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It’s been proven that CBD has notable antipsychotic effects, but how exactly this happens in the human brain had yet to be clarified – until now.

In a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), researchers set out to investigate the neurocognitive mechanisms that make CBD such a suitable antipsychotic treatment. The randomized clinical trial was conducted at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation trust in London.

There were a total 33 participants in this study who were “antipsychotic medication-naïve”, meaning they had little experience with antipsychotic medication, but they were determined to be at clinical high risk of developing psychosis. Additionally, 19 healthy control individuals were observed as well.

Out of the 33 participants, 16 received a single, 600 mg dose of CBD (orally) and 17 were given only a placebo. They were then studied via functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while performing a cognitive verbal task. That one dose of CBD was enough to activate the striatum, medial temporal cortex, and midbrain – all sections of the brain that that contribute to psychosis. In comparison, the placebo group had reduced activation in those same regions.

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As stated in the study, “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.” Simplified, it means that the CBD group was right in the middle between the placebo patients and the healthy participants.

This is significant because it suggests that CBD can be used to normalize the dysfunction in these regions of the brain and reduce symptoms of psychosis. It also provides more insight into how exactly CBD can be used as an antipsychotic, something that was not very well understood until this point.

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