Learn how CBD could help with the negative and cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia. Find research, benefits, and shopping tips for this condition. Can you successfully use cannabis, particularly the non-intoxicating CBD, to treat schizophrenia? Does THC actually cause the condition? Prepare for several mind-blowing facts about CBD, cannabis, and schizophrenia. Scientists are studying CBD oil for schizophrenia and dozens of other health conditions. Here’s what to know if you have schizophrenia and are thinking of trying CBD.
Schizophrenia & CBD Oil: Overview of Research, Benefits, & Best Products
Schizophrenia is a commonly misunderstood disorder that affects nearly 3.5 million Americans. The symptoms are wide-ranging but CBD oil shows potential for offering significant relief. These symptoms can vary between individuals but are broken down into three categories: positive , negative and cognitive .
- Positive symptoms refer to symptoms that would not be present in an individual who did not have schizophrenia.
- Negative symptoms include those which are disruptive to the individual, such as dulled emotions, avoidance of social interactions and self-isolation.
- Cognitive symptoms include struggling to comprehend information, focus or make decisions.
While modern medicine has found ways to treat many of the positive symptoms of schizophrenia, such as the delusions and hallucinations which are markers of the disease, it has not proved effective at treating negative or cognitive symptoms.
In addition, antipsychotic medications come with their own host of additional side effects, which can include drowsiness and dizziness as well as physical impairments like muscle spasms and tremors.
It’s no surprise that many people suffering from schizophrenia are looking to CBD oil as a way to supplement their existing mental health treatment plan.
Benefits of Using CBD Oil for Schizophrenia
In no way will using CBD oil for schizophrenia cure the condition. But, CBD oil could prove to be a beneficial tool in mitigating some of the symptoms caused by the disease and ease some of the side effects of the medications used to control psychosis.
The Cannabis sativa plant is often negatively linked with schizophrenia, with some studies suggesting a causation effect between its use and the development of schizophrenia.
However, not only is there no proof of direct causation, but this belief system also overlooks the many potential benefits of using pure cannabinoid extracts from the cannabis plant, like cannabidiol (CBD) , in the treatment of schizophrenia. It is more likely that any link between schizophrenia and cannabis lies with the THC component.
Cannabis and hemp plants contain hundreds of cannabinoids that work similarly to the endocannabinoids produced by the body and impact the endocannabinoid system . Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a potent cannabinoid, that provides many potential positive benefits without producing cognitive impairment or adding significant negative side effects of its own.
If you’re currently taking medication for schizophrenia and are considering adding CBD oil to the mix, it is crucial that you speak to your doctor first . CBD oil has the potential to interact with antipsychotic medications, and you want to make sure you’re not putting your mental health further at risk. Here’s a chart breaking down some of the more common schizophrenia medications, their potential side effects, and how they could interact with CBD oil.
|Antipsychotic Drugs For Schizophrenia||Some Potential Side Effects of Schizophrenia Medication||Potential Adverse Effects of combining Medication w/ CBD Oil||Potential Benefits of Using CBD Oil|
|Haloperidol||Irregular heartbeat; tardive dyskinesia (involuntary movement); nausea; vomiting; headache; dizziness; drowsiness; insomnia; anxiety; mood changes; skin rash; itching; blurred vision.||Combining Haloperidol with CBD oil can increase side effects: dizziness; drowsiness; confusion. Because haloperidol is metabolised partially via the cytochrome P450 pathway; concurrent use with CBD can be problematic. Speak to your doctor before combining.||CBD oil has been shown to help reduce nausea; migraines; anxiety; insomnia.|
|Chlorpromazine||Dizziness; drowsiness; anxiety; insomnia; weight gain; swelling in hands and feet; blurred vision; dry mouth.||Combining Chlorpromazine with CBD oil can increase side effects: dizziness; drowsiness; confusion. Because chlorpromazine is metabolised partially via the cytochrome P450 pathway; concurrent use with CBD can be problematic. Speak to your doctor before combining.||CBD oil has been shown to help reduce anxiety; insomnia; inflammation.|
