Is CBD an Option for Aiding Symptoms of Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a difficult disorder to treat. Traditional treatments often include the potential for experiencing serious side effects. Science indicates that CBD may be an option for aiding the treatment of schizophrenia. Anyone with this diagnosis should not go off of prescribed medication without consulting their physicians as it may have harmful effects. This guide explains how CBD may help aid symptoms of schizophrenia.
What is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is an interference of thinking, managing emotions, decision-making and how you relate to others. It is a long-term mental illness that affects about 1-percent of the American population. Isolation and withdrawal from friends, family and social settings is one symptom of schizophrenia.
Additional symptoms include:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Raised suspicions
- Unusual thought patterns (disorganized or irrational thoughts)
- Family history of conditions including psychosis
- Change in group or groups of friends
- Changes in speech
- Loss of interest in life
- Inability to maintain relationships
- Clinical depression
There is no age or age range specified for the onset of symptoms but is often in the early 20s for males and between the late 20s and early 30s for females. Adolescent and middle age diagnoses are uncommon.
There are several potential causes of schizophrenia including genetic makeup. There isn’t a single gene that can be singled out as multiple variations often play a factor. If a first-degree relative has a schizophrenia diagnoses, especially an identical twin, the risk of diagnosis slightly increases.
Substance use may play a role as many do alter the mind. If there are issues with dopamine or glutamate in the brain, it may be a contributing factor to schizophrenia. Issues with these two chemicals interfere with neurotransmitter communications with brain cells may be affected.
Environment, such as malnutrition in utero, may increase the risk of schizophrenia. Other environmental factors include autoimmune disease diagnosis and diagnoses of an inflammatory disease that would increase the immune system.
Traditional Treatments for Schizophrenia
Much of the traditional treatment for schizophrenia is antipsychotic medications and intense psychotherapy. The psychotherapy will include cognitive behavioral therapy, assertive community treatment and other supportive therapies. Patients are often taught self-management strategies and are also educated about their mental illness.
Some of the most common anti-psychotic medications prescribed include:
In some cases, tremors may occur. Schizophrenic patients with tremors may be prescribed a medication called Benztropine to reduce or control tremors.
Potential of CBD as Treatment Aid
Given that THC and the combination of some cannabinoids together potentially altering the mind, traditional cannabis isn’t often suggested for use in those with schizophrenia. CBD, on the other hand, may hold some weight in potentially aiding traditional treatments.
The American Journal of Psychiatry published a study in 2017 suggesting that CBD may be an option for schizophrenic patients with symptoms of delusions and hallucinations. This study may have been the first actual clinical trial surrounding schizophrenia and CBD. Several other studies have been conducted exploring the potential benefit of CBD for aiding the treatment of schizophrenia.
In the brain, CBD helps to control how much dopamine is blocked from pharmaceutical treatments.
The study authors said, “The data indicates that six weeks of treatment adjunctive to antipsychotic medication was associated with significant effects both on psychotic symptoms and on the treating clinicians’ impressions of improvement and illness severity.”
Higher doses of CBD may be necessary to show improvement in symptoms. During the controlled study, those given CBD were administered 1,000mg. The study took place over a 6-week period. Each of the 88 participants maintained use of their prescribed medication. CBD is known to reduce anxiety and may also be beneficial for reducing episodes of paranoia. It is a calming cannabinoid.
One of CBD’s properties is antipsychotic, so this may be an effective option. It is also an anti-inflammatory, antixyiolytic (reducing anxiety), anticonvulsant, anti-seizure, neuroprotectant and so much more.
Since schizophrenia negatively impacts inclusion in socialization and interactions with people, CBD may be beneficial in helping calm the mind and body enough to be social and restore cognition. Not all medications assist well enough to aid social interaction and social behaviors. In fact, several antipsychotic medications don’t help cognitive defects at all. Nearly 80-percent of schizophrenia patients have cognitive defects.
What these scientific findings indicate is that CBD may be a beneficial addition to traditional medical treatments for those with schizophrenia. CBD should not replace traditional treatments and should not be the only option for treating symptoms.
Avoid Cannabis Use
If you have been diagnosed with schizophrenia or another psychotic disorder, it is best to avoid traditional cannabis. THC does alter the brain and may increase the severity of symptoms. THC is known to induce euphoria, and for those with schizophrenia and psychotic disorders, this may induce hallucinations.
Suggested Types of CBD Products
The number of CBD products grows often. It is always suggested to obtain full spectrum hemp CBD, but in this case, a zero-THC CBD product may be better. Although the amount of THC in a full spectrum CBD product is 0.3-percent or less, no THC is better for those with psychosis or other types of mental illnesses where psychosis is possible.
CBD capsules may help provide calming effects for several hours at a time. Most manufacturers suggest using a capsule or two per day, depending on the dosage, but more may be required. It may, however, be a good idea to begin with a 25mg or stronger capsule – but of course, speak to your physician first as he or she may, in fact, support the inclusion of CBD but may suggest starting at a lower dose.
Tinctures are another good option as some are designed to provide relief of a specific symptom such as insomnia, inflammation and/or anxiety. These may help provide calming effects, especially when anxiety is a factor. Tinctures are a fast-acting option.
CBD Oil alone may be another option as it is taken orally and is fast-acting. Make sure that you are purchasing a CBD oil that has been tested to indicate that it does include the amount of CBD the label says and that it is free of additives, preservatives, artificial ingredients and other plant materials. Ask to see the lab results or contact the manufacturer prior to making a purchase to view the lab results yourself.
CBD transdermal patches are available in most medical cannabis markets and may work for up to 24-hours.
If a CBD product does not have lab testing available and medical cannabis is legal in your area, contact a local medical cannabis testing lab to inquire about having a product tested. There will be an out-of-pocket cost, but most labs do allow individuals to bring products in for testing.
Schizophrenia can be difficult to treat. For some, tolerances buildup to prescribed medications and a change in dosage or medication may be required. It may take some time to find the right combination and frequency of prescribed medications to find the right balance. Data does indicate that CBD may be a beneficial aid to those with schizophrenia but should not be started without speaking with a treating physician first. While there aren’t any known negative side effects of adding CBD to a medication regimen for schizophrenics, some doctors prefer that more research be done before they recommend it to patients and yours may not be comfortable with you adding something new without approval first.