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Scientists discover cannabis extract that might fight psychosis

A new study from King’s College London reveals that just one dose of cannabidiol can reduce the brain function abnormalities observed in people suffering from psychosis. The data is the first evidence to reveal how cannabidiol reduces psychotic symptoms.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-intoxicating compound that is in cannabis. A purified form of the compound was recently licensed by the USA as a treatment for rare childhood epilepsies.

Not only that, a 2017 study revealed its antipsychotic properties, although how it alleviates psychosis has been a mystery until now.

“The mainstay of current treatment for people with psychosis are drugs that were first discovered in the 1950s and unfortunately do not work for everyone,” said Sagnik Bhattacharyya from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN). “Our results have started unravelling the brain mechanisms of a new drug that works in a completely different way to traditional anti-psychotics.”

Thanks to the new data, Bhattacharyya and his team are now launching the first multi-centre, large-scale trial to determine if cannabidiol can treat young people at risk of developing psychosis.

“There is an urgent need for a safe treatment for young people at risk of psychosis,” Bhattacharyya said. “One of the main advantages of cannabidiol is that it is safe and seems to be very well tolerated, making it in some ways an ideal treatment. If successful, this trial will provide definitive proof of cannabidiol’s role as an antipsychotic treatment and pave the way for use in the clinic.”

The findings were published in JAMA Psychiatry.

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