Before the legalization of cannabis in many states, there was a huge debate on whether or not it had a link with schizophrenia.
Many people feared that symptoms such as psychosis would be increased when using cannabis. However, other people said the opposite, and mental illness symptoms decreased. So why is this? Well, cannabis has many different strains with different cannabinoid profiles that can produce different effects.
The main two cannabinoids are THC and CBD. CBD has now taken the cannabis market by storm, and many people are reporting the amazing benefits through products like CBD oil.
Research has shown that THC in high doses can increase the risk of psychosis. But can CBD cause psychosis?
That's the question we're going to answer today.
What Will I Find Out?
What is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a group of conditions that affects brain function. It becomes so impaired that those who suffer from this, lose touch with reality. 7.5 million adults in the United States alone are affected by this. It usually starts in the early '20s for men and a little later for women.
Treatments for schizophrenia don't do much to help with the negative symptoms. Those with the condition still suffer from feeling flat emotionally, struggle to feel pleasure, and it affects their social life.
Cannabis, on the other hand, may be beneficial for treating these symptoms. But first, let's dive deeper into the life of someone who suffers from this condition.
The brain of the Schizophrenic person
When it comes to psychosis, this isn't the only feature of schizophrenia. It's a little more complexed than that.
Schizophrenia is so complexed that a range of symptoms is categorized into two groups. One is a positive group, and the other is negative.
Positive symptoms include:
- Delusions & hallucinations
- Losing touch with reality
- Disorganized speech
These symptoms are treated with anti-psychotic medications. However, they don't address the negative symptoms. These adverse symptoms include:
- Flat emotion state
- Lack of pleasure
- Lack of motivation
- Social withdrawal
- Impaired attention, memory, and problem-solving
The Cannabis plant
The cannabis plant has many varieties with different cannabinoids and terpenes. When you look at it on a molecular level, various chemicals impact the body in different ways.
Everyone has something called an Endocannabinoid System (ECS). This ECS has cannabinoid receptors that are activated when we consume cannabis. As cannabis has cannabinoids, they will interact with these receptors that provide different effects.
The two primary cannabinoids are THC and CBD. There are also hundreds of other cannabinoids, but they usually come in smaller amounts.
Terpenes also play a massive role in the effects the user will feel. You could take two different strains of cannabis that both have similar cannabinoid profiles but produce entirely different outcomes. This is due to terpenes.
THC produces the psychoactive high that most people are familiar with. There are positives and negatives when it comes to this molecule.
The positives are:
- Increasing appetite
- Reducing muscle spasms
- Eliminating nausea
- Treating insomnia
However, in larger amounts, it also has negative symptoms such as:
- Increased anxiety and paranoia
- Increased risk of psychosis
- Dizziness and confusion
- Higher chance of cannabis addiction/dependence
As you can already see, higher amounts of THC wouldn't be beneficial for someone with schizophrenia.
If you watch this lecture, you will discover that even if you don't have schizophrenia, there is still a chance of you getting drug-induced psychosis. There have been cases of this from people abusing high THC strains of marijuana.
There is also anecdotal evidence from many people who have experienced psychosis due to high THC strains of cannabis.
The girl in this video experienced psychosis after smoking weed almost every day for a year.
Another guy from London explains his story of smoking marijuana and having a psychotic episode in public.
CBD is the second most abundant cannabinoid in cannabis that most people don't know about. They are generally in hemp strains of cannabis or high CBD strains of marijuana.
These strains are generally lower in THC and higher in CBD. This cannabinoid profile makes it more suitable for those who don't want to experience the adverse side effects of THC.
CBD alone carries little to no side effects at all, even in extremely high doses. Keep in mind that CBD is non-psychoactive at all. CBD alone will not get you high, no matter how much you take.
The positive effects of CBD include:
- Reduced anxiety and depression
- Helps with insomnia and sleep conditions
- Reduces chronic pain and inflammation
Negative effects of CBD:
- May kill the high from THC
Hemp Vs. Marijuana
Hemp and marijuana both come from the cannabis plant. They are strain types of cannabis.
