The next step, already underway, is a large-scale human trial to replicate the results and determine if CBD is a viable treatment. If successful, the drug would be immediately differentiated from other meds on the market—including some that have been around since the 1950s—that produce inconsistent results. Some of the most common meds also have notoriously severe side effects, including muscle tremors and overpowering sedation.
This was a small study of 33 participants who were experiencing psychotic symptoms. A smaller group of healthy participants served as a control group. Half the psychosis group was given one 600 mg oral dose of CBD (a dose that was “previously effective in established psychosis” according to the study), the other half received an identical placebo capsule. The control group didn’t receive any drug. Then all of the participants completed a memory task designed to engage three brain areas that have been linked to the onset of psychosis (specifically the striatum, medial temporal cortex, and midbrain) while their brains were examined with an fMRI scanner.
The scans showed abnormal activity in the brains of the participants experiencing symptoms, as compared to the healthy control group – that much was expected. But the brains of those who had taken a dose of CBD showed less severe abnormalities than the brains of those who had taken a placebo, suggesting that the compound was “resetting” abnormal activity in the key brain areas.
The study did have limitations. Aside from being a small study with a methodology unable to account for every factor that might influence the outcome, the researchers also noted that they can’t be sure the results weren’t caused by “the rapid changes in cerebral perfusion that are known to occur with a single dose of psychoactive drugs.” In other words, they may have witnessed a short-term effect that won’t last. Quoting from the study: “It is also unclear whether the effects of CBD will persist after longer-term dosing.”
While psychosis is most often associated with schizophrenia, it actually affects a much larger segment of the population. At least 100,000 people a year experience their first onset of psychosis in the U.S., according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
Cannabidiol (CBD), the non-intoxicating compound in marijuana, continues drawing attention as a potential treatment for disorders and illnesses ranging from epilepsy to cancer. Now a new brain imaging study suggests that a single dose of CBD can reduce symptoms of psychosis by “resetting” activity in three brain areas. If replicable, the study offers the first evidence-based explanation for how CBD works in the brain to counteract psychosis, with results that could help generate new treatments.
“The results have started unravelling the brain mechanisms of a new drug that works in a completely different way to traditional anti-psychotics,” said the study’s lead author Dr. Sagnik Bhattacharyya from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College, London.
Psychosis is not a single condition or disorder, but is rather a symptom of other disorders characterized by detachment from reality. Seeing, hearing or believing things that aren’t real, including hallucinations, is typical of a psychotic episode. While the exact causes of psychosis aren’t known, it’s thought to be triggered by mental illness, trauma, substance abuse and extreme stress. Even lack of sleep can spark an episode.
Aripiprazole and risperidone are currently the drugs of choice in treating schizophrenia. The involvement of the endocannabinoid system in the neuronal circuits of the brain, and its ability to greatly affect the emotions of the person shows that cannabidiol has the potential ability to treat schizophrenia. CBD helps treat the cognitive impairments in the patients suffering from schizophrenia and thus helps in symptomatic treatment.
The endocannabinoid system of the central nervous system appears to be playing a promising role in averting the traumatic brain injury due to various causes. In particular, several cannabinoids, above all CBD, which do not bind cannabinoid receptors, appear to be the promising molecules to treat traumatic brain injury.
At first, “Cannabinoid” was a collective term assigned to the set of naturally occurring aromatic hydrocarbon extracts obtained from the Cannabis plant. But, due to the increase in the acceptance of the medicinal use of marijuana, cannabinoids nowadays refer to a diverse set of therapeutic substances that have pharmacologic actions that closely resemble that of the plant-derived cannabinoids.
Traumatic brain injuries are heterogeneous in their clinical presentation. The signs and symptoms of a traumatic brain injury can be very vast. The onset of the symptoms may be as sudden as on the spot and time of the injury, or may not appear until weeks following the injury. The symptoms may not appear at all or maybe misleading as people may look fine even though they may act or feel differently. Headache and dizziness accompanied by confusion and fatigue may start immediately after an injury, but subsides over time. There might also be emotional symptoms, the victim might develop frustration and irritability in the general behavior later on after the injury. The severity of the symptoms involved in traumatic brain injury depends on the extent of injury to the head. Due to severe or repeated blows to the head, the injury might result in chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, also known as CTE disorder, may cause a wide range of problems in the victim, which may include motor disorders related to speech causing communication and cognition disabilities, irritation, and psychiatric disorders such as depression. The increased intracranial pressure resulting from fluid leakage into the brain tissue due to intracranial hemorrhage may lead to an overall reduction in cerebral blood flow which ultimately leads to necrosis in the tissue. The breakdown of the cerebrovascular endothelium due to the injury causes the dysfunction of the blood-brain barrier. Extracranial manifestations of traumatic brain injury can also result in TBI. Among them, pulmonary disabilities are the most common.
