Cannabis Extract Regulates Brain Function In Psychosis Sufferers

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				REUTERS

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CBD is the same cannabis compound that has also shown benefits in epilepsy, leading in June to the first USA approval of a cannabis-based drug, a purified form of CBD from GW Pharmaceuticals.

Talking about the study and the experiments, Bhattacharyya informed, "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".

Researchers from King's College London found cannabidiol (CBD), one of the major chemical components of the marijuana plant, works separately to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which the part that gives users a "high".

Psychosis, a excessive mental disorder characterized by an absence of grip on fact, can contain unsettling hallucinations and delusions.

Of those, 33 were experiencing "distressing psychotic systems" but hadn't yet received a diagnosis of psychosis from a doctor. A single dose of cannabidiol was given to 16 of them, while the remaining 17 received an identical-looking placebo.


"THC can be thought of as mimicking some of the effects of psychosis, while cannabidiol has broadly opposite neurological and behavioural effects", says a King's College release. Researchers then observed the participants' brain activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans while administering a verbal learning task. However, after a 600-milligram dose of CBD, that brain activity was reduced to normal levels. "But this shows us that CBD at least has an effect on abnormal brain activity that is consistent with it being an antipsychotic".

"We knew from previous studies that CBD had antipsychotic effects, but we didn't know how it worked", lead author Dr Sagnik Bhattacharyya explained to The Guardian. "Our results have started unraveling the brain mechanisms of a new drug that works in a completely different way to traditional anti-psychotics".

For the final conclusion, the team compared the results in these groups with a group of 19 participants who had not experienced psychosis episodes. "As these regions are critical to the pathophysiology of psychosis, the influence of cannabidiol at these sites could underlie its therapeutic effects on psychotic symptoms". The trial is supported by a £1.85 million grant from an NIHR and MRC partnership. Around 15,000 people in Britain present with early symptoms of psychosis and could benefit from this novel treatment.

"One of the main advantages of cannabidiol is that it is safe and seems to be very well tolerated, making it, in some ways, an ideal treatment", Bhattacharyya said. If successful, cannabidiol could one day be used as an antipsychotic treatment.

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