London — British scientists have unraveled how a non-intoxicating component of cannabis acts in key brain areas to reduce abnormal activity in patients at risk of psychosis, suggesting the ingredient could become a novel anti-psychotic medicine. While regular use of potent forms of cannabis can increase the chances of developing psychosis, the chemical cannabidiol, or CBD, appears to have the opposite effect. CBD is the same cannabis compound that has also shown benefits in epilepsy, leading to the first US approval of a cannabis-based drug, a purified form of CBD from GW Pharmaceuticals, in June. Previous research at King’s College London had shown that CBD seems to counter the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the substance in cannabis that makes people high.

But how this happened was a mystery. Now, by scanning the brains of 33 young people experiencing distressing psychotic symptoms but who had not been diagnosed with full-blown psychosis, Sagnik Bhattacharyya and co...

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