|Aripiprazole (Abilify)||Weight gain; blurred vision; dizziness; drowsiness; headache; insomnia; anxiety; drooling.||Combining Aripiprazole with CBD oil can increase side effects: dizziness; drowsiness; confusion. Because Aripiprazole is metabolised partially via the cytochrome P450 pathway; concurrent use with CBD can be problematic.Speak to your doctor before combining.||CBD oil has been shown to help reduce pain; migraines; insomnia; anxiety.|
|Asenapine (Saphris)||Drowsiness; dizziness; numbness or tingling in mouth; constipation; insomnia; stomach upset; anxiety; dry mouth.||Combining Asenapine with CBD oil can increase side effects: dizziness; drowsiness; confusion. Because asenapine is metabolised partially via the cytochrome P450 pathway; concurrent use with CBD can be problematic.Speak to your doctor before combining.||CBD oil has been shown to help reduce insomnia and anxiety.|
|Brexpiprazole (Rexulti)||Drowsiness; dizziness; weight gain; agitation; increased appetite; fatigue; constipation; restlessness; distress.||Combining Brexpiprazole with CBD oil can increase side effects: dizziness; drowsiness; confusion. Because brexpiprazole is metabolised partially via the cytochrome P450 pathway; concurrent use with CBD can be problematic. Speak to your doctor before combining.||CBD oil has been shown to help with anxiety and stress.|
|Lurasidone (Latuda)||Drowsiness; dizziness; nausea; weight gain; insomnia; agitation; inability to stay still.||Combining Lurasidone with CBD oil can increase side effects: dizziness; drowsiness; confusion. Because lurasidone is metabolised partially via the cytochrome P450 pathway; concurrent use with CBD can be problematic. Speak to your doctor before combining.||CBD oil has been shown to help reduce nausea and symptoms of movement disorders.|
|Olanzapine (Zyprexa)||Drowsiness; dizziness; weight gain; headache; shaking or tremors; dry mouth; impaired speech or memory; blurred vision.||Combining Olanzapine with CBD oil can increase the side effects: dizziness; drowsiness; confusion. Because olanzapine is metabolised partially via the cytochrome P450 pathway; concurrent use with CBD can be problematic. Speak to your doctor before combining.||CBD oil has been shown to help with pain and movement disorders.|
|Quetiapine (Seroquel)||Insomnia; constipation; drowsiness; dizziness; dry mouth; weakness; headache; decrease in blood pressure upon standing.||Combining Quetiapine with CBD oil can increase the side effects: dizziness; drowsiness; confusion. Because quetiapine is metabolised partially via the cytochrome P450 pathway; concurrent use with CBD can be problematic. Speak to your doctor before combining.||CBD oil has been shown to help reduce insomnia; pain; migraines.|
|Risperidone (Risperdal)||Headache; dizziness; drowsiness; tremors and twitching; agitation; anxiety; weight gain; dry mouth.||Combining Risperidone with CBD oil can increase the side effects of dizziness; drowsiness; confusion. Because risperidone is metabolised partially via the cytochrome P450 pathway; concurrent use with CBD can be problematic. Speak to your doctor before combining.||CBD oil has been shown to help with pain; inflammation; anxiety; movement disorders.|
|Ziprasidone (Geodon)||Dizziness; drowsiness; nausea; diarrhea; constipation; tremors; rash; new or worsening cough.||Combining Ziprasidone with CBD oil can increase the side effects: dizziness; drowsiness; confusion. Because ziprasidone is metabolised partially via the cytochrome P450 pathway; concurrent use with CBD can be problematic. Speak to your doctor before combining.||CBD oil has been shown to help with nausea and movement disorders.|
While using CBD oil in combination with antipsychotic medications may increase the risk for drowsiness, dizziness, and confusion, it may also relieve medication side effects while easing some of the symptoms associated with schizophrenia. Again, the only way to safely weigh the risks against the benefits is by speaking with your doctor beforehand.
Effectiveness of CBD Oil for Schizophrenia
While the research is far from complete or conclusive, CBD oil has a range of positive implications in the treatment of schizophrenia symptoms.
CBD Oil for the Cognitive Symptoms of Schizophrenia
A comprehensive review by researchers at the University of Wollongong, Australia, analyzed 27 previously conducted studies into the effects of cannabidiol on cognitive function, specifically looking at the potential benefits to schizophrenia patients.
CBD has been found to improve cognitive function in a number of preclinical models of cognitive impairment, including models of neuropsychiatric disorders like schizophrenia. However, due to a lack of clinical trials on humans, the researchers acknowledge it’s too early to definitely say if CBD oil could be a treatment for schizophrenia. But, the preclinical literature on the subject led the researchers to conclude, “given the ability of CBD to restore cognition in multiple studies of impairment, further investigation into its efficacy in schizophrenia is warranted.”
