Schizophrenia is a serious mental condition causing people to interpret reality differently. There could be hallucinations – usually voices – delusions, paranoia and highly disordered thinking. Among the other symptoms are social withdrawal, decreased emotional expression and apathy. It affects less than 1% of people.

Schizophrenia is really bad. Photo: Mark Turnauckas

Schizophrenia is really bad. Photo: Mark Turnauckas

Although less common than other major mental illnesses, schizophrenia is perhaps the most disabling. The (US) National Institute of Mental Health calls it one of the top 15 leading causes of disability worldwide.

It isn’t possible to treat schizophrenia in such a way as to cure it, and it lasts a lifetime. It is, however, possible to control it. It first appears in men in their late teens and early 20s and in wimmen in their 20s and 30s. It’s rarely seen in people under 12 or over 40. CBD might help. THC, however, does the opposite and can trigger it and more so the younger you start. Hence people suffering from schizophrenia are advised to avoid cannabis.

So here are some studies

The first evidence that CBD might treat the symptoms of schizophrenia was a 19-year-old female patient. She had been unresponsive to the standard anti-psychotic drug haloperidol but improved markedly after four weeks of CBD. The case study appeared in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry in 1995.

A study whose results were published in the journal Translational Psychiatry in 2012 showed that CBD taken by schizophrenics every day for four weeks was as effective as the common anti-psychotic drug amisulpride. It also had fewer adverse effects, such as weight gain and movement problems.

The results of a randomised, placebo-controlled study were published in the American Journal of Psychiatry in 2018. This found CBD to treat schizophrenia’s symptoms by reducing psychotic symptoms and improving cognitive performance and overall functioning in people with schizophrenia. The study lasted for eight weeks and covered 83 patients in the United Kingdom, Poland and Romania.

Not all studies agree

A study published in Psychopharmacology in 2018 found that CBD did not treat schizophrenia symptoms. Research published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology in 2017 showed that a mere third of human subjects exhibited improvement in their schizophrenia, and a mild one at that, when given CBD. The authors believed CBD might be more useful when used with other therapies.

Some doctors prescribe CBD for schizophrenia

The US Food and Drug Administration recently approved Epiodolex. This is pure CBD and is employed for the treatment of the rare forms of epilepsy Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. Although it is officially only used on these two conditions, doctors can use it for others based on their own judgement. Schizophrenia is one such.

How CBD works here

The ways that CBD can treat schizophrenia symptoms are that it alleviates anxiety and depression, regulates the balance of the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin and glutamate, increases blood flow to the cortical regions of the brain, improves sleep quality and duration and regulates the vanilloid receptors, which play a part in pain perception and inflammation.

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