Researchers at Western University have found a chemical in marijuana they believe will be an ideal treatment for schizophrenia.
Their study, published in the journal of Neuroscience, shows cannabidiol, or CBD, affects the brain in a way that has positive results in mitigating psychiatric symptoms. Unlike traditional schizophrenia medication, CBD does not cause fatigue, lack of motivation, and other common side-effects.
“One of the biggest problems in treating schizophrenia is that there hasn’t been an effective new treatment on the market in a very long time,” says Steven Laviolette, PhD, associate professor at Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry. “The drugs on the market today have limited efficacy and horrible side effects; there is a desperate need for safer alternative medications.”
Laviolette and his team, led by postdoctoral fellow Justine Renard, were able to show CBD can normalize schizophrenia-like disturbances in the brain’s dopamine system, alleviating schizophrenia-related symptoms.
This research comes just months after the same lab found that adolescent exposure to THC, the other major compound found in marijuana, may lead to the onset of schizophrenia in adulthood.
“CBD is acting in a way that is the exact opposite to what THC is doing,” says Laviolette. “Within the same plant, you’ve got two different chemicals that are producing opposite effects in terms of psychiatric effects, molecular signaling and effects on the dopamine pathway.”
The Schizophrenia Society of Canada says 300,000 Canadians suffer from the serious mental illness. Symptoms include hallucinations and delusions.
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