Hemp strains have less than 0.3% THC by law and have high amounts of CBD. Anything more than 0.3% THC, it's described as marijuana.
Marijuana is not legal globally, whereas CBD products are legal almost everywhere, including all 50 states. This is as long as it doesn't contain more than 0.3% THC.
How likely is a cannabis user to experience psychosis
The video above shows lab-tested street cannabis.
In the UK, the recreational use of cannabis is illegal. So this means that if people want to smoke cannabis, they are getting it from street dealers. This puts the user at risk because they have no idea what they're getting. The term "Skunk" mentioned in the video, is the UK's description of high potency cannabis, meaning high THC.
There have been many reported cases of drug-induced psychosis because 99% of the time, street dealers have Skunk. A lot of people in the UK are using street cannabis to treat different symptoms, but they can only get ahold of Skunk.
If you compare it to other countries like Canada or the United States, all cannabis products are regulated and lab-tested. So this makes it safer for consumers to be aware of high THC strains.
Can CBD cause psychosis?
Here you can discover research about CBD and psychosis more in-depth.
CBD and Schizophrenia research
Research shows that there is an association between heavy cannabis use and risk of schizophrenia and psychotic symptoms. It's important to point out that this evidence relates mostly to strains that are high in THC, while the use of cannabis strains that are high in CBD has been associated with fewer psychotic symptoms.
Evidence also suggests that there's a relationship between THC and acute psychotic symptoms. Several studies found that while THC resulted in acute psychotic symptoms in healthy participants, individuals who were pre-treated with CBD experienced fewer psychotic symptoms and cognitive impairments after receiving THC. This suggests that CBD can potentially have positive effects on cognition in individuals with schizophrenia who often suffer from cognitive deficits that rarely respond to pharmacological treatments.
CBD and psychosis
The effects of CBD on psychosis were investigated in a study where researchers used CBD as a treatment for acute psychosis. For six weeks, participants received either 1000 mg of CBD daily or placebo together with their anti-psychotic medication. After six weeks, researchers found that the improvement of positive psychotic symptoms was greater in the participants who were given CBD oil compared to the placebo group. These participants also displayed an increase in their cognitive functioning as well as motor speed when compared to participants who received a placebo.
It's not clear why CBD has anti-psychotic properties. Compared to other anti-psychotic medications, it does not affect the dopaminergic neurons, and it doesn't bind to cannabinoid receptors like THC. Some evidence suggests that CBD increases the CSF levels of anandamide. This is one of the endocannabinoid ligands. Interestingly, lower anandamide levels are associated with more severe psychotic symptoms, while higher anandamide levels are linked with improvement in these symptoms. This potentially suggests that CBD can reduce the severity of psychotic symptoms by increasing the levels of anandamide. More research is needed to confirm this.
Final thoughts on CBD and psychosis
So can CBD cause psychosis?
No. It can help with psychosis. There isn't much-specialized research on CBD and Schizophrenia, but there are studies that show it blocks THC from binding to receptors.
High amounts of THC has been linked with an increased risk of having a drug-induced psychotic episode. However, CBD has been shown to balance out this effect with its anti-psychotic properties.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does CBD oil cause psychosis?
The simple answer is no. THC is the psychoactive component of Cannabis that can increase the risk of psychosis when taking in large amounts frequently. CBD counterbalances the negative effects of THC.
Can CBD cause hallucinations?
CBD doesn't contain psychoactive chemicals that get you high. THC is responsible for that. In some CBD products, there may be more THC than expected. But that's if the product is not third party lab-tested and you get it from a random shop.
Can CBD trigger schizophrenia?
CBD can actually help schizophrenia because it has anti-psychotic effects. There is evidence that it can prevent psychotic episodes caused by THC because it blocks it from binding to receptors in the brain.