Therapeutic Role of CBD . Leweke FM, Piomelli D, Pahlisch F, et al. Cannabidiol enhances anandamide signaling and alleviates psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia. Transl Psychiatry. 2012 Mar 20;2:e94.
While THC, the compound in cannabis responsible for the euphoric “high,” is known to increase the severity of psychotic symptoms in schizophrenia patients, another cannabinoid in cannabis — the non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) — has been shown to be therapeutic for schizophrenia symptoms.
Based on CBD’s known anti-anxiety activity, researchers conducted a small pilot study on CBD in 42 patients with paranoid schizophrenia in 2012. This Phase II, double-blind, four-week trial compared CBD treatment with the antipsychotic drug amisulpride and found that CBD improved symptoms as well as the pharmaceutical — and that it produced fewer negative side effects.17
“It’s a small study so we have to see if the data is replicated in larger groups of people,” said Dr. Giuffrida, noting that CBD “is definitely one of the most exciting areas in the cannabinoid field.” He explained that although CBD’s activity within the brain is not yet completely understood, this compound is pharmacologically different from THC in that it does not bind to the CB1 receptor in the brain, whereas THC does. Additionally, he said some animal and human studies show that CBD boosts levels of the endocannabinoid anandamide, and elevated anandamide seems to have a beneficial effect on schizophrenia.
“These results suggest that the inhibition of anandamide activation may contribute to the anti-psychotic effect of cannabidiol,” said Dr. Giuffrida, “which possibly represents a completely new mechanism of treatment for schizophrenia.”