CBD supplements are being used for a lot of things these days. You may have heard from friends and family how their aches and pains were cured, or how they are sleeping better, or losing weight and living healthier lives. For those living with psychotic and mental disorders, like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, anything that can give you a sense of normalcy may be worth looking into.
CBD may be able to help you there, too. But before you ask, “Can I stop my antipsychotics and start taking CBD instead?”, we need to first see if CBD does indeed act as an antipsychotic.
Please note that if you do have a mental illness, never make changes to your current regimen without the approval of a medical professional.
Now, to answer your question about CBD as an antipsychotic:
What Is CBD?
CBD oil is also referred to as cannabis oil, which is a concentrated extract from hemp, a strain of cannabis sativa. Cannabidiol (CBD) is drawn from the plant and put into a caster oil, which can then be used to make a number of products. Cannabis has hundreds of chemicals just like cannabidiol, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. Unlike THC, CBD cannot get you high. It can, however, affect the body in other ways.
How Does CBD Work?
In order to understand how CBD can affect the mind and complement antipsychotic medications or even wean you off them, we need to first look at how CBD works within the body.
CBD acts as a modulator within the endocannabinoid system, or ECS. The endocannabinoid system is part of human biology and has a full-body network of receptors that bind with both phytocannabinoids (like hemp-derived CBD) and endocannabinoids. The ECS is integral in homeostasis and regulates things like pain, sleep, motor control, memory, energy, and even neural development.
For example, CBD may block certain neurotransmitter receptors in the brain, like those for serotonin and GABA, that affect mental disorders, like schizophrenia.
While the exact mechanism for how CBD can help with psychotic disorders still needs a lot of research, the antipsychotic effects are undeniable. Also, unlike many antipsychotic medications, cannabidiol does not affect the dopaminergic neurons. In several reports, CBD also increases anandamide (which negatively correlates with psychotic symptoms), suggesting that CBD may contribute to the softening of psychosis that way.
Does CBD Have Antipsychotic Effects?
Aside from finding out that CBD can affect the endocannabinoid system and even help regulate neurotransmitters associated with psychotic disorders, there has been ongoing research looking at how CBD can provide relief for a vast number of medical and mental illnesses.
In 2018, CBD was used as a complementary therapy for those with schizophrenia. Before this groundbreaking study, many test subjects were animals or the group was too small for conclusive results. However, in the 2018 double-blind study with randomized controls, 88 participants either received a placebo or 1000 mg of CBD per day alongside existing treatments for a period of 6 weeks .
At the end, the participants were assessed. It was found that those with schizophrenia, shizoaffective disorder, delusional disorders, and schiophreniform disorders all had a slight improvement in their symptoms, meaning that the day-to-day influence of their disorders was less debilitating. The participants were also rated as slightly improved by the clinicians.
Although the change was modest at best, the study did provide evidence for how useful CBD can be to those on antipsychotic drugs.
An earlier study in 2012 was also double-blind and randomized. Participants were given 600-800 mg CBD a day for 4 weeks or amisulphride . The results found that CBD was just as effective in treating psychotic symptoms in individuals with schizophrenia as the antipsychotic drug. CBD also had fewer side effects.
Limitations of Research
What you will notice is that much of the reason already completed or currently underway is not looking at CBD as a core treatment for psychotic disorders. In other words, no one knows for sure yet whether CBD can replace antipsychotic medications.
Therefore, if you are currently on antipsychotic medication, it is wise to discuss options with your GP or another medical professional. They may be able to give you further insight.
As with any mental illness, there are few cures and fewer miracles with schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders. However, if you can find something to help you live a happier, more productive life, then you would probably be tempted to try it. While CBD’s influence on psychotic disorders is still being researched, there is evidence from scientific studies that states it can lessen the effects of such conditions.
While you may not be able to quit antipsychotic drugs entirely, CBD may be able to provide you with more freedom to live the life you want.
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