Pot Smoking and Schizophrenia 5/5 (39)

marijuana pot in handThe Wall Street Journal recently posted an article about the links between pot smoking and schizophrenia. Most of us know many people who have used marijuana in high school or college without any known medical consequences. Medical research now shows a link between marijuana and the development of schizophrenia and related disorders.

Pot-Smoking And the Schizophrenia Connection

Like most issues in society, many don’t pay attention to proven research, evidence or statistics until it somehow affects them on a more personal level.

This article really hit home to me and I wanted to share it for two reasons.

#1: As practitioners we should all be aware and educated on the possibility of consequences in relation to marijuana for recreational and medical use. Patients will ask your opinion. You should have answers.

#2: I’ve treated a patient who experienced this same issue–and I was able to graph them. It’s not very often you get to see the effect of a psychotic episode in a graph.

I have three graphs to share from this patient.

Graph #1


  • Manic episode
  • Extreme anxiety
  • Unable to differentiate reality

Psychosis: A severe mental disorder in which thought and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality.

Graph #2


  • Medically induced depressive state
  • Extreme lethargy
  • Unable to differentiate reality

Graph #3

After six weeks in a mental institution.


  • Depression
  • Low energy
  • Slow mental cognition

Often, I get asked whether or not a graph analysis “changes” based on medications or life circumstances. Yes–it absolutely does. If it didn’t, it would be useless.

The graph is like a snapshot, showing what is happening within the meridians right now, in real time. Stringing together a series of snapshots can be very educational and insightful when considering treatment strategies and a patient’s overall progress over time.

When I graphed this patient for the first time, I didn’t know what to expect with future visits. Look how useful it is for me to look back over time and analyze how energy becomes blocked during multiple stages of a schizophrenic episode. This is fascinating information.

When a future patient asks me about my thoughts regarding the use of marijuana for pleasure or medicinal purposes, I have objective documentation to show how it can affect the meridians in the body.

I graph every patient before every treatment. Why? Because AcuGraph gives valuable objective information regarding the flow of energy within the channels, which makes my treatment more effective.

If you want more information, visit our website at http://www.acugraph.com.  You can also contact me personally. I’d be happy to answer questions.

Have a great week!


Kimberly Thompson, L.Ac.


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Dr. Kimberly Thompson, DACM, L.Ac.

Dr. Kimberly Thompson, DACM, L.Ac. is a US licensed acupuncturist in the state of Idaho and certified in the treatment of acupuncture, Oriental medicine and Chinese herbology by the National Certification Commission of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). Kimberly wears multiple hats in the acupuncture community. She owns her private clinic, Meridian Family Acupuncture. She has spent the last 10 years working for Miridia Technology as an acupuncture Research Analyst–where she helps plan, develop, and integrate modern diagnostic and treatment tools for the ever-evolving scientific world of acupuncture. Kimberly is a world-renown teacher, blogger, columnist, and mentor in the acupuncture community.

8 Replies to “Pot Smoking and Schizophrenia

  1. I see the changes with the graph but I don’t see how that relates to the use of marihuana.
    How do you know the effect was from that or that there system was just out of balance and they used it to self medicate?
    I didn’t read the article yet but are there double blind studies that show someone who uses marijuana developes this mental disorder or rather do they use it to help medicate to deal with their mental issues??
    I do see how the graph can be helpful to treat the imbalance in either case but I don’t see the direct correlation btw use and development ….
    Some more direct links could probably be seen with introduction of increased corn syrup and increase of diabetes for example
    No matter the cause of imbalances in graph… If it can help to find points to rebalance the persons energy which leads to better health that’s the goal …

    1. Dr. V,

      This patient was brought to me by a family member within 24 hours after becoming schizophrenic after marijuana use. The diagnosis from the mental hospital was marijuana induced schizophrenia. It took six weeks in a mental hospital to get under control.

      The doctors at the hospital said that as of lately, this case has come up multiple times.

      I simply shared the article because I thought it was interesting to hear about recent medical studies with relation to marijuana use and schizophrenia. Typically I would have quickly read this article and brushed it aside. Because I had a recent experience treating someone with the same presentation, I thought it was interesting to share. To see how a schizophrenic episode appeared on a graph was fascinating to me.

      Yes, the graph can help us to see how to treat, but it also showed how the schizophrenic episode manifested itself in the body from a channel and pattern perspective.

      Best regards~


    2. Like David V I like to have your opinion of Pot use and the effect of it long term. the effects of its use on those who use it for medical purposes. and what and why they are.Including the psychic effects . What can you glean on the acu chart? People get all kinds of drugs unfortunately. We never hear a word about or if the young
      students who get crazy and shoot their parents, student friends and teachers, if they have been getting psychatric drugs or it has been withdrawn and that’s the course of their madness. Psychiatrists and drug companies don’t like to be exposed and I certainly understand their hesitation.
      I have never used the drug , but I do know people ,who do. And I have noted violent temper. At a chiropractic convention I was told that Pot users, who had been autopsied had a hard eggshell like crust around their brain. The Reader’s Digest they referred to I never was able to find,even I had the date for the American edition. Sometimes I wonder, if it has to do with the effects of other drugs, and not just based on hearsay and exaggerations and misunderstandings. Lets get the truth and no hogwash.

