Microdosing cannabis for schizophrenia

Feb 20, 2024The nama Team
Microdosing cannabis for schizophrenia

Low-dose cannabis promotes neuroplasticity and seems to have overall mental health benefits. It may improve the quality of life for schizophrenics by alleviating anxiety, reducing sensory sensitivities, and improving cognition.

High-dose cannabis, in contrast, increases the risk of schizophrenia and related psychotic symptoms, according to Australian researchers

There are so many potential perks of microdosing cannabis for mental health. Research is still evolving, but we know how beneficial the therapeutic effects of cannabis can be—and in low doses,   they could help people dealing with schizophrenia find some relief. 

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What is schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe mental disorder characterized by a loss of contact with reality and the overall inability to function in daily life. It typically emerges in the late teens to mid-twenties, and often later for women. Schizophrenia impacts about 1% of the population worldwide, potentially being related to changes in brain development during adolescence. 

This condition significantly impacts personality and behavior. People may struggle to differentiate reality from fantasy, which is why schizophrenia is considered a psychotic disorder. While there is no cure, a combination of medications and psychosocial support can improve the quality of life for those with schizophrenia. 

What are the symptoms of schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia distorts thinking, emotions, and perceptions. The condition can cause immense suffering and be extremely disabling.

Schizophrenia is characterized by two broad categories of symptoms: “positive” and “negative.” 

Positive symptoms 

Positive symptoms refer to delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized thinking and behavior, reflecting an excess or distortion of normal functioning. These include:

  • Hallucinations: seeing, hearing, smelling things that do not exist.
  • Delusions: fixed, strongly-held false beliefs lacking grounding in reality such as delusions of persecution, paranoia, and exaggerated self-importance.
  • Disorganized thinking or speech: incoherent speech patterns; fragmented, nonlinear, disjointed thought processes.
  • Disorganized or agitated behavior: unpredictable and odd behaviors, difficulty focusing and completing tasks, diminished ability to care for oneself.

Negative symptoms

Negative symptoms describe loss or impairment of normal responses and behaviors ranging from diminished emotional expression and motivation issues to poor social motivation and speech deficits. These include:

  • Reduced emotional expression and reactivity (flattened effect).
  • Apathy and lack of motivation (avolition).
  • Decreased speech output (alogia) or desire to initiate speech.
  • Inability to feel pleasure (anhedonia).
  • Social withdrawal and isolation.

While symptoms can vary from one person to another, each person suffering from schizophrenia will exhibit some combination of the above positive and negative symptoms. 

What causes schizophrenia?

There is no single cause of schizophrenia. It’s a combination of genetic, brain, and environmental factors that influence its development. 

Here are some potential risk factors for developing schizophrenia:

  1. Schizophrenia has a strong hereditary component, as those with a family history of schizophrenia are more likely to develop it. 
  2. Problems with certain neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) such as dopamine and glutamate, as well as differences in brain anatomy and connections have been linked to schizophrenia. Issues with prenatal development may also play a role.
  3. Exposure to viruses, prenatal malnutrition, and psychosocial factors such as childhood adversity can influence schizophrenia development, especially in those with genetic predispositions.
  4. Immune disorders.
  5. Aging.
  6. Substance use.

How is schizophrenia treated?

Given its chronic nature, schizophrenia requires lifelong management. The main types of schizophrenia treatment include:

  • Antipsychotic medications. They act on brain chemistry and help reduce symptoms like hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized thinking. 
  • Psychosocial interventions. Different types of talk therapy and social skills training help patients learn to cope with symptoms, identify triggers, manage stress, improve relationships, and achieve life goals. 
  • Social and community support. Schizophrenia is associated with disability, so many patients rely on community resources for basic living needs such as medical, financial, housing, rehabilitation, and employment access.
  • Hospitalization. During acute schizophrenic episodes when safety is jeopardized, hospitalization may be necessary for medical stabilization and support.
  • Lifestyle adaptation. Those with low-grade schizophrenia often make lifestyle changes to minimize stress and achieve structure and routine. This involves adequate sleep, regular physical activity, a healthy diet, and avoidance of drugs and alcohol.

Medications are often the most effective treatment for schizophrenia, but they can sometimes bring along negative effects. That's why many schizophrenics are now exploring more natural alternatives, seeking relief with fewer drawbacks— and microdosing cannabis may be the answer. 

Microdosing cannabis involves taking small amounts of THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids to reap their therapeutic potential without cognitive impairment, sedation, or intense euphoria that comes with higher doses. 

