Schizophrenia is a psychotic disorder characterized by its impairment in social and vocational functioning. The disorder has also been shown to reduce lifespan by 15 to 25 years. The symptoms of schizophrenia can be organized into 3 groups: positive (altered reality, hallucinations), negative (flat affect), and altered cognition (problems with attention, or working memory). The early treatments of Schizophrenia began with housing the patients in a psychiatrist institution, but the introduction of antipsychotics created hope that there would be not only treatment, but a cure may be found. Antipsychotics target, block dopamine D2 receptors and secondary depolarization. The full effects of the treatments due to their mechanism of action may not be prominent until several weeks have passed. Antipsychotic medications reduce positive symptoms, but minimally affect negative symptoms. They also have side effects termed extrapyramidal side effects (EPS) or tardive dyskinesia. In recent years, atypical antipsychotics have replaced traditional antipsychotic medications. Atypical treatments are thought to be more effective, with fewer symptoms such as EPS.
Atypical medications are not the ending place for schizophrenia symptoms, researchers are working diligently to find other treatments. Research has begun to rear its head towards cannabinoids. Cannabis has already been negatively linked to schizophrenia: research has found that schizophrenics have a higher use of cannabis than healthier individuals. Marijuana has also been found to trigger psychotic episodes in schizophrenic patients. So why is research focusing on cannabis for treatment of schizophrenia? It has been shown that THC, a compound in marijuana, is the trigger of the negative responses in schizophrenic patients. Marijuana has been shown to have medical properties in phytocannabinoids present in the plant, such a THC, cannabidiol (CBD), cannabigerol (CBG), and THCV. Focus has been shown on CBD and its medicinal properties, specifically alleviating positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia. CBD resembles atypical antipsychotics’ effects, and it does not contain any extra-pyramidal side effects. Research is vastly expanding its views, past social ideals, to look towards marijuana’s medicinal properties in the treatment of many disorders including schizophrenia.
Tandon R., Anti-psychotics in the Treatment of Schizophrenia: An Overview Physicians postgraduate press, J Clin Psychiatry 2011