David Shukman, Science editor for the BBC writes that the weed so commonly used by many of his generation was characterized by being relatively balanced in CBD and THC compounds. Today, most cannabis sold on the streets is much stronger, which implies it contains much higher levels of THC, the substance, which makes you high.
This very strong weed, known as “skunk” contains as much as 15% more THC making it much more desirable for people who use cannabis in order to experience a high. The other side of the coin is that it contains hardly any CBD (cannabidiol), which lessens the ‘stoned’ effect. Because of this, the risks involved in using it are much greater.
This explains new evidence, which stirred the longstanding debate on whether or not cannabis triggers psychosis in users.
The latest research published in The Lancet Psychiatry suggests a connection. It is most relevant to people who are already prone to mental illness. The study conducted in South London, included 800 people, half of them using cannabis and the other half not using it.
Prof Sir Robin Murray of King’s College London co-author says it is clear that regular use of high potency skunk puts people at risk of becoming psychotic. “We found that smoking cannabis, particularly of the high-potency forms, was associated with an increased risk of becoming psychotic”. He says.
People smoking high-potency skunk could be three times more likely to experience psychosis. If you smoke high-potency skunk every day, you are five times more likely to become psychotic.
Here goes the flipside of the cannabis causing psychosis story
The other side to the yin and yang cannabis coin shows that while high-potency cannabis such as skunk, loaded with TCH can be linked to psychosis, its opposite twin, CBD, might be the very cure in treating it.
If this is confusing to you don’t be alarmed. These findings might just show how nature always brings balance and compensates in opposites.
Prof Val Curran of University College London made the yin yang analogy by saying,
“In a way, THC and CBD are a bit like yin and yang. The THC makes you stoned, but it can also make you anxious. It can also make you feel a bit psychotic, and it will seriously impair your memory”.
“The other side of the yin/yang is CBD, which has almost the opposite effects. CBD calms you down, it has anti-psychotic properties and it also offsets the effects on memory, so that on CBD-containing cannabis you’re less likely to forget what’s going on”.
Prof Murray proceeds with great caution as he explains, if you give THC to normal volunteers you can cause them to become psychotic, but if you pre-treat them with CBD, it is possible that you can prevent psychosis.
This lead to the obvious question: Could psychosis possibly be treated with CBD?
There is at least one encouraging study showing cannabidiol for psychosis treatment is useful and may work as well as existing drugs without the side-effects. However, this finding needs to be confirmed.
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Cannabidiol for psychosis?
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