Let’s “get into the weeds” of why our low-dose cannabis edibles may be beneficial for treating some symptoms of schizophrenia.

Are cannabis edibles safe for mental health?

Low-dose edibles offer a safe way to benefit from the therapeutic properties of cannabis. Unlike smoking or vaping, which can deliver unpredictable doses and potentially harmful substances, edibles provide controlled amounts of cannabinoids such as Delta 9 THC and cannabidiol (CBD).

Researchers at the University of Washington found that “THC appears to decrease anxiety at lower doses and increase anxiety at higher doses, [while] CBD appears to decrease anxiety at all doses that have been tested.” 

This means that cannabis edibles may be particularly beneficial for people with mental health concerns: they can help alleviate anxiety and depression and offer potential relief for conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and autism. 

When taken in moderation, cannabis can help stabilize mood and ease anxiety by influencing key neurotransmitters such as serotonin and GABA. Small doses of THC appear to “dampen” brain activity in regions involving emotional processing, boosting the calming effects of GABA while lifting mood-regulating serotonin. A 2007 animal study found that THC can reduce depression at low doses by increasing serotonin levels. At low doses, the cannabis compounds act as antidepressants, increasing activity in the serotonergic neurons (the brain cells that regulate serotonin). 

This one-two punch makes low-dose weed useful for quieting distress and intrusive thoughts in PTSD, anxiety, or depression by controlling excitability and enabling more emotional balance.

A great way to boost those “feel-good” brain chemicals is with our Energy gummies. They are natural mood-enhancing supplements, specially formulated with low amounts of THC, CBD, B12, and L-theanine. 

"I have already ordered the 20 pack after trying the 10 gummies. THC makes me sleepy 90% of the time. These don't! I love the flexibility of being to take them anytime of the day. They give me a great subtle calm and focus. I'm looking forward to trying two at once."

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When it comes to schizophrenia, some studies suggest cannabis may help manage symptoms, while others claim that it makes the symptoms worse. Chronic heavy cannabis use may pose a serious risk of psychosis and hallucinations.

Is schizophrenia linked to cannabis use?

Several recent studies show strong links between heavy or problematic marijuana use and increased schizophrenia risk, particularly in young men. A 2023 Danish study revealed a strong association between cannabis use disorder and schizophrenia among young men. The study estimated that up to 30% of schizophrenia cases among men aged 21-30 might have been prevented by avoiding cannabis use. 

A 2021 study found that Delta 9 THC may trigger underlying genetic vulnerabilities to schizophrenia. This risk seems most applicable to higher doses of THC, such as those inhaled from smoking cannabis. While the evidence is strong, more research is still needed to prove that lower doses of THC—such as those found in our delicious edibles—carry less risk of psychotic side effects.

We recommend consulting a healthcare professional before partaking if you are unsure of how your body will react to cannabis.

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How can cannabis edibles help with schizophrenia?

In moderation, cannabis edibles hold promise for relief of schizophrenia symptoms. Here are some ways edibles with low doses of THC and CBD may potentially help with schizophrenia:

  1. THC and CBD have anti-anxiety effects and reduce activity in brain areas associated with fear and stress. By relieving anxiety, edibles could help with symptoms like paranoia or panic attacks. The controlled dosing of edibles allows you to find the sweet spot for symptom relief without the dangers of overconsumption.
  2. Schizophrenia frequently co-occurs with sleep disorders. The relaxing qualities of cannabis edibles can improve sleep quality, duration, and consistency for those struggling to rest peacefully. Better sleep enhances overall mental health and may improve focus and clarity in people with schizophrenia.
  3. Remember how important serotonin is for people struggling with mental health? Evidence suggests THC boosts serotonin at low doses while CBD acts as an antidepressant. By gently elevating mood, edibles could relieve feelings of sadness, apathy, or depression that frequently accompany schizophrenia.
  4. CBD and low-dose THC seem to quiet excessive neuronal firing. Neurosurgeons at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center found that CBD and THC may help treat multiple sclerosis symptoms through their combined anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, and neural-repair promoting effects. This calming effect may also help turn down the “volume” of chaotic thinking patterns in schizophrenia. 
  5. Cognitive deficits in focus and memory often occur with schizophrenia. Research shows CBD may improve cognition by stimulating brain plasticity—the brain’s ability to reorganize and form new connections between neurons. Its neuroprotective qualities could prevent further decline. Enhanced cognition also supports functional recovery.

