Updated on January 3, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Schizophrenia causes you to experience psychosis symptoms, such as hallucinations and delusions, that make it difficult to determine what’s real and what’s not. The stigma associated with schizophrenia prevents many patients from getting help, as well. Plus, the patients who do get treatment usually end up taking medications that cause side effects like movement disorders.
To avoid the side effects of schizophrenia medication, some patients choose medical marijuana. Cannabis medicine relieves schizophrenia symptoms like mood problems and fatigue. The information we have about medicinal cannabis also suggests it could tackle the causes of schizophrenia.
While evidence shows cannabis can reduce an extensive list of symptoms, many experts worry it could affect cognitive function. To gather data on this subject, Power et al. investigated the effect of marijuana use on cognitive function in schizophrenia patients.
A large subject pool of 1237 patients took part in the study. The team divided the participants into three groups: cannabis users, non-users and users who are dependent on cannabis. To measure cognitive abilities, the researchers used tests that evaluated reading and association.
While the results initially seemed to show cannabis reduced cognitive abilities, it turned out that there was no link. The scientists considered age, socioeconomic background and IQ before diagnosis in their results. When they did so, those aspects had more of an impact than marijuana use.
Leweke et al. examined the effects of CBD on schizophrenia symptoms and anandamide levels. In a previous study, the team found anandamide, a cannabinoid transmitter found in the body, could reduce psychosis. Since CBD affects anandamide, the researchers wanted to see if it could work like antipsychotic medicine.
The scientists recruited a total of 42 patients who were being treated for schizophrenia. For four weeks, the participants took either CBD or a pharmaceutical. At the end of the treatment period, the team evaluated schizophrenia symptoms and side effects. During the beginning, middle and end of treatment, they also looked at blood serum levels of anandamide.
Both treatments improved the subjects’ schizophrenia symptoms. CBD worked about as well as the pharmaceutical did, and with fewer and safer side effects. Patients who took CBD also had increased anandamide levels in their blood, showing there could be an effect.
Proal et al. explored the link between adolescent cannabis use and schizophrenia onset. Previous research suggested teen marijuana use could raise the risk of developing psychosis. But, these studies didn’t have control groups for people who don’t use cannabis and people without psychosis. So, they wanted to conduct their own research featuring those groups.
The team divided 279 subjects into four groups:
Making these groups let Proal et al. see which factors influenced each other. They interviewed the subjects and their family members about family illnesses and cannabis use. Marijuana use did not have an impact on schizophrenia development, but family history of schizophrenia did.
Proal et al. concluded family risk of schizophrenia could cause the symptoms found in users, not the marijuana itself.
We can help you get the natural treatment you need. For more information about medical cannabis as a schizophrenia treatment, check out our disorder guide. A cannabis-certified physician can answer your questions and write recommendations — search our database and book an appointment with one today.