Can You Use CBD for Psychosis? What the Science Says

Published January 31, 2024
Can You Use CBD for Psychosis? What the Science Says - Secret Nature

Though symptoms never manifest in most users, THC is known to have psychotogenic (psychosis-inducing) properties that make the cannabinoid more dangerous for certain groups. Since the earliest days of research into CBD, it’s been found that this natural cannabinoid has a propensity to reduce the psychosis-inducing properties of THC.

Do these supposed properties extend to all forms of psychosis, however? In recent years, a surprisingly wide body of research has accumulated on the subject of using CBD for psychosis, providing plenty of data worth sifting through. In this guide, we’ll examine some of the most important CBD psychosis studies that have been conducted to date.

CBD for Psychosis: Overview

1. An impressive amount of evidence suggests that CBD could be used as a treatment for psychosis
2. Researchers believe the endocannabinoid system might play a role in the development of autism into psychosis
3. Early psychosis factors also seem to be modulated by CBD
CBD’s purported antipsychotic benefits could occur in the frontal and medial temporal lobes
4. Inhaled CBD has been examined as a potential treatment of psychosis
5. CBD does not appear to have any psychotogenic properties itself
6. Overall, there is considerable evidence that CBD might be useful for psychosis

    Most Recent Research on CBD and Psychosis

    2023: Cannabidiol enhances cerebral glucose utilization and ameliorates psychopathology and cognition

    Psychotic symptoms often show themselves during adolescence. In this case study, a 19-year-old student presenting the classic precursors to psychosis was provided 600mg oral CBD per day. Despite using this high dose, no side effects were noted, and the patient showed “significant clinical improvement.” Also, a PET scan showed “a considerable increase” in FDG, a neurochemical associated with the development of psychosis. 

    2022: The Autism–Psychosis Continuum Conundrum: Exploring the Role of the Endocannabinoid System

    This recent meta-analysis examines the potential antipsychotic effects of CBD within the context of a theory that is rapidly making its way to the mainstream: that autism either leads to psychosis or is a form of psychosis in itself. To investigate the usefulness of CBD, the authors of the study examined its impact on the endocannabinoid system, which they believe plays a critical role in the transformation of autism into full-onset psychosis. The results of the research are inconclusive and mainly go to show that the scientific community is engaging with the relationship between CBD and psychosis in increasingly imaginative and creative ways.

    CBD for Psychosis Human Trials

    2021: Cannabidiol Cigarettes as Adjunctive Treatment for Psychotic Disorders – A Randomized, Open-Label Pilot-Study

    Of particular interest to enjoyers of CBD flower, this recent clinical study observed the potential effects of CBD cigarettes on the symptoms of psychosis. The study consisted of 31 psychotic patients, 51% of whom were already cannabis users. Decreases were noted in multiple established metrics for assessing psychosis, and “an increase of antipsychotic medication equivalent was observed in the placebo group.” These results led the researchers to conclude that CBD could work as “antipsychotic medication” as an “adjunctive treatment of acute psychosis.”

    2021: Normalization of mediotemporal and prefrontal activity, and mediotemporal-striatal connectivity, may underlie antipsychotic effects of cannabidiol in psychosis

    The abstract of this recent clinical study begins by providing a context in which CBD is already regarded as a substance with at least some degree of antipsychotic potential. From that position, the researchers go on to explain that the purpose of their study is to determine the potential biochemical mechanisms behind these previously observed results.

    Overall, 34 individuals participated in the study, and the “[e]ffects of CBD on brain activation [were] measured using… fMRI.” After observing the results of their research, the study facilitators concluded that “normalization of mediotemporal and prefrontal dysfunction… may underlie the antipsychotic effects of CBD.”

    2021: Cannabidiol modulation of hippocampal glutamate in early psychosis

    Consisting of 13 patients, this clinical study measured levels of glutamate in the hippocampus as a way of determining the impact of CBD administration on psychotic symptoms. A large dose of 600mg CBD was administered to each patient per day, leading the study facilitators to observe a “significantly greater decrease in symptom severity” in patients who were given CBD. Ultimately, the researchers believed they uncovered “a link between the increase in glutamate levels and concomitant decrease in symptom severity under cannabidiol treatment observed in psychosis patients.” 

