AUSTRALIAN researchers believe cannabis, a drug believed to increase the risk of psychosis, may also be able to reverse psychotic behaviour.
Scientists at Melbourne's Monash University say they have found a chemical compound in cannabis, cannabidiol, that reverses drug-induced behavioural disturbances in mice.
Use of cannabis had been linked with an increased risk of developing psychosis because of the effects of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which also gives users a high, researcher Leonora Long said.
"The interesting thing is that you have these two compounds in the cannabis plant that produce opposing effects," Ms Long said.
"One is liable to produce psychotic symptoms, while the other may be protective against psychosis.
"Cannabidiol may also help alleviate the symptoms of epilepsy and also pain associated with inflammatory disorders such as multiple sclerosis," she said.
Ms Long said previous research had shown that THC produced behavioural deficiencies in rodents that mimicked symptoms of human psychosis.
The researchers now plan to investigate the effects of cannabidiol and THC together in rats and mice to see how the two compounds interact and to mimic human consumption of cannabis.