By sparking more dopamine activity, low-dose edibles could help sharpen focus for those struggling with attention and concentration issues. Our carefully controlled microdoses also show promise for stabilizing mood swings in bipolar disorder by gently enhancing serotonin without triggering mania.

If you need something to take the edge off, our delicious Relax Plus gummies combine the relaxing benefits of CBD and the tension-releasing qualities of THC in balanced amounts (and irresistible flavors). 

Speaking of irresistible flavors, have you heard about our THC-infused beverages? Ditch the booze and those nasty hangovers and use our liquid cannabis drops to buzz up your beverages and get the same therapeutic benefits. 

Check out our collection of the most delicious THC recipes and find a buzztail that suits your palate.

Are cannabis edibles legal?

No worries, our delicious cannabis edibles are federally legal in the U.S.

Delta 9 is legal on a federal level. Under the 2018 Farm Bill, Delta 9 must be derived from hemp, and the THC content cannot exceed 0.3% by dry weight.

The legality of hemp-derived products is determined by each state individually. For example, Delta 8 THC is legal on a federal level, which also makes our Delta 8 products federally legal. However, several US states still ban Delta 8 outright.

All our Delta 9 THC edibles are legal in compliance with the Farm Bill. To make sure they are legal in your state, read up on our state-by-state guide to Delta 9 legality.

Where to buy the best cannabis edibles in the country

Many cannabis products on the market contain contaminants such as heavy metals, pesticides, fungi, and bacteria that can be harmful. These contaminants are not regulated or tested for safety and have been linked to toxic effects on the liver, kidneys, and nervous system. 

That’s why choosing high-quality, lab-tested cannabis products is crucial for everyone who cares about their health and well-being. Shop at nama and experience the difference quality makes. Our cannabis products are lab-tested to ensure safety and deliver measurable doses you can trust. 

Our gummies and THC beverages undergo rigorous quality control and independent lab testing to ensure they consistently meet the highest standards for purity and reliability. 

See where you can buy the best hemp-derived gummies in the U.S. 

Cannabis for schizophrenia FAQ

Psychosis in schizophrenia often lasts between 1 to 6 months if left untreated, with positive symptoms like delusions and hallucinations persisting. Early intervention with antipsychotic medication and therapy can significantly reduce the duration of psychotic episodes to several weeks to a couple of months. 

Systematic reviews and clinical trials have highlighted the efficacy of antipsychotic drugs in shortening the duration of psychotic episodes and improving overall clinical outcomes in individuals with schizophrenia. Seeking prompt treatment from mental health professionals is crucial for managing and minimizing the duration of psychosis in schizophrenia.

Heavy cannabis smoking, especially of high-potency cannabis, is correlated with worsened symptoms and outcomes in individuals with schizophrenia. Longitudinal studies and meta-analyses consistently link heavy cannabis use to the following:

  • Earlier onset of psychosis
  • Shorter periods of remission
  • Increased rates of hospitalizations
  • Heightened negative symptoms compared to non-users

The acute effects of cannabis use, such as psychotomimetic effects and acute cognitive impairments, can exacerbate existing psychotic symptoms in schizophrenia patients. When you minimize or abstain from cannabis smoking, the clinical outcomes may improve, as well as overall well-being in people with schizophrenia.

If you experience chronic and unexplained changes in personality, coupled with observing persistent psychotic symptoms for over 6 months, this may indicate a potential diagnosis of schizophrenia. 

Schizophrenia manifests gradually with a constellation of symptoms, including positive symptoms like delusions and hallucinations, negative symptoms such as social withdrawal and diminished emotional expression, cognitive symptoms like disorganized thinking, and overall impaired functioning. 

Consult a qualified mental health professional as soon as possible if you are noticing signs and symptoms, as they will accurately identify and address schizophrenia. Comprehensive assessments may involve reviewing medical history, conducting evaluations for psychiatric disorders, and ruling out other potential causes of psychotic symptoms.

Heavy cannabis use typically involves daily or near-daily consumption of cannabis over an extended period, exceeding 12 to 24 months, at high doses. Observational studies have associated frequent cannabis use, defined as usage on more than 5 days per week for a year or longer, with adverse mental health effects and increased risk for psychosis. 

People who engage in heavy cannabis use may experience impaired cognitive functioning, exacerbation of psychotic symptoms, and dependence on cannabis. That’s why it’s crucial to monitor and reduce cannabis consumption and minimize effects on mental health and well-being.

