In individuals affected by psychosis, cannabidiol could help to reduce the anomalies of the brain function.
The news arrives from a study on CBD published in 'Jama Psychiatry' which supplied "the first evidence on how CBD acts on the brain, reducing psychotic symptoms".
The research was carried out by a team of the King's College of London, where, in 2017, studies were already conducted on the anti-psychotic potentials of cannabidiol.
"Today, cornerstone of the treatment for individuals affected by psychosis are medical drugs discovered in the 50s, which unfortunately do not work for everybody - Sagnik Bhattacharyya of the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (Ioppn) underlines – Our results have started to explain the brain mechanisms of a new medical drug which acts in a completely different way compared to traditional anti-psychotic drugs".
The research of the scientists focused on 33 young people with psychotic symptoms not yet diagnosticated and a control group of 19 healthy individuals. To 16 of the patients a single dose of cannabidiol was administered, while the other 17 received a placebo.
All the participants were then submitted to a magnetic resonance, while carrying out a memory exercise, which activated the use of 3 regions of the brain generally involved in psychotic disorders.
As expected, the brain activity in the individuals at risk of psychosis was anomalous with respect to the one observed in the healthy individuals.
However, in the patients who had taken CBD, the anomalies resulted less severe with respect to those of the group treated with the placebo.
For the authors this indicates that cannabidiol can help to ‘reset’ brain activity, bringing it back to normal levels.
According to the researchers, the basis of the therapeutic effects of CBD could in fact be its action on the 3 examined areas of the brain.
Previous research studies of the King's College of London suggested that cannabidiol works in opposition to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), another active principle of cannabis, investigated as a possible 'fuse' for the onset of psychosis, especially in adolescence.
Hence, the hypothesis is that THC 'mimes' some effects of psychosis, and that, on the contrary, CBD has opposite neurological and behavioural actions.
In Great Britain alone, every year there would be more that 15 thousand individuals with precocious symptoms of psychosis and in spite of the fact that the disorders can be very severe, at the moment no treatments without serious side effects, to be offered to high-risk patients, exist.
"There is an urgent need of a secure treatment for young people at risk of psychosis - Bhattacharyya affirms – and one of the main advantages of cannabidiol is in fact that it is secure and very well-tolerated".
In case of success, the author concludes, the newly-started experimentation will produce a final proof of the role of CBD as an anti-psychotic treatment and will pave the way to its clinical use”.