The cannabis industry has seen an exponential rise in demand since the global wave of cannabis legalization and decriminalization. Previously, the stigma related to the substance made people harsh in their judgments about its use.
Furthermore, most countries worldwide do not allow their citizens to grow, possess, or use cannabis. Nevertheless, the advancements in the fields of science and technology have had many positive outcomes. Correspondingly, scientific research has been successful in bursting the myths surrounding cannabis use.
Meanwhile, the medical and recreational use of CBD is on the rise. Similarly, scientists are testing out the effects of CBD on mental health and its effectiveness in treating health conditions like schizophrenia. This article discusses everything you should know about scientific findings.
What Is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe mental illness that leads to cognitive impairment. In the US, the disease affects below 1% of the population. Moreover, this mental disorder affects a person’s behavior, thinking, and actions.
Although chronic schizophrenia is less common compared to other mental disorders, it can be the most disabling and impair daily functioning. Not to mention, patients with schizophrenia experience a disconnection from reality. Consequently, they withdraw from social settings and feel uncomfortable and scared at school or work.
While the disease has no cure, a proper treatment plan can effectively control its severity and allow the patient to live a better life. Schizophrenia is one of the most complex mental disorders; hence, people often confuse it with a dissociative personality disorder.
Not to mention, the Greek translation of the word, i.e., split and mind can be misleading. On the one hand, schizophrenia includes psychosis and impairs the patient’s ability to differentiate reality from imagination.
A psychotic episode involves an abrupt change in the personality and behavior of patients with schizophrenia. The severity of the disease differs in each individual, and the psychotic symptoms get better or worse throughout the patient’s lifestyle in cycles. Improvement in the condition is called remission, while relapse refers to the worsening.
Although schizophrenia is equally common in both males and females, its onset is early in males. Moreover, patients with schizophrenia have a shorter lifespan.
The cause of schizophrenia and other related mental disorders is unknown. Nevertheless, various factors may contribute to the onset of the disease.
Genetics, abnormality in prenatal brain development, and environmental conditions are a few of these factors.
Additionally, an imbalance in neurotransmitters, which are chemicals in the brain helping in cell-to-cell communication, like dopamine and glutamine, also enhances the risk of developing the disease.
Images from neuro mapping reveal that the brain structure and central nervous system vary in patients with schizophrenia. Although the impact of these differences is unknown, these verify schizophrenia as a brain disorder.
Symptoms Of Schizophrenia
In its active stages, i.e., during a relapse, the patient cannot distinguish reality from imagination. Also, cognitive impairments are common in people with schizophrenia. Not to mention, the duration and frequency of these relapses vary in every individual. Nevertheless, the severity of the psychotic symptoms decreases with age.
Some activities like alcohol consumption and the usage of illicit drugs can potentially increase the symptoms of schizophrenia. The symptoms of the disease are classified as positive and negative symptoms and disorganized symptoms.
- Positive Psychotic Symptoms: These include acute psychotic symptoms like hallucinations, delusions, and thought and movement disorder. Positive symptoms stabilize with time, proper care, and regular use of antipsychotic medication.
- Negative Psychotic Symptoms: These impair the person’s ability to carry on with daily life activities. Negative symptoms include loss of motivation and a decrease in the ability to express emotions.
- Disorganized Symptoms: These are cognitive symptoms in which the patient experiences trouble speaking, processing information, forming coherent thoughts, and trouble paying attention.
Although the early symptoms of schizophrenia may start appearing in early adulthood, for diagnosis, these symptoms must persist for six months. In addition, the physician needs to rule out substance abuse and other psychotic disorders with similar symptoms through a thorough medical examination.
Even though the fundamental cause of schizophrenia is unknown, studies correlate various factors to potentially increase the risk of developing the disease. These factors are:
- Family History: A family history of schizophrenia puts you at a higher risk, as genetics can increase the chances of developing the disease.
- Environmental Factors: Various surrounding factors also contribute to enhancing the chances of schizophrenia. Many brain disorders, like autoimmune diseases, put you at a greater risk. Not to mention, withstanding stress for an extended period also contributes to it.
