By Emily Ledger
CBD could reportedly be effective as an adjunctive therapy for the treatment of numerous psychotic disorders, according to the results of a recent pilot study.
An international team of researchers from Canada, Switzerland, and Germany carried out an open-label, randomised, placebo-controlled study to determine the effects of CBD cigarettes in acutely psychotic patients.
Over the years, cannabis use has been widely associated with the development of psychotic symptoms and, in some cases, lasting psychotic disorders. However, these potential risks of cannabis use are largely associated with THC – the main psychoactive compound found in the plant.
In contrast, a growing body of evidence is pointing to the potential antipsychotic properties of CBD. A number of studies have demonstrated the favourable impact of CBD in patients with schizophrenia, psychotic symptoms, or people who are at high risk of psychosis. The results of this study support these findings.
Psychotic disorders refer to mental conditions in which a person’s personality is severely confused or in which the affected person loses touch with reality. Some examples include schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, schizophreniform disorder, and brief psychotic disorder.
For this study, researchers assessed the effects of CBD cigarettes in patients with schizophrenia or psychotic disorders and comorbid tobacco use disorder. The design of the study involved offering CBD cigarettes to half of the patients (active group) and standard tobacco cigarettes to the other half (control group), in addition to their routine psychiatric treatment.
In the study sample, 23 had schizophrenia, four were diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, one individual had an acute polymorphic psychotic disorder with symptoms of schizophrenia, two had a bipolar disorder with psychotic symptoms, and one was diagnosed with a psychotic disorder due to cannabis use.
Both CBD and tobacco cigarettes were given on an on-demand basis during the acute therapy phase (days 0-28). CBD cigarettes consisted of 20% hemp and 80% tobacco – a single cigarette contained 20mg of CBD.
The researchers discovered that while psychotic symptoms and depression were seen to reduce at similar levels in both CBD and tobacco groups, CBD use was associated with the use of fewer antipsychotic medications. Furthermore, participants in the control (tobacco) group increased their use of prescription medications.
The researchers concluded: “These results may suggest an antipsychotic medication sparing effect of CBD-cigarettes as adjunctive therapy in acutely psychotic patients. … However, future studies with more rigorous study designs and larger samples are needed.”