Cannabidiol and Psychiatric Disorders What Does the Research (conducted in September 2019) Say?

Research conducted in September 2019 shows promising benefits of CBD enhanced medical marijuana for psychiatric patients. Through animal studies the researched pointed to THC increasing ventral hippocampus (vHipp), the area of the brain which relays emotional control, decreases GABA, and amplifies areas required for dopamine regulation.
Written by 
Trista Best, Registered Dietitian.
|Last Updated:

In 1992 a major discovery was made in the area of cannabidiol and hemp’s health benefits. This discovery was the endocannabinoid system and was made by Drs. Lumir Hanus and William Devane at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

This discovery changed the trajectory of medical marijuana and the compound cannabidiol (CBD). Fast-forward nearly 30 years and what we understand about CBD and we have only touched the surface of what CBD can do for overall health. 

The Body/Mind Connection

While the endocannabinoid system may seem relatively young it is vital to human health homeostasis and balance. The body contains compounds known as endocannabinoids which are naturally occurring. However, there are exogenous cannabinoids, known as phytocannabinoids, as well such as CBD and THC. The endocannabinoid system has receptors (CB1 and CB2) which are located throughout the body. 

These receptors are primarily found in the organs, brain, connective tissues, and immune cells. This system plays a key role in nervous system health, immune health, and essentially links the body and mind together.

The Research 

Research conducted in September 2019 shows promising benefits of CBD enhanced medical marijuana for psychiatric patients. 

What do these results mean for CBD and medical marijuana use? For those with diagnosed psychosis and schizophrenia, this could mean significant neuropsychiatric risks. Basically, not a good idea. 

The good news is the researchers took this a step further and discovered medical marijuana or THC containing products, coupled with high doses of CBD could mitigate this issue.2

The study suggests CBD being administered along with THC can block these behavioral and neural issues of THC alone. The mechanism by which this is done in the body is still being researched, but the findings are promising and give CBD one more potential benefit to adding its repertoire.

Boil It Down

For those of us who don’t have the time or mental energy to read through research articles in enough detail to fully understand what it is trying to communicate its nice to have someone boil it down so to speak. We’ve attempted to put this promising research in plain language to better help our readers apply its benefits to their lives.

So here goes…

The research begins with the notion that THC and CBD, the two primary cannabinoids in cannabis, regulate stimuli responses and psychiatric risks differently. Meaning their impact on mental and emotional balance are essentially opposite.2

The researchers thought it best to test this theory by observing the impact these compounds had on the ventral hippocampus (vHipp) because it regulates dopamine and other emotional regulating hormones. 

In the mice it was found THC decreased GABA and heightened an area of the brain associated with reward cognition. These two factors are known to be present among patients with schizophrenia and some other psychiatric disorders. The researchers wanted to identify if THC puts these patients at greater risk for depression and self-harm due to THC’s side effects and if there was a way to decrease THC’s impact.2

The researchers found by adding, even a small amount, of CBD along with THC the CBD was able to counteract THC’s emotional impact. The findings concluded CBD was able to mitigate THC-induced emotional and behavioral abnormalities.2

Plain words? Patients with diagnosed psychiatric conditions who use THC containing products or marijuana may be putting themselves at risk for increased depression and worsening of their psychiatric condition/symptoms. To prevent or mitigate this response it could be useful to add CBD to their regimen to block the chemical process that creates this reaction.2

Of course, with any health conditions whether mental or physical it is important to receive clearance from your prescribing and treating physician before making changes to your regimen.



  1. Hanus, L. Discovery and Isolation of Anandamide and Other Endocannabinoids: . Published on August 21, 2007.
  2. Hudson, R. et. al. Cannabidiol Counteracts the Psychotropic Side-Effects of Delta-9Tetrahydrocannabinol in the Ventral Hippocampus Through Bi-Directional Control of ERK 1-2 Phosphorylation.  J. Neuro. 2019;0708-19. 
Trista Best
Trista Best
Registered Dietitian
Trista Best is a Registered Dietitian, Public Health Dietitian, and former college Nutrition Professor. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Health Science from Armstrong Atlantic State University in 2009, Masters of Public Health Nutrition from Liberty University in 2014, and Bachelors of Science in Food and Environmental Sciences from the University of Alabama in 2018. Her dietetic background is in Public Health, Medical Grade Supplements, and Childhood Nutrition.

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