Antipsychotic effects of CBD explored in brain imaging study

A team of researchers from King’s College London has, for the first time, imaged the brains of patients with psychosis under the influence of cannabidiol (CBD). The study demonstrates the anti-psychotic potential of CBD, suggesting large clinical trials are necessary.

Despite a wave of CBD products hitting the market touting unsubstantiated health claims, one of the more compelling and well-researched properties of this cannabis-derived compound is its intriguing antipsychotic effects. An exploratory trial from King’s College researchers in 2017 found CBD was beneficial in patients suffering from schizophrenia-related psychosis but exactly what mechanism was at play has been unclear.

A new brain imaging study is offering valuable insights into how CBD influences the brain of a subject with psychosis. The research examined 13 patients with psychosis using a double-blind, placebo controlled, crossover design. This means each patient took part in two fMRI imaging sessions – one with a placebo and one with a dose of CBD. A healthy cohort was also studied without any drug administration, offering an effective control group.

Comparing the psychosis patients under placebo with the healthy control revealed significant differences in functional connectivity between the striatum and the hippocampus. Under the influence of CBD, however, the dysfunctional connectivity was notably reduced in the psychosis subjects.

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