CBD Oil for Treating Negative Symptoms of Schizophrenia
Following the findings of the previously mentioned review, researchers conducted a new study into the effects of CBD on rats who had been infected with polyinosinic-polycytidylic acid, a compound that simulates the effects of schizophrenia.
For three weeks, some of these rats were given a daily dose of CBD, while the control group was not. A number of clinical tests were then conducted to track the rats’ cognition and social interaction.
It was found that CBD restored recognition, working memory, and social behaviors to normal levels. These findings suggest that CBD may be successful in treating the symptoms that are resistant to currently available schizophrenia medications (though take this lightly, as only one rat study provides this evidence). And perhaps most interesting, CBD oil treatments did not impact food intake or body weight like many prescribed antipsychotic medications do.
CBD Oil for the Side Effects of Antipsychotic Medications
The medications used to treat schizophrenia can lead to a wide range of unpleasant side effects. As can be seen in the table above, some of the most common side effects of these medications is nausea, anxiety, headache, and muscle spasms or tremors. CBD oil has been shown to be a potentially effective treatment for all of these symptoms. But the issue here is that taking CBD concurrently with these medications can in itself increase the side effects of schizophrenia because of the cytochrome p450 interaction. Again, consult your doctor and proceed with caution.
CBD Oil for Nausea
CBD reduces the experience of nausea and associated symptoms through its effects on CB1 receptors in the brain, which are linked to the nausea response. Cannabinoids like CBD inhibit the release of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is a compound known to cause nausea when it is present in high amounts. CBD may also reduce nausea through its interaction with serotonin receptor 5-HT1a. It’s believed cannabidiol indirectly activates this receptor, which reduces the amount of serotonin produced and present in the body and ultimately results in an anti-nausea and anti-vomiting response.
CBD Oil for Muscle Spasms or Tremors
Studies on the potential treatment of spastic conditions through CBD oil use have produced promising results. For example, numerous published studies have indicated that CBD oil can aid in controlling the muscle spasms and tremors associated with conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. Studies have found that dopamine is responsible for signaling the start of movement and a drop in dopamine can contribute to a lack of muscle control. CBD is able to increase the amount of dopamine available by acting as an inverse agonist of the G-coupled protein receptor known as GPR6. More dopamine in the brain allows for more muscle control, and ultimately a reduction in tremors. While these studies were conducted on the use of CBD oil for Parkinson’s disease, it stands to reason that the same principles could apply to the tremors and muscle spasms that can result from schizophrenia medications.
CBD Oil for Anxiety
CBD oil is well known for its ability to reduce anxiety. In a small double-blind study performed on human subjects, participants reported lower levels of anxiety after being administered CBD oil. Brain scans performed by the researchers backed up these claims by showing increased cerebral blood flow which is consistent with decreased anxiety. Even the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has weighed in, saying that CBD oil can reduce “behavioral and physiological (e.g., heart rate) measures of stress and anxiety.”
CBD Oil for Pain
Another area in which CBD oil has been found to be effective is in reducing pain. This can be significant given that headaches are a common side effect of antipsychotic medications. Located in the central nervous system, glycine receptors are inhibitory receptors that play a role in the perception of pain. Cannabinoids like CBD have been shown to potentiate these receptors. In other words, CBD increases the effects of these receptors and reduces the experience of pain.
How to Take CBD Oil for Schizophrenia
Whether or not to supplement your existing schizophrenia treatment with CBD oil is a very personal decision, and one that should not be made without first consulting a doctor.
CBD has been known to interact with some medications including certain antibiotics and antidepressants. And because CBD oil may increase the likelihood of some of the side effects of antipsychotic medications, it is important to have medical supervision.
With a range of CBD oil products to choose from, knowing where to start may be one of the biggest hurdles. The brand, concentration, and method of use will largely come down to your own personal preference, which can involve some trial and error before you find the right fit.
For example, you may choose to start with CBD oil drops to figure out your optimal dosage, but then switch to capsules because of the ease of use and consistent dosing. Or, if you’re looking for a delivery method to address symptoms as they surface, CBD vape oil or CBD flower may do the trick.
There is no shortage of options available, so if the first product isn’t right for you, don’t be afraid to experiment a little to find something more suitable. Sometimes a combination of products ends up being ideal. A capsule or edible can offer a consistent dose while a CBD oil tincture or vape oil can provide fast relief for periods of pain, spasticity, or high anxiety.
