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Currently, the standard treatment for many moderate to severe mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD, and schizophrenia, is a combination of psychotherapy and medication. If you’ve been wishing to find an alternative to medications without hefty side effects, CBD may be the answer, especially when it comes to psychosis.

Every year, approximately 100,000 young adults and adolescents in the United States experience first-episode psychosis. Three out of 100 individuals will experience psychosis at some time during their lives. Realistically, there is no one reason for the development of mental health disorders. There are many factors that lead to mental health issues. Some include:

  • biology
  • stress
  • toxic exposure
  • brain chemistry
  • substance abuse
  • genetics
  • trauma
  • family history
  • nutrition

Under the umbrella category of mental health resides a diverse number of disorders and psychological states. Dwight K. Blake, Editor in Chief of American Marijuana, and a Mental Health counselor explains:

Mental health is our cognitive, behavioral, and emotional well-being. We can enjoy life, balance activities and efforts, and achieve psychological resilience. It also affects our relationship with everyone around us, including our relationship with our physical health. If left untreated [the first sign and symptoms of mental illness], an individual will gradually struggle emotionally, socially, and psychologically which could hugely affect their daily living skills.

For example, holding a full-time job can become a difficult commitment to sustain, long term. It is estimated that between 5 and 15 percent of people with psychosis are employed. They are 6 or 7 times more likely to be unemployed than the general population. As a result of unemployment, feelings of low self-esteem, social isolation, and poverty may arise.

CBD For Psychosis Symptoms

The exciting news is that there are natural remedies available for alleviating the uncomfortable symptoms. On the upside, of the healing spectrum, Cannabidiol (CBD) has gained popularity for treating psychotic episodes. Current research is being investigated about the positive benefits of CBD for psychosis.

Elizabeth Moriarty, Clinical Herbalist, CEO and Formulator & Product Developer at Luminary Medicine Company, describes cannabinoids in this way:

It may help to think about cannabinoids as nutrients. It makes sense, as we’re increasingly seeing evidence that many of the conditions for which people use CBD most successfully are the result, at least in part, of endocannabinoid deficiencies. In the case of conditions that include agitation and mental anguish as symptoms, the biochemical impacts of CBD use may well assist in reducing anxiety and diminishing corresponding confused thinking.

As Elizabeth Moriarty explained, the core essence is to approach CBD from a nutritional aspect and implement it as a maintenance lifestyle approach.

How CBD Interacts With The Body

CBD, otherwise known as cannabidiol, is one of more than 400 active compounds in the cannabis plant. Research keeps piling up on CBD’s many healing benefits. And the fact that CBD doesn’t get you “high” makes it a safe option. The World Health Organization states:

CBD does not produce the effects that are typically seen with cannabinoids such as THC. Across a number of controlled and open-label trials CBD of the potential therapeutic effects of CBD, it is generally well-tolerated, with a good safety profile.

CBD works with the body’s biological endocannabinoid system (ECS) to bring balance and return the body to homeostasis. The system recognizes and responds to the phytocannabinoid cannabidiol. The endocannabinoid system produces its own cannabinoids, which bind to cannabinoid receptor type 1 and 2. CB1 and CB2 receptors are located in the brain, nervous system, and immune system. 

CB1 receptor plays a role in brain function. Existing in high numbers in the brain, CB1 is directly connected to the hypothalamus, hippocampus, and amygdala. This receptor is in communication with the central nervous system, gut microbiome, connective tissues, and glands.

The systemic purpose of CB1 includes regulating certain aspects of mood, pain, appetite, and cognition.

CB2 Receptors

CB2 is the peripheral receptor for cannabinoids. These receptors are found in the organs, such as the spleen, tonsils, thymus gland, and immune B and T cells. Modulating immune cell functions, CB2  may offer therapeutic strategies, in decreasing inflammatory conditions. The receptor prompts macrophages (white blood cells to ingest foreign material) and destroy beta-amyloid protein. Beta-amyloid protein is a membrane protein that is essential for neural growth and repair. If the beta-amyloid protein is corrupted, it may cause loss of thought and plaque build up in the brain. Furthermore, with CB2 activation by cannabinoids, decreasing inflammatory cell activation, in turn, may slow the progression of disease. 

