A compound found in marijuana can treat schizophrenia as effectively as antipsychotic medications, with far fewer side effects, according to a preliminary clinical trial. Unlike the main ingredient in marijuana, THC, which can produce psychotic reactions and may worsen schizophrenia, cannabidiol (CBD) has antipsychotic effects, according to previous research in both animals and humans.
Half a century ago, Hebrew University Prof. Raphael Mechoulam isolated and synthesized THC, the main psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant. By 1963, Mechoulam and his research partners had revealed the structure of cannabidiol (CBD), a key ingredient in cannabis. By the following year they had isolated THC for the first time, established its structure and synthesized it.
Marijuana has been shown to have both anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects and to induce anxiety and psychosis in certain people. In schizophrenics, it can increase symptoms, and in healthy people it can increase the risk of schizophrenia. Now, new study shows that the two active ingredients in pot, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) may have quite opposite effects on the brain – and behavior – and could explain why pot’s effects can be unpredictable.
New research finds that the two main ingredients in marijuana have opposing effects on it. The study examined 15 normal men who had previously smoked cannabis only a few times. Researchers exposed the men to each of the two most psychoactive ingredients in marijuana — delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) and compared their effects with those of a placebo while the participants performed a mental task.