Cannabidiol as a Potential New Type of an Antipsychotic. A Critical Review of the Evidence

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“There is urgent need for the development of mechanistically different and less side-effect prone antipsychotic compounds.

The endocannabinoid system has been suggested to represent a potential new target in this indication.

Although, results from animal studies are inconsistent to a certain extent and seem to depend on behavioral paradigms, treatment duration and experimental conditions applied, cannabidiol has shown antipsychotic properties in both rodents and rhesus monkeys.

After some individual treatment attempts, the first randomized, double-blind controlled clinical trial demonstrated that in acute schizophrenia cannabidiol exerts antipsychotic properties comparable to the antipsychotic drug amisulpride while being accompanied by a superior, placebo-like side effect profile.

As the clinical improvement by cannabidiol was significantly associated with elevated anandamide levels, it appears likely that its antipsychotic action is based on mechanisms associated with increased anandamide concentrations.

The antipsychotic potential of cannabidiol has been investigated in various behavioral paradigms and different animal models of aspects of schizophrenia.

Although the results were partially inconsistent, they indicate that cannabidiol treatment ameliorates impairments of PPI, social interaction behavior and cognition in rodents and rhesus monkeys.

In addition, individual treatment attempts as well as one randomized, double-blind clinical study, demonstrated the antipsychotic potential of cannabidiol and its superior side effect profile compared to conventional antipsychotics. In addition, a recently conducted clinical trial investigating cannabidiol as an add-on medication showed promising results, although these have not yet been published in a peer reviewed process.

Obviously more clinical trials are needed to substantiate the current findings, and in particular to investigate long-term efficacy and safety in larger cohorts.

However, cannabidiol seems to represent a mechanistically different and less side-effect prone antipsychotic compound for the treatment of schizophrenia, even though the underlying pharmacological mechanisms are still under debate.

Nevertheless, the association between increased anandamide levels and reduced psychotic symptoms in schizophrenic patients treated with cannabidiol, points to a potentially new antipsychotic mechanism of action involving anandamide.”

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Cannabidiol Mellows Out Resurgent Sodium Current

“Cannabidiol has received abundant media attention as a potential therapy for intractable epilepsy, based mainly on anecdotal evidence.

These findings suggest that cannabidiol could be exerting its anticonvulsant effects, at least in part, through its actions on voltage-gated sodium channels, and resurgent current may be a promising therapeutic target for the treatment of epilepsy syndromes.”

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Anti-excitotoxic effects of cannabidiol are partly mediated by enhancement of NCX2 and NCX3 expression in animal model of cerebral ischemia.

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“Excitotoxicity and imbalance of sodium and calcium homeostasis trigger pathophysiologic processes in cerebral ischemia which can accelerate neuronal death.

Neuroprotective role of cannabidiol (CBD), one of the main non-psychoactive phytocannabinoids of the cannabis plant, has attracted attention of many researchers in the neurodegenerative diseases studies.

The present investigation was designed to determine whether cannabidiol can alleviate the severity of ischemic damages and if it is able to exert its anti-excitotoxic effects through sodium and calcium regulation.

The present results indicate that administration of cannabidiol (100 and 200 ng/rat) in the MCAO-induced cerebral ischemia caused a remarkable reduction in neurological deficit, infarction, brain edema, and BBB permeability in comparison with the vehicle group. Up-regulation of NCX2 and NCX3 in cannabidiol-received groups was also observed.

These findings support the view that the reduction of ischemic injuries elicited by cannabidiol can be at least partly due to the enhancement of NCX protein expression and its cerebro-protective role in those cerebral territories supplied by MCA.”

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State of the evidence: Cannabinoids and cancer pain-A systematic review.

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“Cannabinoids are widely used to alleviate intractable symptoms such as pain, nausea, and muscle spasticity. The purpose of this review was to ascertain the current state of the science regarding use of cannabinoids for cancer pain.


Eight randomized control trials met the inclusion criteria for review. Most trials found analgesic effects from cannabinoids when compared to placebo, although not all associations reached statistical significance. The analgesic effects of cannabinoids were also limited by dose-dependent side effects. Side effects most commonly reported were changes in cognition, sedation, and dizziness.


There is evidence that cannabinoids are effective adjuvants for cancer pain not completely relieved by opioid therapy, but there is a dearth of high-quality studies to support a stronger conclusion. Cannabinoids appear to be safe in low and medium doses. Methodological limitations of the trials limited the ability to make sound conclusions. Further research is warranted before efficacy, safety, and utility of cannabinoids for cancer pain can be determined.”

