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CBD Oil Compound May Help Treat Schizophrenia
New research paves the way for a new schizophrenia treatment, by testing the effect of CBD oil on rats. The study suggests that the hemp-derived substance may improve schizophrenia-specific cognitive impairment, without any of the side effects generated by current medication.
Schizophrenia affects about 1.1 percent of the American population – or approximately 3.5 million adults. The symptoms are wide-ranging and vary between patients. These include so-called positive symptoms – that is, symptoms that do not appear in healthy individuals – negative symptoms, called negative because they are a disruption to normal behavior, and finally, cognitive symptoms.
Behavior displayed by sufferers of cognitive symptoms includes difficulty paying attention or concentrating, trouble making decisions, as well as problems with comprehending and using new information. While currently available medication effectively treats positive symptoms – such as hallucinations and delusions – it is less effective in treating cognitive symptoms and negative symptoms, such as reduced speaking, reduced social interaction, and blunted feelings.
For some patients, antipsychotic drugs can cause side effects, including muscle spasms, restlessness, tremors, as well as drowsiness, or dizziness. Other prescribed medication can lead to weight gain, metabolic changes, an increased risk of diabetes, and high cholesterol levels. This is why new research has looked at the potential of CBD oil for treating some of the symptoms of schizophrenia.
The Therapeutic Potential of CBD Oil
CBD can affect learning, memory, and attention, which suggests that the compound could help manage cognitive symptoms more effectively and with fewer side effects than medication currently available.
The researchers – led by Dr. Katrina Green from the University of Wollongong, Australia – first discovered the therapeutic value of CBD oil when they previously conducted a review of 27 studies.
“From this review, we found that CBD will not improve learning and memory in healthy brains, but may improve aspects of learning and memory in illnesses associated with cognitive impairment, including Alzheimer’s disease, as well as neurological and neuro-inflammatory disorders,” explains Dr. Green.
“Evidence suggests that CBD is neuroprotective and can reduce cognitive impairment associated with use of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive component of cannabis,” Dr. Green adds.
Based on this evidence, Ph.D. candidate Ashleigh Osborne, together with Dr. Green – who is her supervisor – set out to examine if CBD can reduce cognitive impairment in rodents.
CBD Oil Improved Cognition and Social Interaction in Rats
The team – made up of Osborne, Dr. Green, senior professor Xu-Feng Huang, and Ph.D. candidate Ilijana Babic – used a prenatal infection model to investigate the effect of chronic CBD treatment on cognition and social interaction. First, they infected the pregnant rats in the 15th day of gestation with polyinosinic-polycytidilic acid – a compound commonly used to generate psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and autism in rats.
Then, they injected the male rats offspring with 10 milligrams per kilogram of CBD for 3 weeks. Dr. Green and her team measured the body weight, food, and water intake of the offspring every week. They tested the rats’ cognition and working memory using rewarded alternation in T-maze tests and the Novel Object Recognition test. Additionally, they tested sociability using a social interaction test.
“We found that CBD was able to restore recognition and working memory, as well as social behavior to normal levels. These findings are interesting because they suggest that CBD may be able to treat some of the symptoms of schizophrenia that are seemingly resistant to existing medications. In addition, CBD treatment did not alter body weight or food intake, which are common side effects of antipsychotic drug treatment.“
The researchers caution against the use of both recreational and medical marijuana derived products for the treatment of schizophrenia however,, as the THC in these products can intensify schizophrenic symptoms. Although the results were encouraging, the scientists noted that further testing is required to discover if CBD oil has the same therapeutic effect in people.
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