Skunk: An answer?

UCL study reveals potential treatment methods for psychosis from sustained use of high-strength cannabis.

CBD, according to a study, may reduce the risk of mental health issues brought about by high-strength strains of cannabis.

Scientists at University College London have
found that cannabidiol properties carry the potential to alleviate serious side
effects of strong recreational cannabis like ‘skunk’.

Sustained use of skunk has long-been connected
with the symptoms of some serious mental health patients, but the work at UCL
may demonstrate how an ingredient of the same plant can be used to counteract
the side effects.

The researchers are moving studies toward the
conclusion that elevated levels of CBD in cannabis can create a ‘buffer’ to the
side effects.

They discovered that plant strains with a
higher level of CBD than the hallucinogenic chemical tetrahydrocannabidiol
(THC) reduced the amount of disruption to the parts of the brain associated
with addiction and psychosis.

The discovery was supported by users reporting
a reduction in the sensation of being high on the drug with a greater amount of
CBD than THC.

Reporting in the Journal of
Psychopharmacology, Dr Matt Wall of UCL said the findings were important in the
search for treatments of psychosis.

“Over the last two
decades, rates of addiction and psychosis linked to cannabis have been on the
rise, while at the same time stronger strains of cannabis with more THC and
less CBD have become increasingly common,” he said.

“We have now found that CBD
appears to buffer the user against some of the acute effects of THC on the
brain.”

A cannabis plant contains a large collection of
complex chemicals called ‘cannabinoids’. Its most potent and common chemical is
tetrahydrocannabidiol. Cannabidiol – or CBD – is the second most abundant.

One of the driving forces behind the UCL study is
the fact that London – where the recreational use of cannabis is illegal – has
one of the highest rates of diagnosed psychosis in Europe.

Trials at the University of Central London used MRI
scans to monitor the effects of different cannabis strains, noting that a
region of the brain called the posterior cingulate had neuron signals disrupted
by low-CBD skunk.

A knock-on effect appeared to be an interference of
the neuron network linked with sensory and emotional information – the
‘salience networks’.

A disruption of these neuron networks is believed to the clinical connection with psychosis and addiction. However, the UCL study suggests CBD could form the framework of medicinal treatment.

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