      1. Long term marijuana use:

        Here is an interesting article I found today showing how TCM looks at the use of marijuana use. I thought it might be an interesting read to add to this discussion.


        What I gleaned from the chart:

        The chart was interesting to me because at the time the patient was graphed, they were 7 days POST marijuana usage. Notice the chaotic nature of energy in the body. The graph was all over the place. It matched the chaotic personality of the patient at that time. Notice that the energy was very choppy, and heavy in the upper body. The patient presented with extreme anxiety and manic behavior.

        Once the patient was given medication to “calm the psychosis” the effects showed an major sinking of qi. The drug treatment was to calm the mind, and ground the patient. While the drugs did calm the patient–the presentation was EXTREME. The patient presented with lethargy, no body brain connection.

        After the patient was institutionalized my goal for treatment was to help reconnect the mind and body. Notice the LV, ST and GB were excess. I felt like there was repressed heat in the channels. He was angry, had acid reflux and a lot of fear.

        The tongue for this patient was absolutely amazing. I wish that I had taken a picture. It was extremely red and it looked like chopped meat.

        My main goal for sharing this case study was because I thought it was fascinating to see how the body reacted to the different stages of the psychosis.

  2. Correlation does not equal causation.
    Unlikely that this was the first time this person smoked marijuana.
    Why not a psychotic break every other time?
    Nice graphs, but bad science.
    Age of onset for schizophrenia in males is roughly 18-24, and in women a bit later. But if they’re gonna break, an episode of marijuana use can only accelerate that a bit, otherwise, half the country would be psychotic, and most of California (insert joke?).
    I would look a t stimulant-induced psychotic breaks as far more deleterious to the genetically predisposed. Then look to how many children and young adults are prescribed substances such as Adderall and Ritalin. The incidence of these types of psychotic breaks is much higher. Psychosis induced by lack of sleep is more likely to occur in the ‘normal’ population (meaning those not prone to schizophrenia in the first place), as well.

    1. I agree with Andrew. This is bad science. Use of psychoactive materials can trigger latent schizophrenia, but, as Andrew noted, correlation does not equal causation. Bad science, but worse, bad medicine.

  3. Andrew,

    Are you calling bad science on the article Kimberly linked or on the graphs?

    If on the graphs, I don’t think they were meant to be “science,” per se. They weren’t testing a hypothesis, etc. They were simply observations of a particular patient, meant to be instructive and interesting.

    If on the underlying article, I suppose you would have to go to the 2007 study published in the Lancet, as referenced in that article, and point out the bad science there.

    Here’s my take:

    Certainly psychoactive drugs are just that–psychoactive. We expect them to have psychoactive repercussions. And they do, as you noted.

    I don’t think Kimberly’s purpose was to bash marijuana use so much as to illustrate a particular case.

    For those who are already close to the edge of the cliff, as noted in the linked article, marijuana use can be dangerous. For others it’s less so. All politics aside, as practitioners, we must look at the health implications of our patients’ choices. Marijuana is a medication, and like any other it has positive effects, and possible negative side effects.

  4. The least of our worries in the ‘war on drugs’ or in addressing schizophrenia is reviving a fear of violent ‘reefer madness’; it’s a mistake to draw a line to cannabis as the progenitor of schizophrenia. Marijuana has also proven to be an effective medical substance on many levels, and an unpatentable one at that– which I think explains the motivation of the negative Forbes article. The article is what I had a problem with.

    The charts presented are interesting. Assuming the effects of serious neuroleptics in there, after the psychotic state. I’d love to see before and after charts of someone treated with TCM (herbs and acu) alone for schizophrenia, as there are too many variables to determine what is contributing to changes. I also think it would be interesting to chart a study on marijuana use in relatively normal users. That said, I am not an advocate of marijuana for everyone, or suggest it is completely benign panacea, but I think it is less deleterious than alcohol in almost every way, and that in adults, it should be used with awareness and reflection. My herbs professor suggested it causes dampness, but I’d love to see someone like Michael Tierra or Peter Holmes break it down by channel, flavor, function, etc… and let those that are using it medicinally know how to balance it out with other herbs. According to TCM, what are the effects in the short term and long term?

    I think AcuGraph can be an amazing tool for acupuncture, bringing a level of objectivity to a modality that is constantly being challenged by the established medical community. But we must use it as scientists, doing our best to control for variables and to present repeatable results.

So, what do you think about it?