    Additional CBD for Psychosis Studies

    2021: Cannabidiol (CBD) as a novel treatment in the early phases of psychosis

    This commonly cited meta-analysis widely discussed the potential benefits and detractors of using CBD for psychosis. Noting that THC is known to cause psychotogenic symptoms in some patients, the authors go on to discuss their findings that CBD should be studied in more detail for its antipsychotic potential. Without drawing any firm conclusions, the authors of this exhaustive paper nonetheless found there to be plenty of merit to investigating CBD further as a potential antipsychotic agent. 

    2009: Cannabidiol for the treatment of psychosis in Parkinson's disease

    As one of the first pieces of scientific research to discuss using CBD for psychosis, this older clinical study is still worthy of consideration. Noting that “CBD did not worsen motor function” in 6 patients with Parkinson’s disease, the authors concluded that “CBD may be effective, safe and well tolerated for the treatment of the psychosis in PD.”

    Discussion: Should CBD Be Used for Psychosis?

    Those who use products that combine CBD and THC indicate that the presence of CBD reduces or “cuts” their THC high. CBD has been scientifically observed to impact markers associated with psychosis, and it especially appears to be capable of playing a key role in the development of psychotic symptoms.

    Psychosis is a serious psychiatric condition requiring expert care. Given its innocuous nature, it may be suitable to try CBD as an antipsychotic without consulting a medical professional. To establish an ideal dose schedule for CBD, however, it can be highly useful to receive professional advice. Most medical professionals are no longer skeptical of CBD and warm to the topic especially easily when presented with concisely ordered scientific data.

    As a long-term condition with a complex pathology, it would be overly optimistic to consider CBD as a candidate for a mainline antipsychotic therapy. In future years, however, it may become common knowledge that CBD offers utility as an adjunctive therapy in cases of psychosis, especially those brought about by THC use. More research is required to know for certain.


    1. Koethe, D., Rohleder, C., Kracht, L. W., & Leweke, F. M. (2023). Cannabidiol enhances cerebral glucose utilization and ameliorates psychopathology and cognition: A case report in a clinically high-risk mental state. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 14.

    2. Colizzi, M., Bortoletto, R., Costa, R., Bhattacharyya, S., & Balestrieri, M. (2022). The Autism–Psychosis Continuum Conundrum: Exploring the role of the endocannabinoid system. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(9), 5616.

    3. Köck, P., Lang, E., Trulley, V., Dechent, F., Mercer‐Chalmers‐Bender, K., Frei, P., Huber, C. G., & Borgwardt, S. (2021). Cannabidiol Cigarettes as Adjunctive Treatment for Psychotic Disorders – A randomized, Open-Label Pilot-Study. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 12.

    4. O’Neill, A., Wilson, R., Blest-Hopley, G., Annibale, L., Colizzi, M., Brammer, M., Giampietro, V., & Bhattacharyya, S. (2020). Normalization of mediotemporal and prefrontal activity, and mediotemporal-striatal connectivity, may underlie antipsychotic effects of cannabidiol in psychosis. Psychological Medicine, 51(4), 596–606.

    5. O’Neill, A., Annibale, L., Blest-Hopley, G., Wilson, R., Giampietro, V., & Bhattacharyya, S. (2021). Cannabidiol modulation of hippocampal glutamate in early psychosis. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 35(7), 814–822.

    6. Chesney, E., Oliver, D., & McGuire, P. (2021). Cannabidiol (CBD) as a novel treatment in the early phases of psychosis. Psychopharmacology, 239(5), 1179–1190.

    7. Zuardi, A. W., Crippa, J. a. S., Hallak, J. E. C., Pinto, J. R. a. D. S., Chagas, M. H. N., Rodrigues, G. G. R., Dursun, S., & Tumas, V. (2008). Cannabidiol for the treatment of psychosis in Parkinson’s disease. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 23(8), 979–983.

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