- Prenatal Abnormalities: The chances of developing schizophrenia are higher in babies whose mothers are Vitamin D deficient, have diabetes, or have malnutrition during pregnancy. Furthermore, babies that are underweight at birth also have a greater possibility of developing the illness.
- Drug Abuse: Regular use of recreational drugs in the formative years also influences the chances of developing the disease later on in life.
There are no specific diagnostic tests to run on patients with schizophrenia. Nevertheless, healthcare professionals run a few tests to verify the condition, rule out other possible mental or psychological conditions, and for diagnostic purposes. Some of them include:
- Brain Imaging Tests: These are most likely to be either a computerized tomography scan (CT scan) or a functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These tests help in determining structural changes in the brain and also eliminate other possible problems like tumors and brain injuries.
- Tests For Detecting Chemical Changes: Healthcare providers can also ask for blood, urine, or cerebral sap tests to look for changes in the body fluid that can influence your behavior. Additionally, these tests also help in checking for metal toxicity and other infections.
- Psychiatric Evaluation: Apart from running tests, your doctor can also request for psychiatric evaluation to weigh your mental status. They observe your behavior and appearance and question your thought process as a part of this evaluation.
Patients with schizophrenia need to take antipsychotic drugs lifelong to keep their condition under control. Moreover, the disease has no cure.
However, antipsychotic medications and psychosocial therapies can help in treating psychotic symptoms. However, severe cases of schizophrenia may need hospitalization.
To efficiently reduce psychotic symptoms, patients must consult with an expert team consisting of a psychologist, social worker, nurse, and physician for the long-term management of the disease. Moreover, treatment plans are like to include:
- Antipsychotic Medications: Fundamentally, antipsychotic drugs help schizophrenia patients by regulating dopamine, a neurotransmitter. Nevertheless, the end goal is to manage the psychotic symptoms with the lowest possible dose of the medications possible.
Additionally, psychiatrists can also give antipsychotic medications in combination with other drugs like antidepressants to treat schizophrenia. However, many schizophrenia patients try to avoid the drugs because of their side effects.
- Individual Therapy: Along with medicines, patients with schizophrenia also take therapies to manage their disease. These help them handle the stress of living with a socially crippling disorder and help in identifying an incoming relapse.
- Social Skills Training: Schizophrenia is likely to make people socially distant and afraid of going out in public. However, social skills training helps improve their ability to interact and continue their daily activities.
- Family Therapy: Apart from schizophrenia patients, their families need to be informed about the disease and its management. This therapy is a means of providing support to those who live with schizophrenic people.
What Is CBD?
CBD is a naturally occurring chemical compound obtained from the Cannabis sativa plant. In contrast to THC, CBD does not have psychoactive properties. Moreover, even though the cannabinoid interacts with the endocannabinoid system, it is non-intoxicating.
Essentially, the endocannabinoid system controls the individual’s mood, response to pain, inflammation, appetite, memory, and immunity. Correspondingly, CBD attaches to the endocannabinoid receptors creating a soothing effect and relief from pain.
Marijuana and hemp are two different species of the cannabis plant. While there is a higher concentration of THC and lower CBD content in marijuana, hemp plants contain greater levels of CBD and relatively less THC.
How CBD Affects The Mind?
Primarily, cannabis contains more than a hundred chemical compounds called cannabinoids. However, the two most prevalent cannabinoids are cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
While both chemicals interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) of the body, they have contrasting effects on the body. On the one hand, CBD produces soothing, therapeutic effects on the mind and body. On the other hand, THC produces a high and has psychedelic effects.
Correspondingly, THC is still prohibited even though the Controlled Substances Act legalizes the use of hemp-driven cannabinoids. Moreover, the law requires the THC concentration to be less than 0.3% in CBD products.
One of the most controversial aspects of CBD products is their legality. In most states of the US, the use and possession of CBD lie in a legal gray area. The Farm Bill 2018 legalizes the use of hemp-driven cannabinoids.
