Could cannabidiol be used as an alternative to antipsychotics?

J Psychiatr Res. 2016 Sep:80:14-21. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2016.05.013. Epub 2016 May 28.


Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that affects close to 1% of the population. Individuals with this disorder often present signs such as hallucination, anxiety, reduced attention, and social withdrawal. Although antipsychotic drugs remain the cornerstone of schizophrenia treatment, they are associated with severe side effects. Recently, the endocannabinoid system (ECS) has emerged as a potential therapeutic target for pharmacotherapy that is involved in a wide range of disorders, including schizophrenia. Since its discovery, a lot of effort has been devoted to the study of compounds that can modulate its activity for therapeutic purposes. Among them, cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive component of cannabis, shows great promise for the treatment of psychosis, and is associated with fewer extrapyramidal side effects than conventional antipsychotic drugs. The overarching goal of this review is to provide current available knowledge on the role of the dopamine system and the ECS in schizophrenia, and to discuss key findings from animal studies and clinical trials investigating the antipsychotic potential of CBD.

Keywords: Antipsychotics; Cannabidiol; Endocannabinoid system; Psychosis; Schizophrenia.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cannabidiol / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / drug therapy*


  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Cannabidiol