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New report finds CBD “may be especially helpful” in treating early-stage psychosis

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A new review from the United Kingdom has found that CBD could one day be used as a treatment for the early stages of psychosis.

Published in the journal Psychopharmacology, the report reviewed all the current research into CBD and psychosis. In particular, it focused on the early stages of psychosis and people who are considered to be in a Clinical High Risk (CHR) state for developing psychosis. Within three years, 15 – 30% of people in a CHR state will develop psychosis. 

According to the study, it is typically difficult to help people manage early stages of psychosis, as clinical trials into treating people with early psychosis with antipsychotic medications, family therapy, and omega-3-fatty acids have found these methods aren’t more effective than case management alone. Researchers say this leaves a “major unmet clinical need” that needs to be addressed. 

However, they do believe that CBD (Cannabidiol) may help.

Between 1995 and 2019, several case studies have confirmed that CBD can be effective for some people. Several small-scale trials have also reported positive effects from CBD. Researchers examined two of these studies in their review (among others).

The first trial compared the outcomes of 42 people with early-stage psychosis. Half of the group took 800 mg of CBD daily, while the other half took the antipsychotic medication Amisulpride. According to researchers, these drugs were found to be equally effective during the four weeks of treatment.

The second trial yielded similar results but used a larger dose of CBD. In that study, 88 people with psychosis were monitored over six weeks. Forty-three participants took 1000 mg CBD daily, while 45 took a placebo drug. When they compared the severity of each participant’s symptoms and the impressions of treating clinicians, the CBD was found to be “associated with improvements.” 

As these studies are only limited, researchers stress that more clinical research is needed (though they note seven randomised controlled CBD and psychosis trials are currently underway). 

Nevertheless, they still believe CBD could be helpful for people with early-stage psychosis, writing:

In first-episode psychosis, CBD may be especially helpful in patients who do not respond to treatment with antipsychotic medications and in patients who are reluctant to take antipsychotics because of concerns about side effects and stigmatisation.

Researchers also noted that CBD could be used in people who don’t respond well to other antipsychotics. Many antipsychotic drugs have debilitating side effects in some people, while they simply don’t relieve psychotic symptoms in a third of patients

If you would like to read the study for yourself, you can find it here.

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