Can CBD Stop THC-Induced Paranoia in its Tracks?
Studies show that if CBD is taken prior to exposure to high THC, the brain does not trip into the psychosis-like state of paranoia.
Paranoia is the unfounded fear that others are trying to harm you, follow you, or spy on you. It is a central experience for diseases such as schizophrenia. It is associated with youth, poverty, poor physical condition, suicide and sometimes, THC. While triggers for this state of mind may vary (major life events, on-going stress, sleep disturbances, trauma, illicit drugs), the emotions are quite similar (anxiety, worry, negative self- belief, others, the world formed in upbringing etc.).
The cannabis plant contains over 60 different cannabinoid molecules, but two in particular captivate the interest of the health care professionals- Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which brings the feeling of euphoria and cannabidiol (CBD), showing promising results as an anti-psychotic medication.
Do High Potency THC Strands Cause Paranoia?
Balance of these two molecules varies greatly and contributes to the “potency” of a certain cannabis types. For example, samples of “street cannabis” in UK and Netherlands, ratios of THC:CBD are typically 1:1 with a concentration of 4%. Nowadays, “high-potency” strains have been crossed that promise 16-22% THC and <0.1% CBD. There is also accruing evidence that these high THC strains pose a greater risk on the mental health of vulnerable persons.
In Netherlands, the most prominent varieties of cannabis are tested annually for the THC/CBD ratio. This ratio has been related to ‘psychotic experiences’ as rated per CAPE scale (Community Assesment of Psychic Experiences). People using cannabis with high THC/CBD ratio scored higher on the CAPE test, whereas the converse has been observed with lower THC/CBD ratio.
The principal psychoactive component in cannabis is Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This compound, administered intravenously, develops pharmacological symptoms in 5 min, and lasts for about 90 mins. This provides a well-controlled opportunity for an experiment to test the theory of cannabis-related psychosis. The results are that intravenous administration of the THC causes schizophrenia like symptoms, such as perceptual disturbances, anxiety and impaired working memory.
Studies Also Show CBD Stops the Paranoia
Lab-based studies are more detailed and effects of the specific cannabinoid molecules can be measured under the tightly controlled conditions. For example, in the 80s, it was demonstrated that CBD (1mg/kg) inhibits anxiety induced by THC (o.5mg/kg).
More recently, it was shown that the intravenous pre-treatment of with CBD prevents the paranoia induced by THC. This was a double-blind, placebo test that clearly demonstrated placebo participants did not derive any anti-paranoia benefit. CBD will counter the effect of the THC, even with low affinity for the CB1 receptor.
Exact mechanism of this relationship has yet to be studied in detail. What we know so far is that THC may cause temporary psychosis-like symptoms via stimulation of the CB1 receptor. The questions becomes: how many of these receptors are in the brain and what is their location? Their levels are high in the frontal cortex, basal ganglia, hippocampus and cerebellum.
Previous epidemiological and experimental studies have indicated that cannabis products lacking CBD are more psychoactive than the products containing CBD. The findings, so far, fully support this statement. Under controlled experimental conditions, CBD does decrease THC-induced psychoactive symptoms and “protects” the brain from any cognitive impact of THC.