The therapeutic compound found in marijuana known as cannabidiol can help treat patients diagnosed with psychoses, new research suggests.
In a study published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry, researchers from Kingâ€™s College London found that a small dose of CBD can significantly reduce the abnormal brain activity that causes symptoms of psychosis.
â€śThe mainstay of current treatment for people with psychosis are drugs that were first discovered in the 1950s and unfortunately do not work for everyone,â€ť Dr. Sagnik Bhattacharyya, lead researcher at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at Kingâ€™s College, said in a press release.
Researchers studied 52 people in their mid 20s between 2013 and 2016. 33 of which reported experiencing psychotic symptoms, but were not yet diagnosed. 19 were healthy controls.
Participants were scanned by an MRI while performing tasks that employ certain regions of the brain known to be involved in psychosis. Patients at risk of psychosis showed abnormal brain activity compared to healthy participants, but those who were given doses of CBD experienced less severe abnormal brain activity compared to those given a placebo.
â€śOne of the main advantages of cannabidiol is that it is safe and seems to be very well tolerated, making it in some ways an ideal treatment,â€ť Bhattacharyya said.
The researchers are now planning the first large scale trial to investigate the effects of cannabidiol in young people at high risk of developing psychosis.
â€śThere is an urgent need for a safe treatment for young people at risk of psychosis. One of the main advantages of cannabidiol is that it is safe and seems to be very well tolerated, making it in some ways an ideal treatment,â€ť said Bhattacharyya. â€śIf successful, this trial will provide definitive proof of cannabidiolâ€™s role as an antipsychotic treatment and pave the way for use in the clinic.â€ť
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