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Medical Cannabis for Schizophrenia: Treatment Myths and Facts

14 March 2023

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Key Points

  • Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that affects about 1% of the population. People with schizophrenia may hear voices and believe others are reading their minds, controlling their thoughts or plotting to harm them.
  • The condition can be devastating for those suffering, but there is hope. Current treatment options include medications and therapy, but many people with schizophrenia do not respond well to these treatments. Some patients also have side effects from their medications, making it difficult to follow through on treatment plans.
  • In recent years, research has shown that cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis plants, may be an effective treatment option for people with schizophrenia. Medical CBD for schizophrenia treatment has been shown to help reduce the symptoms of psychosis.
  • Schizophrenia patients should stay away from any cannabis medications that contain THC. THC can worsen the symptoms of schizophrenia because of the cannabinoid’s psychoactive effects.
  • Patients should always consult a physician before using medical cannabis for schizophrenia treatment. Here at The Medical Cannabis Clinics, we help patients find the right medical cannabis treatment for their symptoms. We offer various strains and products that can be used to treat schizophrenia and other mental health conditions.

Schizophrenia is a mental illness that affects the brain and can cause hallucinations, delusions and disorganised thinking. It’s also a chronic condition that requires long-term treatment.

Current treatment for schizophrenia involves a complex regimen of therapy and medication. Many people with schizophrenia have tried several different medications to manage their symptoms without success, or they’re not tolerating them well. Aside from the side effects, many people find that their symptoms don’t respond to conventional antipsychotic medications.

Naturally, more and more people are looking for natural alternatives to treat schizophrenia. One of the most popular alternatives is cannabis, which has been used for thousands of years as a medicinal herb.

There’s some evidence that cannabis can help people with schizophrenia manage their symptoms better than conventional medications alone. Because CBD has been shown to be effective in managing these symptoms, some patients with schizophrenia try CBD for the first time to see if it helps improve their quality of life.

But what does the research say about this? Does medical cannabis or CBD work for schizophrenia? How do you know if it’s safe to use? This article will answer those questions and more.

Schizophrenia: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Causes

Image of the word schizophrenia in a dictionary highlighted in pink

Schizophrenia is a severe mental illness that disrupts how you think, feel, and behave. People with schizophrenia may seem withdrawn or confused; they often have trouble carrying out daily tasks and don’t understand what is real or not real.

Symptoms

Some people with schizophrenia hear voices other people don’t hear. Others may believe others are reading their minds, controlling their thoughts, or plotting to harm them.

Here are some of the most common symptoms of schizophrenia:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Disorganised speech, which can include frequent derailment or incoherence
  • Disorganised behaviour, such as dressing inappropriately for the weather or not bathing for days on end

Schizophrenia symptoms can be classified into three different types:

  • Psychotic Symptoms – Refer to symptoms that change how one experiences and senses their environment. This includes hallucinations, delusions and disorganised speech and behaviour.
  • Negative Symptoms – Refer to symptoms that affect the way one feels about themselves, others and the world around them. This includes reduced emotional expression, lack of motivation or interest in activities that were once enjoyable, difficulty communicating with others and a general feeling of emptiness.
  • Cognitive Symptoms – Refer to symptoms that affect an individual’s ability to think clearly. These can include poor attention span and trouble focusing on tasks at hand.

Diagnosis

Schizophrenia is a serious mental health condition that can cause people to have distorted thoughts, see or hear things that aren’t there and behave in ways that are out of character. It affects around 1% of the population and is more common in men than women.

Most schizophrenia cases are diagnosed between the ages of 16 to 30 after the first psychosis episode. After which, treatment can be started. The doctor will also consider the circumstances surrounding the symptoms and your medical history.

A medical checklist is used to help doctors diagnose the condition. The checklist includes questions about your mental state, such as whether you have trouble making decisions or feel like something is wrong with your mind, and all possible causes (e.g., drug use, genetics).

Causes

Schizophrenia is a brain disorder that affects how you think and feel. It can be hard to diagnose because there are no specific tests. Doctors diagnose schizophrenia based on the symptoms and your medical history.

Research suggests that a combination of genetic and environmental factors may cause schizophrenia, but more research is needed to confirm this theory. There’s also strong evidence that brain structure can help identify people at risk for developing schizophrenia.

How is schizophrenia currently treated?

The current treatments for schizophrenia include antipsychotic drugs (also called neuroleptics), psychological therapies like talking therapy or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and social support from family members, friends and carers.