Again, do not start using CBD oil without first speaking to a doctor. Together you can decide on the best CBD oil for you.
For more information on the different CBD oil delivery formats and how to use them, check out our beginner’s guide for first-time CBD users.
CBD Oil Dosage for Schizophrenia
The severity and symptoms of schizophrenia will vary between individuals. As such, it is impossible to give a single universal dosage of CBD oil that will work for all. It is always best to follow the recommended serving size on the information sheet included with your CBD oil product, but as a very general guide, we at CBD Oil Review have analyzed hundreds of products and come up with a standard serving suggestion:
The CBD Oil Review Serving Standard is 25 mg of CBD, taken twice daily
If you are not getting results from this amount, we recommend increasing the dose by 25 mg every 3 to 4 weeks until you find relief.
For more information on dosages and some useful tips for getting it right, check out our guide here or speak to a naturopathic doctor, who will be able to provide you with CBD recommendations that are specific to your schizophrenia symptoms.
The Best CBD Oils for Schizophrenia
If you’re ready to try CBD oil to help with schizophrenia, it is important to buy a quality product.
There is no single CBD product or brand that is best for schizophrenia, but there are some ways you can narrow down your selections to ensure that you get the best CBD oil for your money and needs.
- Read the label. It is always important to know and understand what is in your CBD oil. Federal guidelines say that in order to be legal, CBD oil must contain 0.3% or less THC. If you live in a state with legal access to recreational and medicinal cannabis, it may be possible to buy a product that contains higher levels of THC. Be sure that you are making a purchase that not only fits within your state’s cannabis laws but one that also suits your needs. A high THC content is not always desirable, and could potentially exacerbate the hallucinatory symptoms of schizophrenia .
- Look at the Certificate of Analysis. Reputable brands will have their extracts lab tested and post the results in a Certificate of Analysis (COA). Reading the COA will allow you to verify both the THC and CBD concentrations, as well as check for any harmful chemicals that could be in the final product. Because the CBD oil industry is currently unregulated, checking the Certificate of Analysis is essential if you wish to avoid dishonest brands.
- Check the ingredients. Look for a product that has been sourced from organically grown hemp to eliminate the risk of ingesting pesticides and herbicides. Also, most CBD oils do not require a large number of ingredients. At the very least, they will include CBD and a carrier liquid like MCT oil or hemp seed oil. Some products will include terpenes, fatty acids, and flavonoids from the whole plant while others will include natural flavor additives like cinnamon, orange, or peppermint essential oils. Avoid products that contain artificial flavors and additives.
While the research is still very early, CBD oil is showing great potential for the treatment of a wide range of symptoms associated with schizophrenia. As the laws change and research expands, a clearer picture of its efficacy will form. Until then, if you are considering using CBD oil for schizophrenia, be sure to talk to your doctor.
If you liked this article, you may also enjoy:
- Ashleigh L Osborne et al. (2016) A systematic review of the effect of cannabidiol on cognitive function: Relevance to schizophrenia – National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27884751/
- Ashleigh L Osborne et al. (2017) Improved Social Interaction, Recognition and Working Memory with Cannabidiol Treatment in a Prenatal Infection (poly I:C) Rat Model – National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28230072/
- Linda A Parker et al. Regulation of nausea and vomiting by cannabinoids – National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3165951/
- EM Rock et al. Cannabidiol, a non-psychotropic component of cannabis, attenuates vomiting and nausea-like behaviour via indirect agonism of 5-HT1A somatodendritic autoreceptors in the dorsal raphe nucleus – National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3423241/
- Gurudas Khilnani et al. Inverse agonism and its therapeutic significance – National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3195115/
- Alyssa S Laun et al. (2017) GPR3 and GPR6, novel molecular targets for cannabidiol – National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28571738/
- Nora D. Volkow (2015) The Biology and Potential Therapeutic Effects of Cannabidiol – National Institute on Drug Abuse https://archives.drugabuse.gov/testimonies/2015/biology-potential-therapeutic-effects-cannabidiol
- Wei Xiong et al. Cannabinoids suppress inflammatory and neuropathic pain by targeting α3 glycine receptors – National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3371734/
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CBD for Schizophrenia: Can Hemp Oil Help with Schizoaffective Disorder?
