Schizophrenia is defined as “a chronic and severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves.” This is a disorder that is considered to be common, with over 200,000 new case being diagnosed per year. Some symptoms of schizophrenia include audible and visual hallucinations, paranoia and irrational thoughts. Social consequences include strained relationships, inability to engage in activities and isolation. This disorder is not the same a split personality or multiple personality disorders, but is a state of psychosis. Psychotic episodes refer to sharp decline in the individual, resulting in strange behaviors and thinking. There are three types of symptoms: positive (delusional, euphoria), negative (isolation, loss of motivation) and cognitive (poor memory, inability to make decisions). Episode lengths and frequency vary from person to person. Men usually begin to show symptoms in their late teens and early 20s, while women tend to be in their 20s or 30s.
While there are current medications on the market that help to manage schizophrenia, many of them come with unpleasant side effects. CBD (cannabidiol) is a component found in the highest concentrations in the hemp plant. It does not create a “high” or psychoactive effects in users. In therapeutic doses, CBD doesn’t cause any adverse reactions. In fact, CBD can actually neutralize reactions like paranoia or anxiety caused by THC in marijuana or products with a 1:1 ratio of CBD to THC. This is exceptionally important to consider in users who are looking to alleviate these symptoms in the first place.
Some studies link the use of marijuana with the onset of psychotic disorders. THC may cause the expression of more positive and negative symptoms in a sufferer, instead of minimizing them. There are other factors to consider, like a family history and genetics that increase the odds of developing the disorder.
Recent studies are looking towards CBD for it’s antipsychotic properties. A study by Schizophrenia Research, based on self-reporting, revealed that cannabidiol users found positive results and a reduction in their psychotic episodes (4). It is critical for those diagnosed with schizophrenia to manage their symptoms and maintain a stable mental state. When this is achieved, people are able to work, go to school, socialize and engage in normal activities. While long-term, widespread research is needed, the early findings are promising. Current Pharmaceutical Design states that “CBD prevented human experimental psychosis and was effective in open case reports and clinical trials in patients with schizophrenia with a remarkable safety profile. (5)”
The stability achieved in those with schizophrenia is being attributed to the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS works to create homeostasis in the body, or internal balance regardless of stimuli. Cannabinoids, like CBD, are utilized to fuel the ECS in maintaining functions like sleep, balanced mood and cognitive functioning, to name a few. While the direct processes of the ECS on schizophrenia are unknown, it appears that it functions to create balance with mental disorders as well.
There is no known cure for schizophrenia. People with the disorder are capable of living productive, happy and healthy lives with the management of symptoms. CBD can be used in conjunction with other interventions to help create balance and stability. It is important to discuss all available options with a medical professional.