Researchers and medical professionals are in need of real answers on mental health, with current medication often failing to stand up to scrutiny. Nowhere is this clearer than with depression, a mood disorder that is estimated to affect around 4 percent of the world’s population (300 million).
Yet despite the pressing concern, the main treatment continues to be selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which some research has shown to be only slightly better than placebo. More worryingly, there are some pretty bad side effects associated with SSRIs, such as depersonalization.
However, cannabidiol (CBD) has injected fresh hope into mental health research, following on from the ground-breaking discovery of the endocannabinoid system, which – among other things – helps to regulate psychological health. CBD is a derivative of cannabis, but it doesn’t cause a “buzz” or “high” when administered because it’s non-psychoactive. This only increases the compound’s stock as a medication, in all areas.
Here are six mental health conditions that can be relieved through CBD treatment.
There is a growing body of compelling evidence supporting CBD as a better-than-placebo remedy for anxiety. The most relevant study was conducted in 2011, where a group of social anxiety patients took part in a public speaking test after being given a single, large dose of CBD. Those treated with CBD performed much better and reported less anxiety than those administered with a placebo.
The study received limited press attention, with CBD barely known by the public at the time. However, the science here is strong – CBD reduces anxiety by interacting with GABA. GABA is a neurotransmitter that stops the kind of overactivity in the brain that causes anxiety – it does this by behaving as a positive allosteric modulator to the GABA-A receptor, so that GABA could bind more easily.
Vaping CBD e-liquid is the preferred method to reduce acute symptoms, such as anxiety attacks. Cannabinoids can reach the bloodstream much faster when inhaled instead of when taken orally. With the latter, the bioavailability of CBD can be reduced, and the onset of effects drawn out because it must go through the “first-pass metabolism.”
There are a few areas in which CBD may be of value for depression patients. The most important endocannabinoid in the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is an antidepressant – anandamide, or ‘the bliss molecule’, is naturally made by the body and has many similarities to THC. Anandamide provides an endogenous “high,” that is unlocked by binding with the CB1 receptor, which has been found to regulate mood. For those with depression, this mood boost could be key to correcting the chemical imbalance which causes the disorder
What is CBD’s role in all this? In normal circumstances, anandamide is rapidly degraded by the FAAH enzyme. However, CBD can suppress FAAH, thereby creating conditions where more anandamide can remain active in the ECS. Taking CBD capsules could help to lift someone out of a brief slump, and perhaps even to break things up somewhat during a major depressive episode.
Less understood is how CBD interacts with the 5-HT1A receptor, a serotonin receptor found in the serotonin system. However, it appears that this receptor is closely linked to depression and anxiety, with a 2014 study on mood control published in Psychopharmacology zoning in on the 5-HT1A receptor, and its heteroreceptors.
Schizophrenia is thought to affect around 3.5 million US adults, and causes a myriad of symptoms, such as cognitive impairment, concentration issues, hallucinations and delusions. Current schizophrenia treatments are helpful for some symptoms but have less success in medicating the cognitive and behavioral symptoms of the condition.
However, a new study from the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute in Australia suggests that CBD may help to manage these problematic symptoms. According to study leader, Dr Katrina Green, CBD works as a neuroprotectant for those who have “illnesses associated with cognitive impairment.”
Further studies are necessary, but as there are so few side effects with CBD, this cannabinoid treatment could be a game-changer for schizophrenia patients.
Psychosis has been linked to heavy cannabis use, but this is down to abuse of psychoactive THC – too much THC can desensitize cannabinoid receptors in the ECS. But in many ways, CBD is the opposite to THC – an antipsychotic compound, CBD’s influence as a negative allosteric modulator of the CB1 receptor works to suppress the “high” from THC. This explains why recreational growers have sought to make the THC to CBD ratio as great as possible – to increase the potency and the buzz.
While CBD doesn’t have a recreational use, the antipsychotic effects are welcome in the treatment of psychosis. Non-psychoactive cannabis oil is made from extracts of CBD-rich cannabis plants like Cannatonic, Bedrocan and Charlotte’s Web. This treatment is typically given sublingually, although those who self-medicate may prefer CBD vape oil and e-liquid.
Left untreated, insomnia can start to foment problems in all aspects of life. Physically, a lack of sleep leads to fatigue, and mentally it can make concentration and focus more difficult, reducing productivity. Furthermore, limited sleep can accelerate neurodegeneration, as the brain doesn’t have as much time to heal and clear out neurotoxins.
However, in high doses, CBD vape oil (and other types of CBD) is very sedating, without inducing the hallucinations that some sleep meds can. CBD is not just non-addictive, but anti-addictive – so there’s no risk or dangers with dependency. The ECS modulates sleep patterns and uses its influence to give the body more time in deep sleep, a phase that is most beneficial for daily healing.
Stress can manifest both mentally and physically and may also contribute to some of the aforementioned conditions. But those who just find themselves on edge regularly may be better served by tucking into some CBD gummy bears than drinking a glass of wine or smoking a cigarette. For one, alcohol and tobacco are terrible for health, and alcohol can behave as a depressant.
Contrastingly, CBD stifles the stress hormone cortisol, which in turns leads to a more relaxed feeling throughout the body.