Cannabidiol contains anti-inflammatory properties that strengthen the body’s own endocannabinoid system. Popularity is rising for the therapeutic benefits of CBD to treat numerous problems, including psychosis. According to the Consumer Reports January 2019 survey of more than 4,000 Americans, it has been reported more than a quarter of the people in the U.S. have tried CBD. One in 7 of these individuals use it daily.

Elizabeth Moriarty, Clinical Herbalist, says:

Also, the use of isolated cannabinoids such as CBD simply does not carry the same degree of the beneficial effect that we find with full-spectrum extracts of high-cannabinoid plants. In fact, research not only supports the use of full-spectrum extracts, but it also shows that using ratios of cannabinoids and terpenes that do not exist in the plant is less effective than using the ratios that nature designed. In other words, less is more.

Moriarty’s research proves it is imperative upon the quality and selection of full-spectrum extracts to be consciously aware of the best-suited product of investment.

CBD In Action

A new study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that CBD administered to patients with schizophrenia with their regular prescription, for 6 weeks, has proven rates of success. Patients in this study report a reduction in psychotic behavior which deems them improved.

This study demonstrates just one way that CBD shows promise in becoming a complementary treatment option for those with schizophrenia. This is one study of many pointing out the potential of CBD in mental health treatment

CBD For Psychosis And The Brain

Psychosis describes a group of symptoms that alter a person’s perception, thoughts, mood, and behavior. Psychotic episodes are often described as “a break from reality.” Psychosis often begins during teenage years and early twenties for both men and women. About 1 in 100 people will experience a first episode during the ages of 18-24 years old. Although scientists are not definitive on the exact cause of psychosis, there are elements that have been reported to onset these episodes. Studies have reported that due to psychosis, the structure of the brain experiences chemical depletion, which can cause separation from reality

A combination of influences that contribute to the onset of a psychotic episode are:

  • Neurotransmitters, especially serotonin and dopamine, experience irregularities in sending messages to the cells, resulting in mental disruption. 
  • The environment, such as chronic stress and substance abuse, can increase the risk of onset.
  • Overuse of alcohol, sedatives, sleep medications can trigger psychosis when a person stops using them. 
  • Medical problems, such as nutritional deficiencies, brain trauma, or lupus.

Poor diet, poor metabolic health, and premature mortality are highest with people with schizophrenia. Certain nutrient deficiencies are more common — and of greater concern — in those with schizophrenia. Folate and B12 deficiencies have an association not only with the risk of schizophrenia but also with symptom severity. Vitamin D is another impactful vitamin that correlates with schizophrenia onset. 

Vitamin D And Schizophrenia

The link between vitamin D deficiency and the development of schizophrenia has been researched among patients of all ages around the globe. Vitamin D deficient participants were 2.16 times more likely to have schizophrenia than vitamin D sufficient participants. This emphasizes the critical need to address the nutritional aspect of the individual and re-building the gut microbiome, in tandem with mental health.

One meta-analysis reviewed 19 studies published between 1988 and 2013 and found a strong association between vitamin D deficiency and schizophrenia. Of the 2,804 participants from these studies, over 65 percent of the participants with schizophrenia were vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D deficient participants were 2.16 times more likely to have schizophrenia than vitamin D sufficient participants.

Traumatic brain injury may also contribute to the onset of a psychosis episode due to a genetic vulnerability of both frontal and temporal brain region abnormalities. Each individual’s symptoms will vary, depending upon the contributing factors to the development of psychosis. 

Editor’s Note: Continue reading our two-part series on using CBD for psychosis symptoms.

MeltMel T is a freelance, investigative writer from New York. She has an energetic pull to discover the deeper meaning of emotions and psychoneuroimmunology. You can find her communicating with animals, working on production sets, a student of martial arts, and stealthily capturing wildlife in a photo.

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