How Cannabis Affects the Brain — Study Shows Marijuana Extracts Help Psychosis

How Cannabis Affects the Brain
(image via Health Explores)

How Cannabis Affects the Brain — Study Shows Marijuana Extracts Help Psychosis

How cannabis affects the brain and mental health problems like psychosis can be confusing. On one hand, it can induce psychotic-like symptoms. On the other hand, it can help control them.

But how can cannabis help people with psychosis when it can produce psychotic-like symptoms? Won’t using cannabis aggravate the symptoms more?

Cannabis and Psychosis, What’s the Connection?

Using cannabis can indeed produce psychotic-like symptoms. These include heightened anxiety, delusions, depression, hallucinations, and paranoia. But these effects are temporary. They begin to disappear as soon as the effects wear off.

Some researchers believe though that chronic, heavy cannabis use increases the risk of developing long-lasting psychotic-like symptoms. It can also lead to permanent psychosis. This risk is further increased if the user already presents with psychotic symptoms.

So, the question remains. Is it true that marijuana extracts help psychosis in patients or not?

 

 

A Closer Look at How Cannabis Affects the Brain

CBD vs THC on the brain
The two main active compounds in cannabis have very different effect with regards to treating psychosis (image via Erza Parzybok)

To better appreciate how cannabis affects the brain, you have to understand the two major cannabinoids. You have tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol. These two activate the endocannabinoid systems (ECS) found in cells. Their primary function is to regulate biological responses.

How cannabis affects the brain is actually pretty interesting. THC produces psychotic effects when it activates the ECS. However, CBD has the opposite effect and counteracts many of the psychoactive effects of THC. It reduces the activities of the brain regions responsible for psychosis.

CBD also activates other types of receptors found in the brain. When activated, they produce anti-anxiety and antipsychotic effects.

Another way that cannabis affects the brain is by improving our endogenous cannabinoid levels. Our cells produce cannabis-like compounds called endogenous cannabinoids or endocannabinoids. They are the primary activators of the ECS. They regulate several biological functions including mood, emotions, memory, fear, anxiety, and cognition. Any abnormality in their levels can produce or worsen physical and mental symptoms.

One study revealed that THC and CBD can improve our endocannabinoid levels. With higher levels of the compounds regulating abnormal brain functions, they can control psychotic symptoms.

 

 

Important Studies That Show How Cannabis Affects the Brain

Schizophrenia and Cannabis, a syringe of CBD
In high doses, CBD has shown been able to treat the symptoms of schizophrenia (image via CTV Toronto)

CBD is non-intoxicating. It is also non-addictive and nonpsychoactive. Several studies have shown that CBD has the ability to control psychotic symptoms.

In one study, a schizophrenic 19-year-old girl received CBD treatment for her symptoms. At a high dose of up 1,500 mg, CBD reduced her psychotic behaviors. Cessation of CBD therapy resulted in the worsening of her condition.

Another study involved 33 individuals with psychotic symptoms. Of the 33 participants, 16 of them received a single dose of CBD, while 17 received placebo treatment. Before the procedure, researchers took MRI scans of the participants’ brains. These scans showed an abnormality in their brain activity patterns. After CBD administration though, there was a reduction in their abnormal brain activities that allowed them to function better. Those who received placebo treatment showed no significant improvement.

We need more studies on how cannabis affects the brain and controls the symptoms of mental health problems. But these studies on CBD and psychosis show very promising results.

 

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