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The role of cannabidiol in anandamide-related improvement in alexithymia and health outcomes

INVESTIGATORS: Erin Morgan, PhD

STUDY LOCATION: University of California, San Diego

PROJECT TITLE: The role of cannabidiol in anandamide-related improvement in alexithymia and health outcomes

FUNDING SOURCE: California Bureau of Cannabis Control

PROJECT TYPE: Clinical Study

STATUS:  Active

ABSTRACT:

Although HIV disease is currently well-managed from a medical perspective, some people continue to experience more problems related to the central nervous system than the general population. One problem is alexithymia, which is difficulty identifying and describing one’s own emotional experiences, as well as a tendency to have an externally-oriented thinking style (and that can lead people to experience emotional distress as physical symptoms). Alexithymia makes it difficult for people to regulate their emotions, and prolonged dysregulation is associated with chronic distress and inflammation. Although early evidence shows some promise for improving alexithymia with targeted treatment, traditional psychotherapy that relies upon emotional insight often has suboptimal outcomes in affected individuals. People with HIV (PWH) have higher rates of alexithymia than the general population, and it is associated with cognitive impairment. HIV is also associated with chronic inflammation, and alexithymia may be a contributor to persistently elevated inflammation in PWH. As such, this study will examine whether CBD will reduce alexithymia in PWH, given that it shows some promise in enhancing social behavior in some studies, and that it will also reduce inflammation. We will explore whether there is a relationship between the change in alexithymia and change in inflammation over the course of the study. This study may inform future clinical trials for treatment of PWH.