Cannabis is widely used to treat a variety of physical ailments, from chronic pain to epilepsy to autism. Yet its application for mental illness has only begun to be explored: Do cannabis' healing properties extend to the mind as well?
British researchers may have the definitive answer. According to a recent study reported in the Journal of American Medicine Psychiatry, a team of scientists at King's College in London found that certain patients diagnosed with a clinical high risk (CHR) of psychosis experienced a decrease in abnormal brain activity when given high doses of CBD, the non-psychoactive component of cannabis.
Thirty-three patients identified with CHR along with a control group of 19 healthy participants were split into two groups; one received 600mg of CBD and the other a placebo. Researchers found that those with psychotic symptoms who were given CBD experienced reduced brain activity levels than those who were given the placebo, though the levels were not as low as those in the healthy control group.
Still, the results suggest that there is an alternative way to treat psychotic disorders than with the same anti-psychotic drugs that have been used since the 1950s, which often come with weight gain and lethargy as side effects.
“Our results have started unraveling the brain mechanisms of a new drug that works in a completely different way to traditional antipsychotics,” lead researcher Dr. Sagnik Bhattacharyya told British newspaper The Independent.
“One of the reasons CBD is exciting is because it is very well tolerated compared to the other anti-psychotics we have available.”
The newspaper also reported that the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College is planning another clinical trial to test the true potential of CBD as a treatment and has already begun recruiting the 300 participants needed for the study.
While there have been several studies that suggest a link between chronic cannabis use and mental illness, Dr. Bhattacharyya and his team are furthering the possibility that cannabis has positive applications for certain serious conditions.