The development of Cannabidiol as a psychiatric therapeutic: a review of its antipsychotic efficacy and possible underlying pharmacodynamic mechanisms

Shahin A.M. Jalali, William E. Johnson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Cannabidiol (CBD), a once-considered inert cannabis constituent, is one of two primary constituents of cannabis, alongside delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (?9-THC/THC). In the last 30 years, CBD has become implicated with a range of pharmaceutical mechanisms of great therapeutic interest and utility. This review details the literature speculating CBD’s attenuation of psychotic symptoms, particularly in light of a marked elevation in mean THC concentrations, and a concomitant decline in CBD concentrations in the prevalent U.K street market cannabis derivatives since c. 2000. CBD is purported to exhibit pharmacology akin to established atypical antipsychotics, whilst THC has been implicated with the precipitation of psychosis, and the induction of associated symptoms. The aim of the review was to clarify the conjecture surrounding CBD’s antipsychotic efficacy, before going on to detail prominent theories about its associated pharmacodynamics. Were CBD’s antipsychotic efficacy established, then there is potential for major latent anthropological repercussions to manifest, such as significant elevations in psychosis manifestations in the U.K. The review found a largely affirmative body of evidence asserting CBD’s antipsychotic efficacy. CBD exhibited capacity to attenuate natural and artificially induced psychoses in both animal and human cohorts, the latter of which included individuals considered resistant to conventional treatment. CBD also shows promising potential for use as an antipsychotic drug for Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients with psychosis, owing to its low rate of extra-pyramidal side-effect induction. A range of potential pharmacological mechanisms behind CBD’s neuroleptic pharmacology are outlined, with particular emphasis on its prevention of the hydrolysis and reuptake of the endogenous cannabinoid, anandamide. However, given the nebular aetiological basis for psychoses, explicit conclusions on how CBD attenuates psychotic symptoms remains to be determined.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)113-147
    Number of pages35
    JournalInternational Neuropsychiatric Disease Journal
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013

    Bibliographical note

    © 2013 Jalali and Johnson; This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( licenses/by/3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


    • cannabinoid
    • CBD
    • antipsychotic
    • THC
    • psychosis
    • schizophrenia
    • anandamide


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