Antipsychotics such as olanzapine, risperidone and clozapine are usually the first line of treatment for people with schizophrenia who need medication. These medicines block dopamine receptors in the brain, reducing hallucinations or delusions caused by excess dopamine being released into certain brain areas.

Antipsychotics help patients relax so they don’t feel agitated or aggressive all the time. They also reduce anxiety symptoms caused by raised adrenaline levels released into the body during an anxious episode (psychosis).

Unfortunately, these drugs have many side effects. These side effects may make treatment difficult and worsen other comorbid conditions. They may also discourage patients from taking them, leading to the person experiencing more episodes of psychosis in the future.

Why are some schizophrenia patients turning to medical cannabis?

One of the most common treatment methods includes antipsychotic medications. Antipsychotics are used to treat conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and severe depression.

However, these drugs can have serious side effects:

  • weight gain
  • muscle stiffness
  • drowsiness
  • blurred vision
  • shaking and trembling
  • muscle spasms
  • dry mouth

These side effects make it difficult for physicians or caretakers to encourage patients to continue taking their medication. Moreover, some of these medications may not work for patients at all. In fact, they may cause more harm than good by inducing even more symptoms or side effects.

Thus, there’s an increased interest in alternatives that work and do not cause adverse reactions. Many patients who have schizophrenia have found that medical cannabis provides the same or more relief than prescription drugs. According to these anecdotes, cannabis does not come with a lot of side effects.

Additionally, many people who use medical cannabis report that it helps them feel less anxious or paranoid about common situations in their daily life. Those seeking an alternative treatment for schizophrenia should consider medical cannabis. In fact, there is growing research about the potential of cannabis in treating schizophrenia-related symptoms,

Medical cannabis: how and why it works?

Medical cannabis is a novel treatment that’s being tested for its effectiveness in treating schizophrenia. Cannabis is a natural product that contains more than 100 compounds. It has been used for medical purposes for centuries.

The two primary active ingredients (cannabinoids) in cannabis are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). These compounds work together to affect how people feel, think, and behave.

  • THC is the main psychoactive component of cannabis and is the most widely studied.
  • CBD has antipsychotic effects that help to reduce anxiety and paranoia. It may also potentially treat other mental health conditions, such as depression or bipolar disorder.

CBD or THC for schizophrenia?

For schizophrenia, several studies show that CBD may help improve symptoms such as psychosis. THC, on the other hand, can increase anxiety, paranoia, and even schizophrenia symptoms. THC may also trigger the onset of psychosis in people who are genetically predisposed to developing the condition.

CBD works by activating receptors in the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is a system in the body that helps regulate mood, pain perception, and other functions. CBD has been shown to have a range of therapeutic benefits, such as reducing anxiety and depression.

CBD shows promise in treating early-stage psychosis

Portrait of a distressed woman suffering from schizophrenia

As it turns out, CBD is actually effective in treating several psychosis disorders, including schizophrenia. Researchers have found that CBD can help reduce the symptoms of psychosis and anxiety. It doesn’t cause serious side effects like other medications do and has no withdrawal symptoms, so there’s no risk of addiction.

In a study conducted by Johns Hopkins University, researchers found that patients with schizophrenia were less likely to experience psychotic symptoms when taking CBD than those who took a placebo. The researchers concluded that “CBD may represent an effective treatment for psychosis or other mental disorders related to psychosis.”

A 2021 review found that CBD was associated with a mild improvement in symptoms of early-stage psychosis. The cannabinoid shows promise in cases where the condition is treatment-resistant. However, it’s important to note that further research is needed before we can definitively state how effective CBD is in treating schizophrenia.

Another 2006 study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology suggests that CBD can improve outcomes in some patients. Needless to say, there’s still a lot we don’t know about the role of CBD in schizophrenia.

Medical usage of CBD offers a wide range of other health benefits

CBD has been used to treat a wide range of medical conditions, including pain, anxiety and depression. It’s also been used successfully to help people sleep better, control epileptic seizures and reduce nausea caused by chemotherapy treatments for cancer patients.

Cannabidiol has also been found effective in improving cognition and memory function. Some studies have even shown CBD may be effective in lowering blood pressure and reducing inflammation linked to diabetes and arthritis.

Common among the clinical studies involving medical CBD for schizophrenia is the fact that the cannabinoid is well-tolerated even among schizophrenic patients. In fact, one study found that CBD was well-tolerated in doses of up to 1,500 mg per day for six weeks.