However, the legislation prohibits the use of more than 0.3% THC in products. Meanwhile, most states of the US have their own regulations about the legality of the substance.
Expert’s Verdict: CBD For Schizophrenia
There has been an exponential rise in the use of CBD as an alternative medicine after the legalization of its medical and recreational use. Correspondingly, research supports the effectiveness of the cannabinoid in pain management, reducing anxiety and insomnia.
Not to mention, the FDA has approved the use of medical CBD to treat some severe cases of seizures and drug-resistant epilepsy. Similarly, the effectiveness of CBD in treating other conditions like schizophrenia is also under research.
Although the research is still preliminary, most scientific findings indicate that schizophrenic patients can benefit from CBD treatment. Particularly, cannabinoids can help patients manage psychosis.
Studies About CBD For Schizophrenia
On the one hand, the second most prevalent cannabinoid in cannabis, i.e., THC, is a psychoactive compound that can produce psychotic symptoms. Furthermore, long-term use of THC from an early age can potentially cause the development of schizophrenia.
On the other hand, evidence suggests the potential benefits of CBD in countering the effects of THC and helping patients. In a clinical trial in 2017, researchers considered whether CBD could be effective as an adjunctive treatment in treating schizophrenia.
In the study, scientists gave 1,000 mg of CBD to the study group every day and compared the results to a control group. The results of the study portrayed the potential benefits of CBD in reducing positive psychotic symptoms in schizophrenic people.
In another randomized placebo-controlled trial in 2018, scientists observed the effects of CBD on cognition. Researchers divided the 36 participants of the clinical trial into two groups: a CBD group and a placebo group. In the end, scientists concluded there were no drastic benefits of using CBD for improving cognition in schizophrenia patients.
In 2020, a relatively recent review found substantial evidence supporting the benefits of CBD as an antipsychotic chemical in clinical trials conducted within the last two years. However, it suggests the need for further studies observing the interaction of CBD with primary antipsychotic drugs.
Factors To Consider
Dealing with schizophrenia is a challenging ordeal, especially considering patients are unaware of what can trigger a relapse. However, if you suffer from treatment-resistant schizophrenia, the idea of self-medicating with CBD can be appealing.
Nonetheless, considering the complexity of the disease, you should refrain from making the decision without consulting your physician.
Although research suggests that CBD does not have adverse effects on patients with schizophrenia, there are a few factors you must keep in mind.
Buyer’s Guide: CBD For Schizophrenia
On the one hand, there is no research that correlates CBD as a cause of developing schizophrenia. On the other hand, exposure to THC in heavy doses during teen years can potentially lead to the development of the illness.
THC consumption also links to schizophrenia development in individuals with a family history of the disease. Alongside, side effects of THC consumption include hallucinations and impairment in cognitive function. Both are positive symptoms of schizophrenia and can trigger a relapse in the patient.
Correspondingly, schizophrenic patients should strictly avoid THC consumption. However, navigating through the CBD market can be daunting. Moreover, labels on the products can be misleading. Not to mention, the FDA does not regulate most CBD products.
Firstly, you should familiarize yourself with the terms you can find on CBD products:
- Full-spectrum CBD: This comes from hemp plants and contains all cannabinoids like CBG and CBN. These products also contain trace amounts of THC. However, the concentration of THC is below 0.3%, according to federal law.
- Broad-spectrum CBD: These products contain all cannabinoids except THC.
- Isolate/Pure CBD: These products only contain CBD. However, many brands also make false claims, and their products may contain THC.
- Hemp Seed Oil: This comes from cold-pressuring hemp seeds and does not contain CBD. Nevertheless, brands may sell CBD oil under its guise to avoid legal complications.
Considering the high chances of encountering scammers, you should be very careful while purchasing a CBD product. Also, ensure that the product you choose does not contain trace amounts of THC.
For schizophrenia patients, you should avoid using full-spectrum CBD products. Instead, rely on isolates and broad-spectrum CBD for your medical needs.
