Cannabidiol for Potentially Treating Psychosis: International Study Launched by University of Oxford

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Recently, the University of Oxford began an international study to examine the potential therapeutic benefits of cannabidiol (CBD) in treating psychosis or psychotic symptoms.

Scientists at England’s University of Oxford recently launched a global trial to study the potential effects of cannabidiol (CBD) on psychosis (1). Coordinated by Oxford’s department of psychiatry, the study will involve 35 centers, mostly in Europe and North America. The stratification and treatment in early psychosis (Step) program will study 1000 patients, including those who are at high risk of psychosis, those who with a first episode of psychosis, and those who have not responded well to conventional treatments.

“Cannabidiol is one of the most promising new treatments for people with psychosis,” said Oxford professor Philip McGuire, who is leading the trial (1). “Many people with psychosis are open to trying cannabidiol and previous smaller-scale studies have indicated that it has beneficial effects. As well as treating psychosis that is already established, the study will also investigate whether cannabidiol can prevent the onset of psychosis in people at high risk of developing it.”


The study was awarded £16.5 million by Wellcome, a global charitable foundation supporting health research (2). The CBD for the study was provided at no cost by Jazz Pharmaceuticals, a biopharmaceutical company based in Ireland (3). The form of CBD used is Epidiolex, known in Europe as Epidyolex.

“This exciting programme will help us to find out if cannabidiol is effective at treating psychosis at various stages by testing it at scale,” said Lynsey Bilsland, the head of mental health translation at Wellcome (1). “While antipsychotics are commonly used to treat psychosis, they can have significant side effects, patients often stop taking them, and they don’t work for everyone. This means that it is important that we explore avenues such as this one for new therapies. In addition, as part of these trials the researchers are aiming to identify biomarkers – biological signposts – which would indicate that a patient might respond well to the treatment. This will allow for greater personalisation of treatment in the future.”

Currently in the United Kingdom, CBD is prescribed for only a few conditions, including epilepsy and vomiting or nausea caused by chemotherapy (1).