A shelf stacked with medical models of the human brain.

Neil Conway

A study investigating the effectiveness of cannabidiol (CBD) in treating psychosis has found preliminary evidence that CBD helps to “reset” certain sections of the brain adversely affected by psychosis.

The double-blind, randomized clinical study compared 33 individuals at high risk of psychosis with 19 healthy control individuals. The control group was given nothing, but the other 33 participants were separated into a placebo and test group – the test group was given a single oral dose of 600 mg of CBD.

All three groups were then put through a regiment of memory tests while undergoing a functional MRI. Researchers tracked the CBD’s effects on three sections of the brain: the striatum, medial temporal cortex, and midbrain.

“In each of these regions, the level of activation following administration of cannabidiol to patients at clinical high risk of psychosis was intermediate between the response in healthy control individuals who did not receive any drug and in patients at clinical high risk receiving placebo.

“… These results suggest that cannabidiol may normalize dysfunction in these brain regions, which are critically implicated in psychosis, and this may underlie its therapeutic effects in psychosis.” – Dr. Sagnik Bhattacharyya, the study’s lead author

Researchers noted some limitations to their own study, including the small sample size and uncertainty about whether CBD would remain effective over longer periods, as opposed to the single dose used in this study.

Next steps include a much larger human trial.

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