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Modulation of Type-1 and Type-2 Cannabinoid Receptors by Saffron in a Rat Model of Retinal Neurodegeneration.

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“Experimental studies demonstrated that saffron (Crocus sativus) given as a dietary supplement counteracts the effects of bright continuous light (BCL) exposure in the albino rat retina, preserving both morphology and function and probably acting as a regulator of programmed cell death.

The purpose of this study was to ascertain whether the neuroprotective effect of saffron on rat retina exposed to BCL is associated with a modulation of the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

These data suggest that BCL modulates only distinct ECS elements like CB1 and CB2, and that saffron and cannabinoid receptors could share the same mechanism in order to afford retinal protection.”

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Overactivation of cannabinoid receptor type 1 in rostral ventrolateral medulla promotes cardiovascular responses in spontaneously hypertensive rats.


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“Stimulation of cannabinoid type 1 (CB1) receptor in the rostral ventrolateral medulla (RVLM) increases renal sympathetic nerve activity (RSNA) and blood pressure (BP) in rats.

Thus, we hypothesized that abnormal expression of CB1 receptor in the RVLM may play a critical role in the pathogenesis of essential hypertension.

Taken together, our results suggested that alterations of CB1 receptor desensitization in the RVLM may play a role in the pathogenesis of essential hypertension.”

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Medical Cannabis – another piece in the mosaic of autoimmunity?

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“Legalization of cannabis’ medicinal use is rapidly increasing worldwide, raising the need to evaluate medical implications of cannabis. Currently evidence supports cannabis and its active ingredients as an immune-modulating agents, affecting T-cells, B-cells, Monocytes and Microglia-cells, causing an overall reduction in pro-inflammatory cytokine expression and an increase in anti-inflammatory cytokines. Due to the supporting evidence of cannabinoids as an immune-modulating agent, research focusing on cannabinoids and autoimmunity has emerged. Several clinical trials in multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease and fibromyalgia suggest cannabis’ effectiveness as an immune-modulator. However, contradicting results and lack of large scale clinical trials obscure these results. Though lacking clinical research, in-vitro and in-vivo experiments in rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes type 1 and systemic sclerosis, demonstrate a correlation between disease activity and cannabinoids.”

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Role of cannabinoid receptor 1 in human adipose tissue for lipolysis regulation and insulin resistance.

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“We recently showed that the peripheral cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CNR1) gene is upregulated by the synthetic glucocorticoid dexamethasone.

CNR1 is highly expressed in the central nervous system and has been a drug target for the treatment of obesity.

Here we explore the role of peripheral CNR1 in states of insulin resistance in human adipose tissue.

CNR1 is upregulated in states of type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance.

Furthermore, CNR1 is involved in glucocorticoid-regulated lipolysis.

Peripheral CNR1 could be an interesting drug target in type 2 diabetes and dyslipidemia.”

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A Science Based Evaluation of Cannabis and Cancer

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“The irritant properties of all smoke will naturally tend to promote a pro-inflammatory immune response with the corresponding production of potentially carcinogenic free radicals. However, cannabis promotes immune deviation to an anti-inflammatory Th2 response via immune-system specific CB2 receptors. Thus, the natural pharmacological properties of marijuana’s cannabinoids, that are not present in tobacco smoke, would minimize potential irritant initiated carcinogenesis. In contrast, the pharmacological activities of tobacco smoke would tend to amplify its carcinogenic potential by inhibiting the death of genetically damaged cells. Together these observations support the epidemiological study of the Kaiser Foundation that did not find cannabis smoking to be associated with cancer incidence. Additionally, the demonstrated cancer killing activities of cannabinoids has been ignored. Cannabinoids have been shown to kill some leukemia and lymphoma, breast and prostate, pheochromocytoma, glioma and skin cancer cells in cell culture and in animals.”

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Highest-resolution model to date of brain receptor behind marijuana’s high

“Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center report the most detailed 3-D structure to date of the brain receptor that binds and responds to the chemical at the root of marijuana’s high.

Their high-resolution structure of the human cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) and its binding site for the chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) should lead to a better understanding of how marijuana affects the brain.

The research also could aid discovery of new treatments for conditions that target the receptor, said Dr. Daniel Rosenbaum, Assistant Professor of Biophysics and Biochemistry at UT Southwestern.”

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