CBD for Parkinsonism
Alzheimer’s Disease is a disorder caused due to the gradual degeneration and the resultant death of cerebral cortical cells, and the effect of the death of these cells is visible in the form of dementia in the patient. The most common symptom of AD is memory loss, which may be so severe that personal neglect occurs in some of the patients. This disease may also lead to impaired cognitive abilities of a person. Acquired cognitive disabilities caused by this disease have a diverse effect on the social life, overall behavior, and day to day activity of the patients.
The cannabinoids (extracts of the Cannabis plant) act by binding to specific receptors in the brain tissue. These receptors are called cannabinoid receptors. These receptors are present on the cells throughout our central nervous system, and they are sometimes also called the CB1 and CB2 receptors. These receptors directly affect the function of the cell they are on, the psychic effects experienced after consuming marijuana have a rapid onset. Such receptors are found predominantly in the brain in the hippocampus and cerebellum. The psychoactive cannabinoids such as THC result in euphoria, enhancement of sensory perception, increased heart rate, decreased pain stimuli, and difficulties in concentrating on specific tasks. The high effect of THC is due to the rapid binding and action of THC on these receptors, which most commonly results in altered perception and sometimes hallucinations.
The endogenous cannabinoid system, or more commonly known as the endocannabinoid system, serves to regulate a wide array of physiological and psychological processes and possesses considerable potential targets for the potential treatment of numerous disease states. The endocannabinoid system is just another neurotransmitter system in our bodies just like the acetylcholine system or adrenaline system. The endocannabinoid system is composed of neurotransmitters known as endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids are one of the most widely known, potent, and versatile signaling molecules known up to now. This is probably possible due to the two receptors (i.e., CB1 and CB2 receptors) and enzymes regulating their endogenous ligands. Cannabidiol, CBD, binds to these receptors and then alters the function of these receptors and the resulting actions of the body on which these receptors and their ligands affect. CB1 receptors are highly expressed on neurons in the central nervous system (CNS) in the inner brain areas such as the cerebral cortex and basal ganglia. CB2 receptors are most commonly are expressed on immune cells, microglia in the CNS, and macrophages, monocytes, CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, and B cells in the periphery. Additionally, CB2 receptors are also expressed on neurons, but to an extent that is almost as negligible as compared to the CB1 receptors. The abundant distribution of CB1 and CB2 receptors throughout the brain and periphery accounts for their ability to impact a diverse variety of physiological and psychological processes and other emotions such as memory, anxiety, and pain perception.
CBD as an anti-dote for Brain Damage
The in vivo studies pursued a more proactive approach toward the healing and anti-inflammatory properties of CBD. This included the administration of CBD to the right dorsal hippocampus of a mouse, supplemented with a component human alpha beta peptide, a chemical found in the human central nervous system. The studies showed that CBD actively inhibited the expression of glial fibrillary acidic protein due to its effect on the mRNA encoding GFAP. The CBD administered to the mouse also actively inhibited the expression of several inflammation-causing factors such as interleukin 1-beta protein. The healing properties of phytocannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD) for Alzheimer’s disease, and their effect in controlling and preventing further degeneration from happening in the central nervous system to prevent dementia were well pronounced.
The primary mechanism due to which CBD can be used to avert brain damage due to the traumatic brain injury lies in the vast anti-inflammatory properties of the CBD. CBD averts inflammation due to various ways. One of the factors through which CBD can avoid inflammation is the dysfunction of the cytokines (chemical substances in the body which serve to mediate inflammation through promoting it). Endocannabinoids, particularly nonpsychoactive agents such as CBD, affect the cytokine structure and biology of various cell systems. Antiproliferative effects of endocannabinoids on cancer cells have been studied well, and their effect on stopping the inflammation is large. As inflammation particularly spreads vastly after a tissue injury due to contusion or other contact causes, so the rate of inflammation surrounding the brain injury can be particularly dangerous, as it causes necrotic cell death in the tissue on a large scale. This cell death proves fatal to certain brain areas that are hit directly by the injury. So, in the case, if traumatic brain injury, stopping the inflammation gains prime importance, as it reduces the chance of the damage spread. The microglia, or the macrophages that exist in the brain tissue, have a very important role in inflammation. Moreover, there are cells in the brain tissue called astrocytes. The astrocytes serve to nourish the brain tissue under normal circumstances, providing vital nutrients to the neurons thus playing an important role in tissue growth. However, under traumatic brain injury where the brain tissue becomes necrotic, the astrocytes have been found secreting certain cytokines along with other chemicals such as nitric oxide that mediate inflammation.