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Publication Title | Cannabidiol as an antipsychotic drug

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Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research (2006) 39: 421-429

Cannabidiol as an antipsychotic drug

ISSN 0100-879X Review

A.W. Zuardi2, J.A.S. Crippa2, J.E.C. Hallak2,

F.A. Moreira1 and F.S. Guimarães1

Correspondence

A.W. Zuardi

Departamento de Neurologia, Psiquiatria e Psicologia Médica FMRP, USP

Av. Bandeirantes, 3900 14049-900 Ribeirão Preto, SP Brasil

E-mail: awzuardi@fmrp.usp.br

Several studies reviewed here were supported by FAPESP and CNPq.

Received August 9, 2005 Accepted December 14, 2005

Abstract

A high dose of ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the main Cannabis sativa (cannabis) component, induces anxiety and psychotic-like symptoms in healthy volunteers. These effects of ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol are significantly reduced by cannabidiol (CBD), a cannabis constituent which is devoid of the typical effects of the plant. This observation led us to suspect that CBD could have anxiolytic and/or antipsychotic actions. Studies in animal models and in healthy volunteers clearly suggest an anxiolytic-like effect of CBD. The antipsychotic-like properties of CBD have been investigated in animal models using behavioral and neurochemical techniques which suggested that CBD has a pharmacological profile similar to that of atypical antipsychotic drugs. The results of two studies on healthy volunteers using percep- tion of binocular depth inversion and ketamine-induced psychotic symptoms supported the proposal of the antipsychotic-like properties of CBD. In addition, open case reports of schizophrenic patients treated with CBD and a preliminary report of a controlled clinical trial comparing CBD with an atypical antipsychotic drug have confirmed that this cannabinoid can be a safe and well-tolerated alternative treatment for schizophrenia. Future studies of CBD in other psychotic conditions such as bipolar disorder and comparative studies of its antipsychotic effects with those produced by clozapine in schizo- phrenic patients are clearly indicated.

Key words

• Cannabidiol

• ∆9-Tetrahydrocannabinol • Cannabinoid

• Anxiety

• Antipsychotic

• Schizophrenia

Cannabidiol, a Cannabis sativa constituent, as an antipsychotic drug

1Departamento de Farmacologia,

2Departamento de Neurologia, Psiquiatria e Psicologia Médica, Faculdade de Medicina de Ribeirão Preto,

Universidade de São Paulo, Ribeirão Preto, SP, Brasil

Introduction

The use Cannabis sativa (cannabis) ex- tracts as medicine was described in China and India (1) before the birth of Christ. The therapeutic use of cannabis was introduced in Western medicine in the first half of the 19th century and reached its climax in the last two decades of the same century. At the turn of the century, several pharmaceutical

companies were marketing cannabis extracts and tinctures which were prescribed by doc- tors for many different complaints including pain, whooping cough and asthma, and as a sedative/hypnotic agent (2). However, the use of cannabis as a medicine almost com- pletely disappeared at about the middle of the 20th century. The main reasons for this disappearance were the variable potency of cannabis extracts, the erratic and unpredict-

Braz J Med Biol Res 39(4) 2006

421

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