Two herbal remedies can reduce susceptibility to schizophrenia and affect the mechanism of action of drugs a study by researchers from the CNIO SMIR Centre for Paediatric Research shows. Results of the study lie in the open-access journal PLOS ONE.

Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder and one of the five most prevalent psychiatric disorders worldwide; when left untreated the disorder frequently leads to suicidal thoughts and behaviour. In Finland about 1 in every 100 people is affected. Some symptoms can include hearing loss double vision disorientation agitation mood changes and hallucinations. Other times no apparent symptoms can be found.

Modern psychotherapeutic medications include lithium tricyclic antidepressants and antipsychotics have been widely used to treat schizophrenia and some have been found to be moderately effective in lowering the risk of psychotic symptoms. In a new study however the researchers investigated the mechanism through which these medications impact the brain and the symptoms related to them.

Researchers enrolled 2015 people who had been treated at a psychiatric clinic during childhood or adolescence for a severe mental disorder. Of the patients 59 were children and 89 were adolescents. Patients were included in the study if they were for example 10 years old had lived with a parent at least one month prior to the beginning of the study and had been diagnosed by a clinician or psychiatrist with schizophrenia at least 10 years earlier.

The study yielded six main outcome measures. First anxiety was assessed using the Standard Anxiety Scale (SAS) and Disorders of Affect (D-AACC) scales. Anxiety indicative of problems with thought perception self-processing motor coordination pain and social interactions was also assessed.

In the best-performing outcome category 1. 3 percentage points of the participants had higher anxiety than other individual groups. There were four domains of functioning ranging from not having trouble making face faces and walking to not knowing what to do with the object in front of them.

The research also looked at alcohol consumption. The findings showed that alcohol consumption was negatively correlated in the best performing group with the outcome of LSD cocaine and ecstasy.

Today we are all aware of effective pharmaceuticals for treating anxiety and schizophrenia yet there are fewer medications that are not based on the regulation of other substances such as chemicals found in marijuana and other similar substances explains psychiatrist and lead author Mecht Salldorf. Our study has provided insight into how the effects of these psychotherapeutic medications affect the brain and the symptoms related to the disease making it possible for us to develop better medication formulas.