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Cannabidiol (CBD) is a chemical compound derived from cannabis plants. While commonly associated with recreational drug use, CBD is actually present in a wide variety of cannabis strains, including hemp, while only the marijuana plant contains the high levels of THC needed to create the psychoactive effect associated with its usage. This means that CBD oil can be extracted from hemp plants in a pure form with almost no trace of THC present.
Despite this, the facts around CBD oil remain confusing – and while it’s now Federally legal when derived from the hemp plant, it can still be hard to know where to buy it and what form to buy it in. Its legal history has also slowed research efforts, but with new attitudes towards CBD in recent years, we’ve seen more and more studies into its potential benefits, including hopeful research into how it could help sufferers of schizophrenia.
Current Symptom Management of Schizophrenia
Tens of millions of people worldwide suffer from schizophrenia. As a disorder with no known cure, full recovery is rare. Around half of all schizophrenics will experience lifelong symptoms that require constant treatment. The most common and effective method of symptom relief comes in the form of antipsychotic medication.
However, the drugs commonly used to treat schizophrenia come with long lists of side-effects.1 Most often this manifests in increased levels of stress, weight gain, and other relatively minor but still detrimental effects. The safer drugs are also more prone to failure, at which point something stronger must be administered.
The more potent antipsychotics also come with a greater risk of harmful side-effects, including the rare but serious threat of heart attack, stroke, and seizure. The increased prevalence of unwanted side-effects also leads to more instances of patients going off their medication. For serious sufferers with treatment-resistant schizophrenia, a combination of drugs may be required, further compounding risk factors.
Can Schizophrenics benefit from CBD
Many studies have been done on whether sufferers of schizophrenia and similar disorders could find relief from the use of CBD. The primary point of interest is in the endocannabinoid system, which is involved in regulating a number of biological processes, including memory, stress, and the autonomic nervous system. Preliminary research suggests CBD usage may contribute to the repair and maintenance of this system, which in turn could offer symptom relief for suffers from schizophrenia.
This is significant because, if this method of symptom relief proves safe and effective, endocannabinoid system maintenance potentially represents a whole new mechanism for helping sufferers of schizophrenia, particularly those who don’t respond to antipsychotics or are especially prone to their harmful side-effects.
A widely-cited 2012 study comparing the administration of CBD to a strong antipsychotic drug suggests a healthy endocannabinoid system may provide positive results in symptom relief for schizophrenics, with a significant reduction in the prevalence of side-effects compared to the antipsychotic in question.2 The study found a correlation between CBD administration and heightened levels of anandamide – an endocannabinoid neurotransmitter – and that this heightened anandamide level was “significantly associated with clinical improvement.” This highly encouraging result has inspired more research into the link between endocannabinoid system health and schizophrenia, including further studies into CBD as a method of boosting endocannabinoid function.
We’re learning more every year about the importance of the endocannabinoid system, particularly with regard to ways in which its regulation can lead to improvements in both physical and mental health. CBD oil offers a potential resource for those whose endocannabinoid system is in need of repair. For patients dealing with schizophrenia, this return to endocannabinoid balance could mean smoother, side-effect free relief, and renewed hope for those with an exceptionally high tolerance for currently available drugs.
- Schizophrenia: Overview and Treatment Options
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