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July 13, 2021
 min read

What is the relationship between CBD and schizophrenia?

 Anthony Clement
Written by  
Anthony Clement
July 12, 2021

table of Contents

Over the years, experts have explored the potential use of CBD for schizophrenia. According to limited data, this substance might provide some assistance for treating symptoms of psychosis.

A lot of mental health experts have analyzed CBD for schizophrenia.

This chronic mental disorder can be quite debilitating. While you might think that it's rare, schizophrenia affects 1% of the global population leading to various cognitive symptoms. Furthermore, the condition can even lead to a fatal outcome; each year, there are approximately 30,000 people who die from its consequences.

In most cases, these patients are prescribed antipsychotic medication. But, as of late, there is more and more talk about the potential usage of medicinal cannabis.

Here is how CBD for schizophrenia might work and what to expect from potential CBD treatment.

What is schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia patients will experience a psychotic episode every now and then. In between, a person will have a feeling of stupor and blunted emotional state. Symptoms that appear during psychotic episodes are often referred to as positive psychotic symptoms.

Most common cognitive impairments include delirium, hallucinations, paranoia. Other things that affect schizophrenic patients include anxiety disorder, excessive movement, irritability, bipolar disorder, and depression.

There are also negative symptoms of this mental health condition. This includes decreased speaking, blunt emotion, inability to begin activities or plan, bad perception of things. Oftentimes, schizophrenia symptoms can have a major negative effect on social life.

Besides negative and positive symptoms, we also recognize a third group of issues that includes difficulty thinking and expressing thoughts, loss of focus, bad memory, difficulty understanding things and integrating thoughts, issues with behavior and feelings.

What is psychosis?

If you wish to understand schizophrenia, you should also understand this issue.

Psychosis is not a mental illness but instead a group of symptoms. These issues are very common for schizophrenia. To be precise, psychosis is often a result of schizophrenia, but it can also be triggered by some other mental health conditions.

When a person has psychosis, they will experience various sensations that are not connected to reality. These might be beliefs or sensory experiences.

There are lots of different reasons why a person might experience this issue. Besides before mentioned schizophrenia, it can be caused by brain injury, drug abuse, lack of sleep, high stress levels, or mental illnesses such as a psychotic disorder.

During a psychotic episode, a person will have numerous hallucinations. They might see, smell, or hear things that aren’t there. The ailment is also characterized by strong delusions, that is, false beliefs. Most of these delusions are based on our natural fears. On top of that, a patient might also experience other types of cognitive impairment such as the inability to plan or concentrate.

What is CBD oil?

CBD is a cannabis plant extract. Commonly, it is extracted from hemp or its hybrids.

For the longest time, hemp was used for its therapeutic effect. There are 5,000 year old records from ancient China indicating that the plant was used as a sleep aid, relaxant, and for chronic pain. In the last century, the plant became globally prohibited as governments believe that it can cause psychoactive effects.

The cannabis plant is a very complex species. It has more than 100 different active ingredients, among which cannabinoids are the most popular ones. Besides CBD, hemp also has THC, CBC, CBG, and other chemicals. It is also full of terpenes, flavonoids, and other beneficial substances.

We get CBD oil by extracting it from plants' buds, leaves, and stalks. A single dose of product can reduce your stress levels, improve your sleep, sharpen focus, and provide various other benefits.

When we introduce CBD tincture into our body, it will start interacting with cannabinoid receptors. By stimulating CB1 receptors as well as CB2 receptors, the oil can improve the work of the endocannabinoid system, which is responsible for sleep, mood, focus, protection, regeneration, pain, and various internal functions. However, for this to take effect, some experts believe that the product also requires THC.

THC is a psychoactive chemical that is common for marijuana but not that common for hemp. Governments usually limit its presence within CBD oil to 0.3%. However, this trace amount might be required to stimulate the receptors.

On the other hand, CBD chemical works as an antagonist. Unlike THC that causes binding, CBD prevents it. Still, we need to have it within the medical hemp oil as it can reduce the psychoactive effect of THC. On top of that, it might provide some other benefits.

The truth is, there are a lot of things we don't know about medical hemp and specific cannabinoids. When talking about THC, it is a substance that can even trigger psychosis. This is why the presence of CBD is so important. But, if we were to use medical hemp oil in appropriate quantities, perhaps we can achieve therapeutic effects without any drawbacks.

How does CBD affect psychosis?

While THC might be problematic and cause psychosis, CBD should have a much simpler, easier impact on the body. Nowadays, a lot of experts have started exploring its antipsychotic properties.

Over the years, there were numerous CBD schizophrenia studies that involved animal and healthy volunteers. Given that the substance can stifle the psychoactive properties of THC, it makes sense that it would do the same for psychosis caused by schizophrenia. Of course, you shouldn't expect that this chemical would actually treat the underlying issue. Instead, you can only expect the improvement of symptoms.

Unfortunately, although these studies are promising, they are far from conclusive. We also have to consider that most of them were performed on animal studies, which means they probably won’t cause the same impact on the human body.

One of the first such tests that also included a placebo was performed in 2017. During a 6-week period, 88 patients were given either placebo therapy or CBD. Needless to say, all of them suffered from psychosis. CBD was administered as an adjunctive treatment to antipsychotics. All of the participants were thoroughly assessed before and after the trial.

