Scientists unpick how cannabis component may fight psychosis

By Ben Hirschler

British scientists have unravelled how a non-intoxicating component of cannabis acts in key brain areas to reduce abnormal activity in patients at risk of psychosis, suggesting the ingredient could become a novel anti-psychotic medicine.

While regular use of potent forms of cannabis can increase the chances of developing psychosis, the chemical cannabidiol or CBD appears to have the opposite effect.

CBD is the same cannabis compound that has also shown benefits in epilepsy, leading in June to the first U.S. approval of a cannabis-based drug, a purified form of CBD from GW Pharmaceuticals.

Previous research at King's College London had shown that CBD seemed to counter the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the substance in cannabis that makes people high. But how this happened was a mystery.

Now, by scanning the brains of 33 young people who were experiencing distressing psychotic symptoms but had not been diagnosed with full-blown psychosis, Sagnik Bhattacharyya and colleagues showed that giving CBD capsules reduced abnormal activity in the striatum, medial temporal cortex and midbrain.

Abnormalities in all three of these brain regions have been linked to the onset of psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia.

Most current anti-psychotic drugs target the dopamine chemical signalling system in the brain, while CBD works in a different way.

Significantly, the compound is very well tolerated, avoiding the adverse side effects such as weight gain and other metabolic problems associated with existing medicines.

"One of the reasons CBD is exciting is because it is very well tolerated compared to the other anti-psychotics we have available," Bhattacharyya of King's College said.

"There is an urgent need for a safe treatment for young people at risk of psychosis."

The Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King's College now plans a large 300-patient clinical trial to test the true potential of CBD as a treatment. Recruitment into the trial is expected to start in early 2019.

The latest findings underscore the complexity of the cocktail of chemicals found within the marijuana plant, at a time when cannabis laws are becoming more liberalised in many countries.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2018.

©2018 GPlusMedia Inc.

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I have known people who smoked marijuana to reduce the symptoms of cancer. and have a neighbor who applies a marijuana based cream for her skin problems.

For myself, I have tried it, but do not like it. Whenever an article about marijuana comes out, there are numerous stories about how it can help people in some circumstances, but little is mentioned about people like myself who just plain don't like it. I like to take a drink now and then, but marijuana does not give me pleasure.

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Any substance shown to reduce abnormal behavior will soon become a mandatory component of every one's diet.

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Many people who begin smoking Cannabis soon discover that the organic solvent and physiological and social poison poison Ethanol, EtOH, is no longer satisfying. One of the major reasons that Pot may not be attractive to a person is because it stimulates thought. For some, this is the reason they use EtOH to blot out their lives or imagined inadequacies. But, the thinking one does when experiencing Mota's effects tend to leave the tired habitual pathways which stimulate the desire for obliteration and open the imagination to new thoughts and epiphanies. For some people who are highly and rigidly controlled, particularly conservative people afraid of 'thinking' or prescribed from 'thinking' by their belief systems, this can be a terrifying experience, the 'paranoia' some people experience, undirected fear of their own minds. A mind unaccustomed or unwelcoming to 'new' thoughts may find Marijuana uncomfortable albeit it is Humanity's oldest (8000 years) documented pharmaceutical. Big Pharma has every Corporate right to hate it and spend hundreds of millions of dollars buying politicians and trying to poison the public mind to a major, effective, and essentially side-effect free medicinal substance superior to any of the poisons they push. THAT'S the ONLY problem with Cannabis, Nature's apothecary.

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