijuana in the past was the apparent negative effect that the herb could have on a user’s mental health. And indeed, there is evidence to suggest that the primary psychoactive cannabinoid, THC, can cause anxiety and even schizophrenia.
However, medical marijuana has moved way beyond treating patients with just THC. Recently, scientists have developed a greater understanding of the most abundant non-psychoactive cannabinoid, CBD, and have found that the cannabinoid can helped with the two mentioned mental disorders and several more.
One study, which looked at how CBD medication impacted schizophrenia, offered some “fascinating insights” on the condition and how CBD products could help treat other mental disorders, according to the researchers involved.
Why CBD may be able to treat mental health disorders
The National Institute of Mental Health defines schizophrenia as “a chronic and severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels and behaves.”
Hallucinations, agitation, memory difficulties and disrupted patterns are just four symptoms common in schizophrenia patients. Those with the disorder also tend to find it harder to retain and process information.
The CBD-schizophrenia study was conducted at the University of Wollongong in Australia and was led by Dr Katrina Green. The research was carried out as a follow up to a previous study which found that the cannabinoid could help to improve the learning and memory processes in cognitive impairment-related ailments, according to Dr Green.
The study aimed to determine whether cognition and social interaction among rats could be boosted by administering CBD. The results showed that cannabidiol can improve cognition, memory and social behavior.
As a natural antipsychotic, there is now talk that CBD may be able to medicate treatment-resistant schizophrenia, and at the very least be a useful medication with limited side effects.
Why are CBD studies on rats relevant?
You may be wondering what importance a study on how CBD can treat schizophrenia in rats has for humans? The brains and neurotransmitter systems in rats are closely related to those in humans. However, there is no substitute for clinical human trials, and more research to confirm what many now expect is the logical next step.
Enhancing our knowledge on how neurotransmitter signals respond to CBD should help us fully recognize the medical potential of the compound.
Does THC cause psychosis?
Anti-cannabis activists love to claim that THC can cause psychosis, and we have seen plenty of legitimate bodies purport this information. But is it really grounded in fact? There’s actually limited evidence available, and in truth, it’s far from clinical. Potential THC users who are prone to psychosis, anxiety and other mental disorders should be hesitant about taking THC, as should those with a family history of the condition.
But otherwise, the risks are pretty small. Cannabis use as a teenager, when the brain is still developing, could lead to mental health complications later in life.
The risk of THC-rich marijuana varies depending on whether a user is susceptible or non-susceptible to the risks, according to child and adolescent psychiatrist at TAU’s Sackler School of Medicine, Dr Ran Barzilay.
Genetics, a family history of psychiatric disorders and smoking marijuana during adolescence can all increase susceptibility, says Barzilay.
However, combining CBD with THC can significantly reduce the risk of THC-caused mental disorders. Dr Green said that CBD may be “capable of reducing cognitive impairment” that is considered to have come through THC use.
The recreational industry has craved increasingly potent THC strains to deliver maximum psychoactivity. However, to be on the safe side, recreational cannabis users may be advised to up the amount of CBD they take, to warn off any possible side effects.