Chronic heavy alcohol misuse, characterized by consuming more than 14 drinks per week for men, or 7 drinks per week for women over an extended period, can exacerbate schizophrenia symptoms and increase the risk of psychosis. Research has demonstrated a significant association between heavy alcohol consumption and adverse outcomes in individuals with schizophrenia, including earlier onset of psychosis, increased rates of relapse, and higher rates of psychiatric hospitalizations. 

Cannabinoid receptors, particularly CB1 receptors in the endocannabinoid system (ECS), undergo downregulation and reduced density with heavy cannabis smoking. Research indicates that cannabinoid receptor density typically normalizes within 2 to 4 weeks of abstinence from cannabis. 

Cannabinoid receptor availability normalizes after around 28 days of abstinence, while receptor functioning may recover more rapidly within the first two weeks. These findings suggest that abstaining from heavy cannabis smoking allows for the gradual restoration of cannabinoid receptor function in the brain, potentially contributing to improved mental health conditions and cognitive functioning.

Schizophrenia is characterized by a range of psychiatric symptoms, including positive symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations, negative symptoms like social withdrawal and diminished emotional expression and cognitive symptoms such as disorganized thinking and impaired memory. These symptoms often lead to significant functional impairment and interfere with daily activities. Schizophrenic patients may also experience co-occurring substance use disorders, exacerbating the complexity of their condition. 

Substance use disorders, particularly cannabis-induced psychosis, can exacerbate symptoms and outcomes in individuals with schizophrenia. Heavy cannabis use, in particular, has been associated with earlier symptoms of psychosis, shorter periods of remission, and increased rates of hospitalizations among schizophrenic patients. Frequent cannabis use may lead to impaired cognitive functioning and dependence, further complicating the management of schizophrenia. 

Antipsychotic drugs play a pivotal role in the management of schizophrenia by targeting positive symptoms like delusions and hallucinations. These medications exert their therapeutic effects by blocking dopamine receptors in the brain, thereby alleviating psychotic symptoms and improving overall functioning. 

Antipsychotic drugs may help reduce the risk of relapse and hospitalization in individuals with schizophrenia. Antipsychotic drugs may also be associated with adverse effects such as weight gain and metabolic disturbances, underscoring the need for careful monitoring and individualized treatment approaches.

The onset of schizophrenia is influenced by a combination of genetic, environmental, and neurobiological factors. 

  1. Genetic predisposition, particularly variations in genes related to neurotransmitter function and synaptic plasticity, may increase the risk of developing schizophrenia. 
  2. Environmental factors such as prenatal exposure to infections, birth complications, and childhood trauma may also play a role. 
  3. Alterations in brain structure and function, including abnormalities in the prefrontal cortex and dopaminergic pathways, have been implicated in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. 

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Resources

HALL, W., & DEGENHARDT, L. (2008). Cannabis use and the risk of developing a psychotic disorder. World Psychiatry, 7(2), 68-71. https://doi.org/10.1002/j.2051-5545.2008.tb00158.x

Stoner SA. Effects of Marijuana on Mental Health: Anxiety Disorders. Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute,

University of Washington, June 2017. URL: http://adai.uw.edu/pubs/pdf/2017mjanxiety.pdf.

Study: Cannabis a double-edged sword. (n.d.). Newsroom. https://www.mcgill.ca/newsroom/channels/news/study-cannabis-double-edged-sword-27677

Young men at highest risk of schizophrenia linked with cannabis use. (2023, May 4). National Institutes of Health (NIH). https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/young-men-highest-risk-schizophrenia-linked-cannabis-use-disorder

Grechuk, K., Azizi, H., Sharma, V., Khan, T., & Jolayemi, A. (2021). Cannabis, Schizophrenia Risk and Genetics: A Case Report of a Patient With Homozygous Valine Catechol-O-Methyltransferase Polymorphism. Cureus, 13(6). https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.15740

Jenny, M., Schröcksnadel, S., Überall, F., & Fuchs, D. (2010). The Potential Role of Cannabinoids in Modulating Serotonergic Signaling by Their Influence on Tryptophan Metabolism. Pharmaceuticals, 3(8), 2647-2660. https://doi.org/10.3390/ph3082647

Maroon, J., & Bost, J. (2018). Review of the neurological benefits of phytocannabinoids. Surgical Neurology International, 9. https://doi.org/10.4103/sni.sni_45_18

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