LONDON – CBD may represent “a new class of treatment” for the roughly 3 percent of the world’s population suffering from psychotic disorders, according to the results of a recent clinical trial. The psychiatric community considers the study particularly encouraging, because CBD does not produce the unpleasant side effects that often attend antipsychotic medications.
The first clinical study of CBD as a treatment for psychosis included 88 schizophrenic patients, half of whom were treated with 1,000mg of CBD daily. The other half received a placebo. During the double-blind trial, both groups continued to take their usual anti-psychotic medications as prescribed. All patients were assessed using four common testing scales before and after treatment.
After six weeks, attending physicians determined the CBD group had lower levels of positive psychotic symptoms and were more likely to be rated as improved and as not severely unwell, compared to the placebo group. Patients who received CBD also showed greater improvements in cognitive performance and overall functioning. CBD was well tolerated, and rates of adverse events were similar between the CBD and placebo groups.
“While it is still unclear exactly how CBD works, we know that it acts in a different way to antipsychotic medication, so it could represent a new class of treatment,” study leader Philip McGuire, Ph.D., wrote for academic and research website The Conversation. “The absence of side effects is also potentially important, as a key problem in caring for patients with psychosis is that they are often reluctant to take antipsychotic drugs because of concerns about side effects.”
McGuire, a professor of psychiatry at King’s College London, said the next step is to perform another clinical trial with a larger group of patients, including those who suffer from psychoses other than schizophrenia.
The study results were published in the December issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.