The scientists concluded that the people who took cannabidiol experienced a major improvement of psychotic symptoms. Their cognitive abilities were on a high level, especially when compared to patients who took a placebo. Even the patients' psychiatrists corroborated these findings.

How could CBD oil affect schizophrenia?

As mentioned, there is very little that CBD oil can do for schizophrenia. But, it might have antipsychotic properties that will assist with some of the symptoms.

The standard medication works by affecting various neurotransmitters. These antipsychotic drugs should stimulate dopamine receptors, noradrenaline, serotonin, and acetylcholine. Regulating the secretion of dopamine is especially important. According to all the findings, this chemical is the main reason behind psychotic episodes. So, by stifling its quantity within the brain, we can also control the problem.

By binding to dopamine receptors, the traditional antipsychotic medicines are able to reduce the production. Keep in mind that this might not always help. For example, some patients with psychosis have normal dopamine levels, which indicates that the impact of the hormone is overstated.

As for CBD oil for the treatment of schizophrenia, most of it is based on presumptions. One specific study revolved around CBD-using patients. During the trials, researchers compared the brain activation results of the CBD group with the health controls.

Their activation levels were much lower compared to the health controlled group. People who used CBD have experienced a much higher level of brain activation compared to placebo users.

Studies that explored optimal CBD dosage for schizophrenia

Some researchers argue that for patients to experience an improvement, they need to take a certain dosage of CBD oil.

Like with most similar substances, the first tests were performed on lab animals. During the study, animals were given the quantity according to their size, and the results were quite promising. The test subjects experienced major improvement for the duration of the research.

The next study was performed on a human subject. The patient was a young woman with chronic psychosis. She has experienced numerous drawbacks while using antipsychotic drugs, which persuaded her to try this kind of treatment. After four weeks, the subject also had a major reduction in psychosis symptoms.

Here, we need to place emphasis on dosage. During the previously mentioned study, the female subject ingested 1,500 milligrams of cannabidiol each day. This dosage was divided into two takings. There was also a weekly dose of diazepam. Keep in mind that the drug was only given when the patient experienced major anxiety disorder or agitation. As the trial progressed, the dose of diazepam went from 16,3 to 5,7 milligrams. Researchers focused on all psychotic symptoms with special emphasis on suspiciousness, open hostility, and thought disturbance.

Over time, experts have experimented with different doses. We’ve seen 3 separate trials where subjects were given CBD oil for schizophrenia. One of the most interesting ones included 39 volunteers who were either given CBD or atypical antipsychotic amisulpride (800 milligrams per day for each substance).

At the end of the trial, scientists concluded that traditional drugs and CBD produce very similar effects. The reduction in negative symptoms, as well as positive ones, was very similar. However, people who took CBD had much fewer symptoms to deal with.

How to determine the optimal CBD dose for schizophrenia?

First off, we are not even certain that you should use CBD oil for schizophrenia. While the study results are promising, they are far from conclusive. If you wish to use it as a potential treatment, it is best to start by consulting with a medical professional.

When determining CBD dosage, regardless of the medical problem, there are several factors that you need to consider:

·         Body weight

·         CBD tolerance

·         A condition that you want to address

·         Age and other metabolic factors

·         Concentration of cannabinoids

In most cases, people determine dose based on their body weight. You might also include other factors as you go, such as CBD tolerance. Anyway, most people will take between 10 to 40 milligrams of the chemical each day.

Experts recommend that you start with a minimal dose and see how it suits you. CBD dosing usually comes down to a process of trial and error. Keep in mind that if you wish to address chronic problems, it will take some time for cannabinoids to kick in.

It is also recommended that you take products with minimal THC concentration. Given that this substance can cause psychotic episodes itself, you shouldn’t risk it with increased quantities. Furthermore, experts believe that even small quantities of THC are enough to stimulate the endocannabinoid system.

What is the best CBD oil for schizophrenia?

This is a really hard question to answer.

First off, we differentiate 3 main oil types: full spectrum CBD oil, broad spectrum CBD oil, and CBD isolate.

Basically, the full spectrum has all cannabinoids as hemp. The broad spectrum is the same as the full spectrum, but it doesn't have THC. Lastly, CBD isolate only has cannabidiol.

If you believe that THC is important for its wellness properties, you will have to go with the full spectrum. Otherwise, you should go with other isolate or broad spectrum CBD oil. Perhaps the best thing to do is to try all of them and see which one provides the best results.

Always remember that CBD products can vary significantly based on a manufacturer, so it is much better to buy these chemicals from reputable stores that have a certificate of authenticity.

Davies, C., Bhattacharyya, S., (2019), Cannabidiol as a potential treatment for psychosis, Therapeutic advances in psychopharmacology, London, the United Kingdom


McGuire, P., Robson, P., Cubala, W., Vasile, D., Morrison, P., G., Barron, R., Taylor, A., Wright, S., (2017), Cannabidiol (CBD) as an Adjunctive Therapy in Schizophrenia: A Multicenter Randomized Controlled Trial, Textbook of Medical Psychiatry


Zuardi, A., Rodriguez, J., Cunha, J., (1991), Effects of cannabidiol in animal models predictive of antipsychotic activity, Psychopharmacology, Berlin, Germany