Although cannabis has got a bad rap when it comes to psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia, the latest research findings indicate that the plant has been largely misunderstood. Studies suggest CBD may actually offset the development of schizophrenia and curb the episodes of psychosis. Better yet, it appears that the other major cannabinoid, THC, may not necessarily trigger the condition — at least not as a direct cause.
Today we’ll focus on the potential CBD treatment for schizophrenia. We’ll cover the recent studies on this subject, explain the mechanism of action, and debunk a few myths about cannabis and mental health.
Using CBD for Schizophrenia: Does It Make Sense?
Cannabis is a complex plant with 115 identified cannabinoids. Depending on the chemotype, cannabis strains may be THC-dominant and CBD-dominant.
Marijuana is known for significant amounts of THC, while hemp boasts higher concentrations of CBD and only traces of the intoxicating cannabinoid.
There are also terpenes, which influence the effect profile of each strain.
The majority of CBD oils available for sale are made from hemp, so their effects revolve around the benefits of CBD supported by other compounds in the plan. A growing body of scientific evidence suggests CBD may relieve anxiety, inflammation and pain, sleep disturbances, and balance mood.
The FDA has recently approved the first cannabis plant-derived medication, Epidiolex. It contains pure CBD and is recommended for treatment-resistant seizures. However, doctors may prescribe Epidiolex off-label for other conditions, such as schizophrenia.
What to Know About CBD and Schizophrenia?
There is a clear link between cannabis use and psychosis, as noted by epidemiological studies. However, a higher risk of schizophrenia has been associated with strains that have high THC content, and studies have notoriously mentioned a dose-response relationship for the risk of schizophrenia in cannabis users. This isn’t the case for high-CBD strains.
THC produces acute psychotic-like symptoms in healthy individuals after a certain dosage threshold is breached — but CBD decreases the THC-induced psychosis and cognitive impairment.
Patients with schizophrenia suffer from cognitive deficits — they affect up to 85% of the sufferers, so the potential positive effects of CBD on cognition have critical importance.
Below we shed more light on how CBD may help with schizophrenia.
Antipsychotic Properties of CBD
A case study published by Zuardi and colleagues found that CBD may successfully treat schizophrenia. The authors tested a dose of CBD up to 1500 mg daily for 4 weeks, which improved the acute psychotic symptoms (1).
Findings from a 2006 study that analyzed the efficacy of CBD as monotherapy for treatment-resistant schizophrenia in three individuals show that only one patient responded positively to the treatment, but the dosage might’ve been inadequate (2). A later study on the benefits of CBD for schizophrenia tested flexible doses up to 400 mg daily on 6 patients with Parkinson’s disease, finding improvement of psychotic symptoms in all participants over the course of 4 weeks.
Since then, CBD has been investigated for its antipsychotic properties in three clinical studies with contradictory results.
For example, a 2012 double-blind randomized controlled trial on the therapeutic effects of CBD showed that the cannabinoid was as effective as amisulpride, a common antipsychotic drug, in treating the symptoms of schizophrenia. On top of that, CBD had fewer side effects; it caused no weight gain and resulted in less extrapyramidal symptoms (4).
CBD was also tested as an adjunctive medication in the treatment of acute psychosis in people with schizophrenia and non-affective psychotic disorders. After 6 weeks of taking 1000 mg of CBD daily, the CBD group showed greater improvement of positive psychotic symptoms compared to the placebo group. At the end of their therapy, more patients in the CBD group were evaluated as “improved” on the CGI-I scale compared with the controls. Patients who took CBD also showed trend-level improvements in their cognitive performance and motor speed (5).
A similar 2018 study investigated the therapeutic effects of 600 mg CBD daily — divided into two doses — in comparison with placebo in a 6-week double-blind placebo-controlled randomized clinical trial. However, the lower dose didn’t have a significant impact on the psychotic symptoms and cognitive performance of the participants compared to the placebo group (6).
How Does CBD Work for Schizophrenia?
Despite being supported by several epidemiological and clinical studies, the mechanism of action behind the antipsychotic properties of CBD remains unknown. Unlike other antipsychotics, CBD doesn’t directly affect dopaminergic neurons. It also doesn’t bind to cannabinoid receptors like THC.
However, CBD does indirectly increase the CSF levels of anandamide, one of the main endocannabinoids, by blocking its metabolizing enzyme, fatty acid amine hydrolase (FAAH). Interestingly, anandamide levels show a negative correlation with the severity of psychotic symptoms, whereas increased levels of anandamide have been found to improve them clinically after a CBD treatment.
