There are a lot of misconceptions and stigmas surrounding cannabis and CBD. Most people know cannabis for its recreational uses and are skeptical about its medicinal uses. But curiosity is starting to be aroused with the introduction of CBD on the scene; and while people are still skeptical, they are starting to ask more questions, like, “What’s the difference between marijuana and hemp?”, “Is cannabis really effective medicinally?”, “Can CBD oil cause a ‘high’ like THC?” and, “Can CBD oil cause psychosis?”
Here at Many Words One Voice, we recently wrapped up an entire series on CBD Oil which covered many aspects of the cannabinoid compound including many different illnesses and conditions that it helps, its safety and its legality. But now I want to talk about something that is a more basic common question that people wonder about: Can CBD oil cause psychosis?
Can CBD Oil Cause Psychosis?
1. What is Psychosis?
Psychotic disorders are severe mental health conditions that characterized by a “loss of contact with reality”. This means that the individual loses the ability to distinguish what’s real from isn’t. Psychotic symptoms can include visual hallucinations, hearing voices, or pervasive delusional thinking.
These can often present themselves as a “psychotic episode” – which is a relatively sudden worsening of psychotic symptoms over a short time-frame, frequently resulting in hospitalization.
In an article on cannabis and psychosis, Marijuana Break says, “It might sound kind of crude to say it, but psychosis might kind of be considered as the “peak” of mental disorders; on a level of severity, it far exceeds the likes of generalized depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety. In short, psychosis (which includes schizophrenia) represents a complete detachment from the world of reality. It’s when individuals begin displaying highly erratic behavior, and can no longer distinguish between what’s real and what’s not.
“That being said, it seems unlikely that a natural therapy like cannabis – or any sort of medication, for that matter – might be effective in reversing the onset of the condition. However, studies that analyze the effects of marijuana for schizophrenia and psychosis have been going on for years, and now, scientists are starting to turn their attention specifically to CBD as a possible treatment.”
2. The Difference Between THC and CBD
Probably the most important factor that we have to discuss when addressing the issue of cannabis and psychosis is the difference between the two cannabinoid compounds THC and CBD, which we went into depth about in our blog post CBD Oil: The Difference Between CBD and THC, “CBD and THC both interact with that system, albeit in different ways. Their chemical makeups are similar to the body’s own endocannabinoids, which allows them to interact with the body’s cannabinoid receptors to alter the release of neurotransmitters in the brain.
“Despite their similarities, CBD and THC have distinct differences in how they interact with the cannabinoid receptors, and subsequently the natural effect that they produce…One of the key differences between THC and CBD is whether or not the cannabinoid will induce a euphoric “high” when consumed.”
THC is the primary cannabinoid found in marijuana, and CBD is the primary cannabinoid found in hemp. THC is what causes the psychoactive and notorious “high”, while CBD has no psychoactive properties whatsoever. It cannot cause a “high”.
And that is where the differences between the two compounds come into play in regards to psychosis.
“The heaviest users of cannabis are around four times as likely to develop schizophrenia (a psychotic disorder that affects a person’s ability to think, feel and behave clearly) than non-users,” according to an article from The Conversation. “Even the “average cannabis user” (for which the definition varies from study to study) is around twice as likely as a non-user to develop a psychotic disorder.
“Furthermore, these studies found a causal link between tetrahydrocannabinol (THC – the plant chemical which elicits the “stoned” experience) and psychosis. This means the link is not coincidental, and one has actually caused the other.”
3. How Does CBD Help?
Despite the negative effects and higher risks for psychosis that THC pose, there is a cannabinoid that may actually be beneficial in treating psychosis. You guessed it–CBD! In contrast to THC, CBD may provide a buffering effect to the potentially psychosis-inducing effects of THC.
This may occur in part due to its ability to partially block the same brain chemical receptor THC binds with. CBD can also inhibit the breakdown of a brain chemical called “anandamide,” which makes us feel happy.
CBD extracted from cannabis and used in isolation is well-tolerated with minimal psychoactive effects, meaning it doesn’t make a person feel “high”.
One important study published last year (2017) in The American Journal of Psychiatry disclosed that CBD may be a reliable treatment for schizophrenic victims suffering from hallucinations and delusions. The American Journal of Psychiatry is one of the leading sources for reliable news on psychiatric treatments, and this study was especially important as it was believed to be the first actual clinical trial of CBD for schizophrenia.
The study showed that the active CBD works to potentially limit the amount of dopamine that is blocked as a result of pharmaceutical drug treatment. (The CBD was administered in correspondence with other medications).
Of the 83 patients that were tested, all who were given CBD treatment experimented “dramatic improvements” in their symptoms, compared to the control group that was given a placebo. The data indicated that six weeks of treatment in addition to antipsychotic medication was associated with significant effects both on positive psychotic symptoms and on the treating clinicians’ impressions of improvement and illness severity.
Pretty astounding news, considering the fact that CBD had never before been showcased in a clinical trial to alleviate the effects of psychosis and antipsychotic medications.
We started out looking at the question, “Can CBD oil cause psychosis?” And in conclusion, no. CBD oil cannot cause psychosis, and studies have shown it to be a counterbalance for the condition. Now while there is certainly no cure or “quick fix” for different kinds of psychosis, it’s clear that CBD oil is an effective and reliable treatment option, at least to lessen onset symptoms and reduce the frequency of intermittent psychotic episodes.
Hopefully, the therapy will offer some a solution for the many millions of people across the globe who don’t have access to treatment. While pharmaceutical medications and expensive antipsychotics are not an option for most victims, CBD represents a healthy, natural option for self-medication that is affordable and effective.
This piece was written for and can be found on Many Words One Voice.