When scientists discovered that cannabidiol (CBD) helped relieve the psychotic effects that can be brought on by THC, they realized that hemp oil could be a valid treatment for schizophrenia. Because CBD interacts with our endocannabinoid system, it has access to areas researchers believe are effected by this brain disorder like cannabinoid receptors and endocannabinoids.
What Is Schizophrenia
When you think of schizophrenia, voices in someone’s head might be the first thing that comes to your mind. But this mental illness is so much more than what Hollywood portrays it as. It’s not a split personality or multiple-personalities like some might believe. Schizophrenia patients are rarely violent or dangerous and can be fully functional members of society.
Symptoms of Schizophrenia
This is when a person believes something that isn’t a reality. This can be feeling that someone is out to get you or is plotting to harm you in some way, or thinking that someone is in love with you and anything they do is a product of their affection. This is one of the most common symptoms of schizophrenia.
Hallucinations are when one of your senses portrays something that doesn’t exist in our reality. The most common hallucination that people with schizophrenia face is audible hallucinations, meaning they can hear it. This isn’t always voices in their head; it can be a car horn or a dog barking. Any of the five senses can be tricked with hallucinations, making a significant impact on the patient’s reality.
I know what you’re thinking, all of these symptoms are negative. But this just means symptoms that involve lack of functionality. This can include neglecting personal hygiene, not being able to express emotions, unable to feel pleasure, and finding no excitement in the world around you.
Disorganized of Abnormal Motor Behavior
This type of symptom can range from being inappropriate in a goofy way to a violent way. This makes it difficult to do tasks and can make people extremely defiant towards rules.
This is shown through disorganization through speech. This looks like answering questions to having incomplete answers, and can even look like jumbled phrases that make no sense.
It’s very common that people with schizophrenia isolate themselves from social situations. It can be difficult to understand how to read a room when living in a different reality. Also paranoia and inability to get their point across can make it difficult to hold meaningful conversations with other people.
Causes Of Schizophrenia
Researchers are still unsure what exactly causes schizophrenia. What they do believe is that genetics, environment, and brain chemistry play pivotal roles in developing this disorder. Though there have been neural images showing how different the brain of a schizophrenic patient is compared to a healthy patient, researchers still are unsure what significance these changes have.
How To Help A Loved One With Schizophrenia
If you have a loved one with schizophrenia, the best thing you can do is be positive while they go through their treatment. Recognize milestones they have made, congratulate them on furthering their journey in recovery, and keep boosting their self-confidence. This illness can feel very lonely when it seems like no one understands what you are going through, let them know that you are going to be there for them.
Only about 1% of the population suffers from this chronic brain disorder, and when the symptoms are treated, they can live fulfilling lives. Schizophrenia doesn’t have a cure, but the symptoms can be treated with medication. Some patients may find that they can reduce their symptoms more than others, but that’s the name of the game when it comes to illness.
Recent studies have shown that some schizophrenia patients can cope with their illness without prescription medication. This is good news because some of the side-effects from the antipsychotic drugs are muscle stiffness and shakes, breast milk production (even in men), excessive saliva, Increased risk of diabetes, excessive weight gain, and an increased effort having to be made for their day to day lives. Though, not everyone is high-functioning enough to cope with their illness without help from medication, which is why people are turning to CBD.
What Is CBD?
Cannabidiol is one of many compounds in the cannabis sativa plant. Unlike the famous chemical THC, cannabidiol has healing benefits without getting the user high or intoxicated. It has grabbed a lot of attention from scientists and doctors because of its ability to heal, inability to get you high, as well as being extremely well tolerated at high doses without opportunity for abuse. With its ability to help with physical and mental illnesses, it’s becoming the jack-of-all-trades in medicine. It can do so much in your body because of its relationship with the endocannabinoid system.
Whenever you get sad, the reason you don’t stay in that state of sadness forever is because of your endocannabinoid system. Its job is to regulate your body, so you are at a high functioning capacity for survival. This system has three main parts that help to control everything going on behind and beyond your skin.
The first part of the endocannabinoid system is the endocannabinoids. They are chemicals that are made in your brain to help regulate brain activity. Because they travel backward, unlike many neurotransmitters in the brain, they send their message to the sending cell which gives it the power to inhibit or promote activity. Endocannabinoids need somewhere to go, and they bind to our cannabinoid receptors.
The two endocannabinoids we have that we know about so far are anandamide and the 2-AG endocannabinoid. The way they bind to receptors is similar to a lock and key. Anandamide is the key to the CB1 receptor that is in control of our neurological system, while 2-AG is the key to the CB2 receptor that helps run our immune system. When these endocannabinoids are all used up, they need to be degraded. Otherwise, you can have a build-up of debris in your brain, making it hard to communicate with itself. This is why the system has metabolic enzymes.
These enzymes break down the endocannabinoids when they are no longer in use, and they also synthesize the endocannabinoids when they are needed. It’s interesting that endocannabinoids are made on demand by these enzymes because many chemicals in our brain are already in there waiting to be used held in these sacs called vesicles.
How CBD Works With The Endocannabinoid System
Unfortunately, our endocannabinoid systems aren’t perfect. If you have schizophrenia, your endocannabinoid system isn’t playing fair which we will get into later. CBD oil interacts with your endocannabinoid system like all other cannabinoids, but unlike THC, it does it more indirectly.
THC can get you high because it is so similar to anandamide, that it can be the key to CB1’s lock and bind to the receptor. That’s why you get such intense effects. CBD, on the other hand, elevates endocannabinoids, stimulates different receptors, and opens pathways and channels for more brain functionality.
Schizophrenia and the Endocannabinoid System
We briefly discussed how your endocannabinoid system isn’t functioning correctly when you have schizophrenia. Several studies have been reviewed on rodent models as well as human patients regarding what changes happen in the endocannabinoid system. While measuring the levels of anandamide, they noticed that it was eight times higher than the healthier subjects. Scientists believe that CB1 receptors might also have something to do with the disease, but this is still inconclusive. They have noticed both lack of density as well as standard amounts of CB1 receptors in schizophrenia patients, though they did note that patients taking drugs for their illness seemed to have a lower count of receptors.
How Does CBD Fit In?
Cannabidiol helps with pain and mood disorders because it can elevate the levels of anandamide. It would seem as though that would make schizophrenia worse considering scientists believe high levels of anandamide may be the cause. However, in a study where they administered CBD to patients with schizophrenia, when they measured their anandamide levels, they showed to be lower.
This study also explains how CBD oil shows an inverted U shape response with dosage showing that lower doses have been more effective than higher ones. The author of the study describes how this may contribute to studies having no effect on their patient subjects when using higher doses. When studying patients who were given placebos and cannabidiol, they found that CBD was showing better results in the trial.
Talk To Your Doctor
If you are thinking about taking CBD for your disorder, make sure to keep your doctor in the loop. If you have schizophrenia, one thing you need to remember is that you aren’t as tethered to this world as everyone else. Having a professional help you make this transition into new treatment will give you another set of eyes to watch your progress. It is always a good idea to include your doctor when it comes to any medical changes, even your diet and exercise routines.