This may hint to CBD as the potential mediator in the management of psychosis through the aforementioned boost of the endogenous levels of anandamide. However, further research is needed to confirm this theory.
Over the past few decades, medical researchers have been exploring the endocannabinoid system as the potential therapeutic target for mental disorders (7). The current pharmacological treatment for schizophrenia is only partially effective and doesn’t tackle the negative symptoms. This has led scientists to search for new pharmacological targets — and the findings from the ECS studies are very promising.
However, there’s a discrepancy in clinical results regarding CBD’s efficacy in treating schizophrenia and psychotic episodes. They could stem from different doses of CBD, stages of psychosis, and heterogeneity of the condition.
Risk and Side Effects: Can CBD Cause Psychosis?
There’s currently no evidence that CBD can cause psychosis. In order to do that, the cannabinoid would have to induce intoxication, elevating anxiety, and paranoia in the dose-response pattern. CBD has been repeatedly shown to reduce anxiety, help with the symptoms of PTSD, addiction, and improve people’s response to stress. CBD has a balancing effect on the nervous system, reducing the hyperactivity and increasing the hypoactivity of neurotransmitters when needed.
CBD is a safe substance. Studies have tested doses as high as 1,500 mg daily without dangerous side effects. That being said, there are a few mild reactions you may experience when you take too much CBD at a time:
- Changes in appetite
- Dry mouth
There’s also a risk of CBD-drug interactions, so make sure to consult your doctor prior to buying CBD oil if you want to avoid them.
The relationship between cannabis use and schizophrenia refers to how THC affects the brain.
But are you sure you have been taught the truth? Let’s take a brief look at the effects of THC on people predisposed to schizophrenia.
Does THC Cause Schizophrenia?
THC is an anti-inflammatory compound with antidepressant-like properties. In low and moderate doses, it also has a relaxing effect on top of inducing an altered state of mind, such as euphoric mood, giggles, and tranquility. However, doses of THC that score higher than your tolerance may aggravate anxiety and trigger bouts of paranoia, especially in those who are sensitive.
Studies conducted in the past have shown a correlation between cannabis use and a faster onset of schizophrenia in people with a family history of the condition. However, the conclusion might have been too hasty, as the latest research shows.
A study performed by Harvard University has analyzed all contributing factors besides cannabis use, pointing to the hereditary burden as the main trigger of schizophrenia in cannabis users. According to the research team, cannabis can only spur the onset of schizophrenia, but it’s not a trigger per se.
In other words, if a person is predestined to have schizophrenia, they will develop it sooner or later.
According to Dr. Musa Sami, a researcher and psychiatrist from King’s College in London increased cannabis use would need to positively correlate with the severity of psychosis, which hasn’t been proven by any study to this day.
Finally, Italian scientists from the University of Calgary have recently tested whether cannabis use will further harm the brain structure of rats that were prenatally exposed to an inflammatory agent that disrupts dopamine signaling and causes behavioral symptoms of schizophrenia. To their surprise, exposure to THC during adolescence seemed to protect the rats’ brains. The authors of the study hypothesized that THC’s anti-inflammatory effects were responsible for offsetting schizophrenia (8).
How Much CBD to Take for Schizophrenia?
The studies we’ve covered above have tested how pure CBD affects the mental health of the participants. However, most people use full-spectrum CBD products, where CBD is only one of over 400 compounds. These compounds influence the way CBD affects the body and brain, so doses may vary between people. Whole-plant extracts require a lower dose than CBD isolates, for which most studies have used a daily dose of 600 to 1,000 milligrams.
If you’re using a full-spectrum or broad-spectrum CBD oil, it’s best to start with a low dose, say, 15 mg once or twice a day with food. If you don’t feel a difference in your symptoms after one week, increase by 10–15 mg and reassess the effects. Once you’ve found your optimal dosage, you can stick to it — there’s no risk of increasing your tolerance to CBD over time.
Do Your Research Before Buying CBD for Schizophrenia
The CBD market is regulated due to the current classification of hemp-derived products. As health supplements, CBD extracts aren’t subject to any standardization when it comes to quality and labeling. Although the market has positively evolved over the years, there are still many fly-by-night vendors churning out poor quality products with less CBD than advertised. Some of them may contain more than 0.3% THC; others may be contaminated with pesticides, solvent residue, and other impurities.
