What is Schizophrenia?
People who have schizophrenia find it difficult to distinguish between what is real and what is imaginary. Because of this, schizophrenia patients can sometimes suffer from hallucinations and irrational thoughts. As of now, there is no known cure for the disorder, so patients are required to use medication throughout their entire lives.
How can marijuana help?
For one third of all schizophrenic patients, current pharmaceutical drugs do not provide adequate relief for their symptoms. Luckily, thanks to some breakthrough research regarding marijuana’s effects on mental health, there is strong evidence suggesting that marijuana is capable of providing “mental homeostasis” for patients with the disorder. The human body’s endocannabinoid system is filled with receptors that can be activated or blocked to achieve a host of different effects. It became clear that the endocannabinoid system played a role in managing schizophrenic symptoms after scientists discovered that schizophrenic patients had higher levels of anandamide compared to healthy patients. Anandamide is an endocannabinoid that is produced by the body and binds to CB1 receptors, acting almost identically to the phytocannabinoid THC. Further research concluded that schizophrenic patients who had higher levels of anandamide than their peers had less intense symptoms - proving that the endocannabinoid system is capable of acknowledging and treating mental disorders. Although endocannabinoids are able to provide some relief on their own, phytocannabinoids (cannabinoids derived from cannabis) can substantially strengthen the overall medicinal effect. In particular, CBD has been proven by multiple studies to have the most promising results. In a double-blind, randomized clinical trial, scientists compared the medical efficacy of CBD, a non-psychoactive phytocannabinoid, and amisulpride, a potent anti-psychotic pharmaceutical. Their results showed that, “Either treatment was safe and led to significant clinical improvement, but cannabidiol displayed a markedly superior side-effect profile.” The study also went on to conclude that CBD also significantly increased anandamide levels, which had a direct association with clinical improvement. Other studies like, Cannabinoids and Schizophrenia: Therapeutic Prospects, determined that cannabinoid treatment (specifically CBD treatment) can be used in conjunction with pharmaceuticals to provide a synergistic effect and improve the treatment’s success rate. For those who are still skeptical about the endocannabinoid’s role in managing schizophrenic symptoms, a study titled, The Effects of Cannabis Use On Neurocognition In Schizophrenia: A Meta-Analysis, evaluated the results of 8 previous studies done on the matter, only to decisively conclude that marijuana was superior at improving cognitive performance in schizophrenic patients. More research is still needed, but it is abundantly clear that marijuana should be an option for schizophrenic patients who are looking to manage their condition.