Finding products that fulfill your medical needs, provide value for money, and are safe for use is important. Consequently, as a buyer, you must conduct thorough market research to find a trustworthy brand.
Not to mention, you should verify the contents of the product to ensure that it does not contain THC. Also, look at its ingredients to check if it contains anything you might be allergic to.
To remain on the safe side, shop from brands that are transparent about their manufacturing process. Additionally, check the brand’s website for the Certificate of Analysis (COA) and third-party lab test results to verify that the products are safe for consumption.
Also, buy products from brands with a good market reputation. More often than not, a brand’s popularity comes from its remarkable services. Run the brand through the FDA’s warning letter database to authenticate that the brand sells legitimate products.
The dosage you must consume varies according to your unique needs and your method of CBD consumption. In clinical trials, scientists used high doses of CBD.
Nevertheless, your medical advisor will prescribe a dosage considering your disease. Also, your dose may vary depending on the type of CBD product you use.
While CBD is well-tolerated, high doses of the chemical compound can produce some adverse effects. A few of the common side effects associated with CBD consumption include dry mouth, diarrhea, fatigue, anxiety, irritability, and low appetite. Another risk of consuming high doses of CBD is its effect on liver health.
Interactions With Other Medications
Schizophrenia patients should be mindful of the risk of CBD interacting with other pharmaceutical medications. While the cannabinoid is usually harmless, they can potentially affect the metabolism of certain drugs.
Hence, you should refrain from using CBD products along with drugs that come with a ‘grapefruit warning.’ Both grapefruit and CBD affect the liver similarly, and they can alter the way your body processes the drug.
Meanwhile, more research should be done on the interaction of CBD with antipsychotic medications. However, scientists did not observe any drastic side effects in the aforementioned clinical trial. Nevertheless, thorough research is required.
In addition, various antipsychotic medicines come with a grapefruit warning. Hence, schizophrenia patients should abstain from self-medicating. Instead, talk to your physician to devise a safe method for you to use CBD treatment to manage psychotic symptoms.
How To Use CBD?
With progress in the cannabis industry, brands have come up with various methods of CBD consumption. CBD products are available in the form of vapes, oils, tinctures, concentrates, medicines, topical creams and ointments, flowers, and edibles.
The time it takes for the cannabinoid to kick in and how you consume the product depends on its form.
- Oils And Tinctures: Place a few drops of the oil under your tongue using the dropper that comes with the bottle. This method allows the oil to diffuse into your bloodstream more efficiently. Also, you can use oils and tinctures by mixing a few drops in your food or drink.
- Capsules: These are available in specific concentrations. The pre-dosage makes consumption easier. You can use these like any other capsule.
- Edibles: People who do not like the bitter taste of the concentrate and avoid taking pills can enjoy the benefits of CBD by consuming edibles. These are digestible products like CBD gummies, candy, and brownies. Nevertheless, these take longer to kick in and have longer-lasting effects.
- Topicals: Topicals are best for an instant, localized relief. You can apply these products directly to the skin to get relief from chronic pain. Topical products include creams, ointments, sprays, lotions, and balms.
As a beginner, it is best to start from a small dosage and build your body’s tolerance. Before taking a second dose, be mindful of the CBD product you use, and the time it takes to come into effect.
Conclusion: CAN CBD Treat Schizophrenia Patients ?
The increase in the use of CBD as an alternative to pharmaceutical drugs has led to an increase in its demand. However, patients suffering from schizophrenia should not self-medicate using CBD products.
Although the studies to date support the effectiveness of CBD in treating psychotic disorders, more research is needed to eliminate the doubts concerning the interaction of CBD with antipsychotic medicines.
Schizophrenia patients should follow the dosage their doctors prescribe. Additionally, beginners should start with a low dose. Not to mention, choosing a suitable product can be a daunting task for beginners.
Therefore, look for brands with a good market reputation, and check the product’s COAs and lab test results to verify its safety for consumption.
Moreover, check the other ingredients to ensure it does not contain anything you might be allergic to. Also, be mindful of the potential side effects of using CBD on a schizophrenic patient.