For this reason, you should always check how the company grows, tests, and processes its CBD products.
The best source of CBD is organically grown hemp. Hemp plants are dynamic bio accumulators, so they easily absorb everything from the environment they grow in. Organic farming ensures that you only get the good substances in the source material.
Another important factor on your checklist should be the extraction method. Premium-quality CBD oils are extracted using pressurized CO2; this method produces pure extracts with consistent potency throughout the batches. It doesn’t use additional heat or solvents, so you’re getting a product with a complete cannabinoid profile.
Last but not least, look for certificates of analysis or COA. This shows that each batch is tested by a third-party laboratory. Independent laboratories analyze the potency of the product and look for common contaminants, such as heavy metals, pesticides, or solvent residue.
Summarizing the use of CBD for Schizophrenia
CBD can be used to manage schizophrenia thanks to its therapeutic effects on psychotic symptoms. It may also have a role in preventing or treating cannabis-induced psychosis in vulnerable individuals who consume high-THC strains.
High CBD content may positively affect our mental health — not only by curbing psychosis but also by reducing anxiety and improving the body’s response to stress. Studies investigating the efficacy of CBD in mental disorders have found that the cannabinoid has a calming effect on the nervous system but without the dangerous side effects of commonly prescribed antipsychotic medications.
Clinical trials on CBD and schizophrenia have brought mixed results, most likely due to the discrepancy in dosages. If you’re considering taking CBD oil to improve the symptoms of your condition, make sure to consult a holistic psychiatrist who will have a good understanding of CBD and cannabis in general. Doing so will help you determine the effective dosage and avoid negative CBD-drug interactions.
- Zuardi, A W et al. “Antipsychotic effect of cannabidiol.” The Journal of clinical psychiatry vol. 56,10 (1995): 485-6.
- Zuardi, Antonio Waldo et al. “Cannabidiol monotherapy for treatment-resistant schizophrenia.” Journal of psychopharmacology (Oxford, England) vol. 20,5 (2006): 683-6. doi:10.1177/0269881106060967
- Zuardi, Antonio Waldo et al. Op. Cit.
- Leweke, F M et al. “Cannabidiol enhances anandamide signaling and alleviates psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia.” Translational psychiatry vol. 2,3 e94. 20 Mar. 2012, doi:10.1038/tp.2012.15
- McGuire, Philip et al. “Cannabidiol (CBD) as an Adjunctive Therapy in Schizophrenia: A Multicenter Randomized Controlled Trial.” The American journal of psychiatry vol. 175,3 (2018): 225-231. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2017.17030325
- Boggs, Douglas L et al. “The effects of cannabidiol (CBD) on cognition and symptoms in outpatients with chronic schizophrenia a randomized placebo-controlled trial.” Psychopharmacology vol. 235,7 (2018): 1923-1932. doi:10.1007/s00213-018-4885-9
- Leweke, F Markus et al. “Role of the Endocannabinoid System in the Pathophysiology of Schizophrenia: Implications for Pharmacological Intervention.” CNS drugs vol. 32,7 (2018): 605-619. doi:10.1007/s40263-018-0539-z
- Lecca, Salvatore et al. “Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol During Adolescence Attenuates Disruption of Dopamine Function Induced in Rats by Maternal Immune Activation.” Frontiers in behavioral neuroscience vol. 13 202. 6 Sep. 2019, doi:10.3389/fnbeh.2019.00202
Livvy is a registered nurse (RN) and board-certified nurse midwife (CNM) in the state of New Jersey. After giving birth to her newborn daughter, Livvy stepped down from her full-time position at the Children’s Hospital of New Jersey. This gave her the opportunity to spend more time writing articles on all topics related to pregnancy and prenatal care.
Does CBD Oil Help With Schizophrenia?
Many people say CBD helps them manage health issues like pain, anxiety, sleep trouble, and PTSD. CBD is short for cannabidiol, a natural compound in cannabis (also known as marijuana) and hemp plants. It has the same chemical makeup as cannabis but doesn’t cause a high.
In 2018, the FDA approved a form of CBD to treat seizures in children. Scientists are also studying CBD oil — the most concentrated form — for dozens of other health conditions, including schizophrenia.