Whether you’re interested in using CBD or medical cannabis for your condition, we recommend consulting a doctor before you start taking any remedy. Schedule an online consultation with the doctors at The Medican Cannabis Clinics today to find out whether CBD or medical cannabis may be a good treatment option for you.

Can you use medical CBD with other schizophrenia medications?

CBD is a non-psychoactive compound that has been shown to have therapeutic benefits. Medical CBD for schizophrenia is becoming increasingly popular as research continues to show how effective it can be for treating the disorder’s symptoms.

Some use medical CBD in conjunction with their current medication for schizophrenia, while others use it as an alternative. The choice is up to the patient and the patient’s doctor.

One 2017 study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry suggests that CBD may be used as an adjunctive therapy in schizophrenia. A supplement containing CBD has been shown to improve the outcomes of existing antipsychotic medication. 

It’s important to note that medical CBD may cause drowsiness in some users and may interact with other medications. Patients should consult with their doctor before beginning any new treatment option for schizophrenia symptoms.

Can cannabis worsen schizophrenia symptoms?

Many emotions surround a young female with schizophrenia stock illustration

Cannabis products (e.g., flowers, tinctures, edibles) that contain THC can worsen symptoms of schizophrenia. THC is a psychoactive compound that gives users a feeling of euphoria, which can make psychosis worse.

Recreational cannabis use is also linked to an increased risk of developing schizophrenia. The association may be partly because people with schizophrenia are more likely to use drugs and alcohol than those who do not have mental health issues.

Research on medical cannabis for schizophrenia is still limited, but it’s possible that CBD could help reduce symptoms without increasing the risk of psychosis or addiction. CBD has been used in conjunction with other medications to help reduce the symptoms of schizophrenia. Since medical CBD oil for schizophrenia does not rely on dopamine antagonism, researchers suggested that it can open paths for other classes of treatment for the disorder.

However, studies have shown that CBD may not be as effective as antipsychotics in reducing the severity of hallucinations and delusions associated with this condition. It’s important to discuss any potential changes in mental health conditions with your doctor before beginning any new treatment plan.

Conclusion – Medical CBD and Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder which can be very debilitating. Many people with schizophrenia suffer from multiple symptoms that interfere with their day-to-day activities and impair social interactions. The symptoms of schizophrenia include hallucinations, delusions and disorganised speech. These symptoms can be treated with medication and therapy.

While there’s no cure for schizophrenia, treatment options exist to manage the symptoms associated with it effectively so that people living with this condition can lead fulfilling lives. Medications can work to a certain extent but cause serious side effects.

Medical CBD for schizophrenia is proving to be a safe and effective alternative treatment. However, more research is needed to determine the precise effectiveness of CBD for schizophrenia.

If you’re someone or someone you love is suffering from schizophrenia, then it’s important to learn about CBD and its potential role in treatment. Here at The Medical Cannabis Clinics, we’re dedicated to providing you with the best treatment options. Our medical professionals have been helping patients like you find relief from their symptoms for years – and we can help you too!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How much CBD is needed for schizophrenia?

In one clinical study, physicians administered 40mg initially to patients with treatment-resistant schizophrenia. They then raised the doses to 1280mg daily.

What is the best natural treatment for schizophrenia?

Several complementary treatments can be used alongside traditional medicine. These include vitamin treatment, fish oil supplements, stress management, and even meditation.

How much CBD should I take for psychosis?

While there is no set amount of CBD used for psychosis, patients should start with a low dose (ideally around 40mg). Once the medication is well tolerated, they can increase their dose up to 1280mg daily.

Can CBD get rid of psychosis?

In a 2021 clinical study, researchers found that CBD helped treat psychosis in the early phases of the disorder. However, the study only included a small sample size – meaning that more studies are needed to confirm these findings.

Can CBD be used to treat schizophrenia?

CBD has been shown to help treat schizophrenia in some patients mildly. Though CBD is well-tolerated and does not cause serious side effects, The are still some concerns that it may not be as effective in treating this condition as other medications.

References

https://www.healthline.com/health/cbd-for-schizophrenia

https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/schizophrenia

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0269881106060967

https://www.webmd.com/schizophrenia/features/cbd-oil-schizophrenia

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8343183/

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00213-021-05905-9

https://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/appi.ajp.2017.17030325

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00213-018-4885-9

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7442038/

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