It’s no secret that the once taboo topic of mental health has recently become a popular one. Everyone from celebrities to royals are weighing in on the conversation hoping to be rid of the stigma that surrounds a person dealing with things like depression and debilitating anxiety. Almost simultaneously rising in popularity is that of CBD oil, or what some dub the miracle cure, leaving many to wonder, can CBD oil help with depression?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is just one of over 100 cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. While similar to THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, it can impact the body without giving the feeling of being high or euphoric. Additionally, cannabidiol does not have addictive properties and won’t create a dependence, unlike THC.
While more research is needed to discover exactly how cannabidiol oil works within the body, researchers feel they are developing a good understanding. The human body actually produces its own cannabinoids and has receptors for these, CB1 and CB2. CB1 is concentrated in the brain, but can be found throughout the body and controls coordination, movement, pain, emotions, mood, and thinking, among other things; CB2 receptors are in the immune system and impact inflammation and pain.
While it was once believed that cannabidiol attached to CB2 receptors, that is no longer the case. Instead, researchers now believe that it stimulates the body to make more of its own cannabinoids. These go on to help regulate functions in the body such as mood, appetite, sleep, and even pain sensation.
What attracts many to this type of oil is that it is a naturally occurring ingredient that does not have addictive properties. Essentially it’s not another medication with an expensive price tag or harmful side effects. While some do experience issues when they begin taking it, the majority can tolerate cannabidiol just fine.
Apart from using CBD oil for anxiety and depression, it possesses many other functions, including:
While more research is needed to confirm these, initial studies and patient testimonies have been encouraging. Some believe there are even more uses that will be discovered as scientists continue to study this cannabinoid.
A few common issues leading to depression include low serotonin levels and inflammation causing changes to the structure of the brain. We already know that cannabidiol has anti-inflammatory properties, allowing it to help with inflammation, but how does it affect serotonin?
While cannabidiol itself doesn’t necessarily increase serotonin levels, it is believed that it affects how the brain’s chemical receptors respond to the serotonin already in the system. One animal study, performed in 2014, found that CBD impacted these receptors and in turn produced antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects. Anti-stress effects were also found after a 2018 review of existing studies.
When a person experiences depression, the hippocampus, or the region of the brain responsible for learning, emotions, and memory, can actually shrink or atrophy. However, this area can be regenerated, especially using antidepressant medication; but, some are finding that CBD may help with this as well.
Specifically, scientists believe that cannabidiol protects this region of the brain, preventing the shrinking and death of neurons. Some also believe that taking this oil could even regenerate the neurons of the hippocampus by doing the following:
With the popularity of cannabidiol, it seems there are new ways to ingest it every day. Not only can you eat it as a gummy, but you can put it in your smoothie or coffee drink. But what is the best way to consume it for depression symptoms?
The most popular way of ingesting CBD oil for depression is in a capsule form. This way may take up to 90 minutes to work, but the goal is to get into a routine of taking it with the effects lasting anywhere from two to 24 hours. When starting out, it is recommended to begin with a small dose of five to ten milligrams, increasing the level until the desired effect is achieved.
Most capsules are packaged at 25mg, but capsules can also be made at home with the preferred amount. If the daily amount has been taken, but you experience a sudden bout of high stress or anxiety, it’s recommended you vaporize the oil for these specific situations. Vaporized cannabidiol is fast acting and can be used in addition to the daily capsules.
Though you never want to stop medication without consulting your doctor, cannabidiol has shown a few benefits over traditional antidepressants. First, most antidepressants may take weeks to start working, but CBD effects are fast with some relief coming in the first day or two of use. Secondly, it has few side effects whereas an antidepressant can cause insomnia, sexual dysfunction, agitation, and mood swings.
While cannabidiol oil is not going to cure depression, it has certainly shown promise in relieving many of the symptoms. If you or someone you know is interested in trying it out, start slowly and make sure others know you are using it. As with medications, stop use if you have adverse feelings or reactions. If you are currently on antidepressants or other medication, consult your doctor and make sure that CBD oil for mental health treatment is the right option.