What the Experts Say
Joseph Pierre, MD, a psychiatrist and professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, says CBD’s potential role in schizophrenia treatment starts with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound in cannabis that causes a high. THC can cause psychotic symptoms in some people, he says. And long-time cannabis users, especially those who start when they’re young, may be more likely to get a disorder like schizophrenia.
“Since CBD opposes some of the effects of THC in the brain, it makes sense it could be useful in treating psychotic disorders,” Pierre says. “There’s also some evidence that CBD has properties similar to antipsychotic drugs.”
But Pierre says people with schizophrenia shouldn’t try CBD on their own. The risks and benefits aren’t clear, and products sold without a prescription don’t always contain what they claim.
He also notes that the FDA doesn’t regulate CBD products.
“We have many FDA-approved medications from plant sources,” Pierre says. “For example, the heart medication digoxin is derived from the foxglove plant. But if someone needs digoxin, I wouldn’t recommend they go pick some foxglove, bake it into a brownie, and eat it.”
Peter Bongiorno, ND, a naturopath and acupuncturist in New York, recommends CBD for some people as part of an approach that includes lifestyle changes, balanced hormones, and lower levels of inflammation. He urges those who take other medicines or who have mental health conditions to “work with someone who has experience with CBD.”
What to Know About CBD and Schizophrenia
If you have schizophrenia but antipsychotic medications don’t work for you or have serious side effects, you might be tempted to give CBD oil a try. But there are some important things to keep in mind.
Because of its link to schizophrenia or psychotic episodes, THC is strictly off-limits if you have schizophrenia or if it runs in your family. So it’s crucial to know what you’re getting. That’s not easy, because the market is flooded with products. Many don’t contain what the label claims, and the terms may be confusing.
- Full-spectrum CBD oil comes from the whole hemp plant. It contains all the compounds called cannabinoids, including traces of THC (0.3% or less). It’s a small amount, but you should still skip this one.
- Broad-spectrum CBD oil doesn’t contain THC but has all the other cannabinoids. Bongiorno says they may help CBD work better.
- Pure CBD oil means 100% CBD. “Pure CBD products are supposed to only have CBD, but unfortunately, even those sold in dispensaries sometimes contain THC or don’t contain any CBD at all,” Pierre says.
- Hempseed oil is tricky. To avoid legal trouble, some manufacturers label CBD oil as hemp oil. Hempseed oil is made from hemp seeds and contains no CBD.
Do your research
Find out how the company grows, tests, and processes its CBD products.
- Check the certificate of analysis, or COA. This shows that each batch is tested by an independent lab. It should say exactly what’s in the product and what isn’t, like toxic metals and pesticides. You can find the CoA online, by email, or with the product. If not, steer clear.
- Ask about sources. The best CBD usually comes from organic plants grown on small farms in the U.S. and Canada.
How much to take
“If you’re going to use CBD for mental health, ask your practitioner for a high-quality version,” Bongiorno says. The amount you take can vary. “The studies tend to use pure CBD, which requires a higher dose. I use CBD with other cannabinoids at lower doses.”
CBD is normally very safe but can have side effects in some people. The most common are dry mouth, feeling dizzy or irritable, anxiety, diarrhea, and nausea. There’s a chance of liver damage at very high doses.
CBD can affect how your body handles other medicines. This means you may have higher or lower amounts in your blood than you should. Penn State University researchers found 60 drugs that interact with CBD or cannabis. Be extra careful if you take blood thinners, heart medicine, or drugs that weaken your immune system after transplant surgery. Pierre says that even some psychiatric medicines, including antipsychotics, could interact with CBD. You should ask your doctor if CBD is safe to use.
Gallup.com: “14% of Americans Say They Use CBD Products.”
Joseph Pierre, MD, acting chief of Community Care Systems at the VA West Los Angeles Healthcare Center and clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, UCLA.
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: “Cannabis (Marijuana) and Cannabinoids: What You Need to Know.”
Kendra Mark, founder 2Rise Naturals.
Peter Bongiorno, ND, naturopath and acupuncturist, InnerSource Natural Health and Acupuncture, New York City and Long Island.
Epidiolex.com: “Epidiolex: A treatment innovation.”
Journal of Clinical Medicine Research: “Dosage, Efficacy and Safety of Cannabidiol Administration in Adults: A Systematic Review of Human Trials.”
Pennsylvania State University, College of Medicine, Department of Pharmacology: “NTI Meds to be Closely Monitored when Co-administered with Cannabinoids.”