Study: Cannabidiol can Offer Anti-Psychotic Effects

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King’s College London researchers offer hope for reducing abnormalities

Research from King’s College London has found that a single dose of the cannabis extract cannabidiol can help reduce brain function abnormalities seen in people with psychosis. Results from a new MRC-funded trial, published in JAMA Psychiatry, provide the first evidence of how cannabidiol acts in the brain to reduce psychotic symptoms.

Cannabidiol, also referred to as CBD, is a non-intoxicating compound found in cannabis. A purified form of cannabidiol has recently been licensed in the USA as a treatment for rare childhood epilepsies. However, exactly how cannabidiol may work in the brain to alleviate psychosis has remained a mystery.

The researchers studied a group of 33 young people who had not yet been diagnosed with psychosis but who were experiencing distressing psychotic symptoms, along with 19 healthy controls. A single dose of cannabidiol was given to 16 participants while the other 17 received a placebo.

“The mainstay of current treatment for people with psychosis are drugs that were first discovered in the 1950s and unfortunately do not work for everyone,” says Dr Sagnik Bhattacharyya, from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN). “Our results have started unravelling the brain mechanisms of a new drug that works in a completely different way to traditional anti-psychotics.”

All participants were studied in an MRI scanner while performing a memory task which engages three regions of the brain known to be involved in psychosis.

As expected, the brain activity in the participants at risk of psychosis was abnormal compared to the healthy participants. However, among those who had cannabidiol, the abnormal brain activity was less severe than for those who received a placebo, suggesting cannabidiol can help re-adjust brain activity to normal levels.

SOURCE: World Pharma News

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Rob Senior
Rob Senior

Rob has 15 years of experience writing and editing for healthcare. He previously worked for ADVANCE from 2002 to 2012.