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Can CBD Help Treat the Symptoms of Schizophrenia?

What is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a type of serious chronic mental disorder. People with this condition, experience distortions of reality, typically in the form of delusions and/or hallucinations. According to the American Psychiatric Association, it is estimated that schizophrenia affects less than one percent of the population in the United States.(1, 2, 3)

Apart from experiencing a combination of delusions and hallucinations, people with schizophrenia also cause extremely disordered behavior and thinking that affect day-to-day functioning. This prevents a person from leading a normal life.

Signs and symptoms of schizophrenia vary from person to person but usually involve hallucinations, delusions, disorganized speech, and an impaired ability to function.

Schizophrenia can develop in men and women both, regardless of their age. While men usually start to develop the symptoms of the disorder in their late teens or early 20s, women start showing the symptoms in their late 20s and early 30s.(4, 5, 6)

Some of the early symptoms of schizophrenia may include:

  • A change in concentration and focus
  • Isolating oneself from family and friends
  • Suddenly changing social groups or friends
  • Sleep issues
  • Agitation and irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Having odd ideas
  • Being suspicious about everyday things
  • Facing difficulties with school work or having poor academic performance
  • Feeling different from others

People with schizophrenia require lifelong treatment, and the earlier you seek treatment, the better the chances of getting the symptoms under control before the development of any kind of serious complications. This also helps improve the long-term outlook and quality of life.

Treating the Symptoms of Schizophrenia with CBD

Over the years, many new treatments for schizophrenia have been studied. One of these potentially positive treatments appears to be cannabidiol or CBD. Researchers are especially hopeful to discover if the many health benefits associated with cannabidiol can help with the symptoms of schizophrenia as well. Though the research on cannabidiol is limited so far, studies have still shown that it may help ease pain, anxiety and even work wonders in conditions like epilepsy.(7, 8, 9, 10, 11)

However, due to the limited research, there is still a lot that we don’t know about cannabidiol, including whether it can help treat conditions like schizophrenia or not. According to the World Health Organization, it is estimated that globally, over 20 million people live with schizophrenia, but nearly 70 percent of them do not receive the appropriate care and treatment. At the same time, many people are not able to or don’t want to take the antipsychotic medications that are usually prescribed for this mental health disorder. This is because of the major side effects antipsychotics have. This has led many people to think about potential alternatives to treating schizophrenia.(12)

There have been some human studies done on the potential of cannabidiol and schizophrenia, but still, there is only limited evidence to confirm that cannabidiol should be used to treat schizophrenia. Here’s what the research says about the use of cannabidiol and the management of the symptoms of schizophrenia.

What Does The Research Shows About CBD and Schizophrenia?

A 2021 review carried out by the Rutland Regional Medical Center in the United States found that observational studies have discovered that the use of cannabis by people with schizophrenia is often associated with a worsening of symptoms and outcomes.(13) However, since cannabis can contain over 1000 cannabinoids, and it has a greater amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) than CBD. THC is the compound that is responsible for the high one experiences from having cannabis. In order to compare the effect of each cannabinoid on schizophrenia, the review further analyzed 11 studies that were done on both CBD and THC – both together and separately. The review found mixed results from both types of cannabinoids on cognition, negative symptoms, as well as positive symptoms. So ultimately, the review concluded that the research does not recommend taking THC or CBD for the treatment of schizophrenia.

However, another study carried out by the Central Institute of Mental Health at the Heidelberg University in Germany found that in terms of cognition, CBD might prove to be helpful.(14) In this study, 42 adults with schizophrenia participated. They were treated with either amisulpride, which is an antipsychotic medication commonly prescribed in schizophrenia, or CBD. Both the treatments were found to improve cognition in the patients, but CBD had the benefit of producing fewer side effects. Nevertheless, despite the promising results, it is essential to consider that this was only a small study that mainly consisted of young men only.

Several studies have also been carried out on CBD and psychosis related to schizophrenia. Psychosis is the loss of connection with reality that is known to occur in people who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia. In 2021, a review of studies on psychosis and cannabidiol established that two out of three clinical trials found that using cannabidiol led to an improvement of psychotic symptoms. However, these trials were all carried out on a small scale, having only 36 people in the smallest study and 88 people in the most extensive study. The review further noted that large-scale clinical trials were necessary to confirm the effectiveness of cannabidiol for the treatment of schizophrenia, especially in those people who were experiencing psychosis for the very first time.(15)

Is it Safe to Use CBD to Treat Schizophrenia?

