Although THC rich cannabis has been cited as a possible trigger for psychosis, particularly in teens, a London scientist says that another cannabis derivative, CBD oil, could have the opposite effect. It comes down to the cannabinoid composition of cannabis says associate professor at Western University’s School of Medicine and Dentistry Steven Laviolette. IF Press reports.
THC triggers psychosis, CBD may be a cure
Recreational cannabis or marijuana contains a lot of THC, and news reports have mentioned concerns about the increased THC content in modern marijuana. The Western University’s School of Medicine and Dentistry is the same lab that found that THC could trigger psychosis in teens, but Dr Steven Laviolette says his new finding isn’t contradictory.
He says that the Cannabis plant contains two compounds that have opposite effects. THC can induce psychosis, but another compound found in cannabis, CBD offers curative potential. He says that CBD affects the brain in positive way, and could be used as a treatment for existing psychosis, while THC can lead to schizophrenia, even when adults use it.
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It should be noted that Dr Laviolette’s new study was done on rats and not on human beings, so his results are not yet sufficiently conclusive to allow anyone to say that CBD really is a cure for schizophrenia. Nevertheless, the findings are interesting and should lead to further studies and possibly clinical trials in human beings.
Dr Laviolette and his colleague, Dr Renard, found that CBD affected the brain’s dopamine system. They believe that this indicates that CBD is a means of lessening the effects of psychosis and may impact on other cognitive disorders.
Aren’t existing psychiatric drugs good enough?
Dr Laviolette says that existing anti-psychotic drugs have ‘limited’ efficacy and ‘horrible’ side-effects. As a result, he believes that a better alternative is desperately needed, and that CBD might just be the answer he’s looking for.
His work is related to previous studies that showed CBD oil could be helpful as a psychiatric medicine, but differs from earlier research in that he was able to determine the exact mechanism through which CBD oil may affect the brain in a positive way.
He says that existing anti-psychosis drugs have many of the same side effects often attributed to THC: lack of motivation and sleepiness being among these. CBD, on the other hand, doesn’t have these negative side-effects, he says. His findings show that CBD bypasses the pathways that most antipsychotic drugs use, and he believes this may be why the cannabis compound is less likely to cause unpleasant side effects.
Schizophrenia not the only potential use for CBD oil as a psychiatric medicine
Reporting on the recent publicity for medical cannabis as a means of treating PTSD, the US Department of Veteran Affairs warns that THC has only shown a temporary reduction in symptoms and warns doctors not to ignore ‘substance abuse’ among their patients. However, it also notes that CBD has shown promise in early PTSD studies and that the same appears to be true when CBD is used as a treatment for anxiety.
As for prescribing CBD oil for PTSD, anxiety or schizophrenia, doctors will be unable to do so until randomized, peer-reviewed human trials have been conducted.
What’s your take?
Is the scientific community being too conservative? Remember that other ‘promising’ drugs that actually gained FDA approval have turned into disasters. Should the man in the street see CBD research as ‘showing promise’ or should we already be pushing for CBD oil to become a recognized psychiatric drug?