If you have schizophrenia and you are taking prescription medications for treating the disorder, it is very important that you first talk with your doctor about taking CBD before you go ahead. Many drugs are known to interact with CBD, thus slowing down the rate at which the body breaks down and processes that medication, which can lead to many dangerous or unwanted side effects.(16)

Medications that are known to interact with cannabidiol include those that come with grapefruit warnings, such as:(17)

  • Quetiapine (brand name: Seroquel)
  • Lurasidone (brand name: Latuda)
  • Ziprasidone (brand name: Geodon)

Research has also shown that THC is likely to worsen psychosis.(18) So, if you have schizophrenia and you want to try using CBD to alleviate your symptoms, it is best to use an isolate or broad-spectrum product that does not contain THC.

Furthermore, it is also necessary to know that CBD also causes certain side effects, though these are generally mild. These may include:

Is It Possible for CBD to Cause Schizophrenia?

Even though there is no research that shows that consuming CBD can cause schizophrenia, some research has suggested that prolonged exposure to THC in the teenage years may target certain signaling pathways in the brain that is associated with schizophrenia.(19)

Additionally, there is also said to be a close link between the use of THC and the development of schizophrenia in people who have a genetic predisposition to schizophrenia. However, while there is no causation found from this data, as it could also be that people who are predisposed to developing schizophrenia are also more likely to use THC.

At the same time, this does not mean that using THC in your teenage years will definitely cause schizophrenia. Medical experts do not know the exact cause of schizophrenia, but it is believed to be a combination of genetic, environmental, and biological factors.

Can CBD Use Worsen the Symptoms of Schizophrenia?

While the available evidence and studies do not show that CBD can worsen the symptoms of schizophrenia, but it is known that the usage of THC has a negative impact on the symptoms. According to a massive 2021 review that looked at 124 studies, frequently using products that contain THC can increase the likelihood of adverse effects, including psychosis.(20) This can happen regardless of whether or not you have a pre-existing mental health condition like schizophrenia.

At the same time, people who have schizophrenia or those who have an increased risk of developing schizophrenia are also at a higher risk of experiencing adverse effects from consuming THC.(21)

Remember that generally, many CBD products tend to contain a small amount of THC. This can be just up to 0.3 percent in products that are federally legal. Though this may appear to be a very small percentage, the total amount of THC that you will ultimately ingest depends on the potency of the CBD product and the dosage you take.

So the percentage of THC might increase without you coming to know of it.

Furthermore, since many over-the-counter CBD products are not regulated or even monitored by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure it is safe, it is quite possible that certain CBD products contain more THC than declared or advertised. This is why it is necessary to thoroughly research CBD products before you buy them. It is also best to only buy from reputable brands.

How To Use CBD For Schizophrenia?

How you use CBD for treating the symptoms of schizophrenia depends on the form of the product you purchase. CBD is available in the following forms:

  • Capsules: These are pre-dosed medications that you can take just like any other pill.
  • Oils and Tinctures: You can use the CBD oils by placing them under your tongue with the dropper that usually comes with the bottle. This lets the oil gets absorbed into the bloodstream quickly. You can also mix these products with your food and drinks or even combine them with certain skin care products to allow absorption through the skin.
  • Topicals: These products can include balms, lotions, and creams. These should be applied directly to your skin, and they work best for targeting specific types of pain, such as joint pain.
  • Edibles: You also get gummies and other types of candy-like CBD products. These are perfect for those who hate taking pills. But it also takes more time to start feeling the effects, so make sure you wait for some time before taking some more.

If you are new to taking CBD, it is best to begin by taking it in the smallest dose available. It is also best to consult your doctor before you start CBD. When taking ingestible CBD products, always wait for some hours before you take more, as the effects from the first dose can take some house to kick in.


Schizophrenia is a complex and chronic mental health disorder that is challenging to live with. Finding a treatment that works well for you can also be a challenging process. In such cases, it is but natural to become curious about alternative therapies like CBD for alleviating your symptoms. However, there is not enough research to conclude whether taking CBD can help people with schizophrenia or whether it is even safe to consume or it will worsen your symptoms. If you have decided on trying out CBD for schizophrenia, it is best to consult your doctor.


  1. 2022. [online] Available at: <https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/schizophrenia/what-is-schizophrenia> [Accessed 30 May 2022].
  2. Bellak, L.E., 1958. Schizophrenia: A review of the syndrome.
  3. Gottesman, I.I., 1989. Vital statistics, demography, and schizophrenia: editor’s introduction. Schizophrenia bulletin, 15(1), pp.5-7.
  4. Addington, D., Addington, J. and Patten, S., 1996. Gender and affect in schizophrenia. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. Revue Canadienne de Psychiatrie, 41(5), pp.265-268.
  5. Canuso, C.M. and Pandina, G., 2007. Gender and schizophrenia. Psychopharmacol Bull, 40(4), pp.178-190.
  6. Lee, S.H., Kim, E.Y., Kim, S. and Bae, S.M., 2010. Event-related potential patterns and gender effects underlying facial affect processing in schizophrenia patients.
  7. Neuroscience research, 67(2), pp.172-180.
  8. Gray, R.A. and Whalley, B.J., 2020. The proposed mechanisms of action of CBD in epilepsy. Epileptic Disorders, 22, pp.S10-S15.
  9. Cilio, M.R., Thiele, E.A. and Devinsky, O., 2014. The case for assessing cannabidiol in epilepsy. Epilepsia, 55(6), pp.787-790.
  10. Boyaji, S., Merkow, J., Elman, R.N.M., Kaye, A.D., Yong, R.J. and Urman, R.D., 2020. The role of cannabidiol (CBD) in chronic pain management: an assessment of current evidence. Current pain and headache reports, 24(2), pp.1-6.
  11. Urits, I., Gress, K., Charipova, K., Habib, K., Lee, D., Lee, C., Jung, J.W., Kassem, H., Cornett, E., Paladini, A. and Varrassi, G., 2020. Use of cannabidiol (CBD) for the treatment of chronic pain. Best Practice & Research Clinical Anaesthesiology, 34(3), pp.463-477.
  12. Skelley, J.W., Deas, C.M., Curren, Z. and Ennis, J., 2020. Use of cannabidiol in anxiety and anxiety-related disorders. Journal of the American Pharmacists Association, 60(1), pp.253-261.
  13. Who.int. 2022. Schizophrenia. [online] Available at: <https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/schizophrenia> [Accessed 31 May 2022].
  14. Ahmed, S., Roth, R.M., Stanciu, C.N. and Brunette, M.F., 2021. The impact of THC and CBD in schizophrenia: a systematic review. Frontiers in psychiatry, p.1225.
  15. Leweke, F.M., Rohleder, C., Gerth, C.W., Hellmich, M., Pukrop, R. and Koethe, D., 2021. Cannabidiol and amisulpride improve cognition in acute schizophrenia in an explorative, double-blind, active-controlled, randomized clinical trial. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 12.
  16. Chesney, E., Oliver, D. and McGuire, P., 2021. Cannabidiol (CBD) as a novel treatment in the early phases of psychosis. Psychopharmacology, pp.1-12.
  17. Balachandran, P., Elsohly, M. and Hill, K.P., 2021. Cannabidiol interactions with medications, illicit substances, and alcohol: a comprehensive review. Journal of general internal medicine, 36(7), pp.2074-2084.
  18. Seden, K., Dickinson, L., Khoo, S. and Back, D., 2010. Grapefruit-drug interactions. Drugs, 70(18), pp.2373-2407.
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  21. Sorkhou, M., Bedder, R.H. and George, T.P., 2021. The behavioral sequelae of cannabis use in healthy people: a systematic review. Frontiers in psychiatry, 12, p.122.
  22. Patel, S., Khan, S., Saipavankumar, M. and Hamid, P., 2020. The association between cannabis use and schizophrenia: causative or curative? A systematic review. Cureus, 12(7).

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 11, 2022

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