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CBD and Depression CBD and Health CBD Benefits

CBD and Depression: What The Research Tells Us [How the Novel Cannabinoid Works]

CBD has been linked to positive effects on depression. However inconclusive, the incredible amount of anecdotal evidence to support it becomes overwhelming.

But how do CBD and depression interact? What makes CBD a valid alternative to standard antidepressants, or what makes it unreasonable to treat depression?

What is CBD?

The cannabis plant is composed of a variety of components. These include terpenes, flavonoids, and, most importantly, cannabinoids.

Cannabinoids are the main building blocks of the cannabis plant. They’re the reason for the popularity of cannabis over the decades. In other words, it is cannabinoids that provide the characteristic effects of cannabis on the body.

There are a total of 113 cannabinoids identified to date. Although they have all been around for a long time, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has been the most popular. This fame is not duly merited. THC is a psychoactive cannabinoid and the reason why marijuana gets you ‘high.’

Cannabidiol, better known as CBD, is also part of the list of cannabinoids found in the Cannabis Sativa plant. But while THC can be obtained in significant quantities from the marijuana plant, CBD is not.

Most of the CBD products in the market today are made with CBD extracted from hemp.

Hemp is a non-psychoactive version of Cannabis Sativa that contains considerable quantities of CBD. Because the amount of CBD in hemp is more significant and harvesting hemp is federally legal across all 50 states, most companies get their CBD extract from the hemp plant.

Effects of CBD [Why It’s Associated with Depression]

CBD has been associated with a long list of positive effects on the body. This includes antiemetic properties and pain relief, to mention a few. But not all of these are related to depression or the ease of its symptoms.

The effects of CBD on depression are mostly related to symptom relief. However, they are speculative and not based on conclusive clinical research. These are the effects that CBD could have on depression:

1. Antipsychotic Properties

2. May Act as an Antioxidant

3. Combats Anxiety

4. Manages Nerve and Muscle Pain

Although research is scarce and the evidence remains inconclusive, the amount of anecdotal evidence obtained from frequent consumers is overwhelming.

Antioxidants in CBD products are usually found in CBD oils made with full-spectrum extracts. By maintaining a balanced combination of CBD with other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids, full-spectrum oils may offer more than just the benefits associated with CBD alone.

Not only that:

CBD oils are made using a carrier oil or base. This base may vary depending on the manufacturer. But regardless of what base is used, it usually provides other positive effects on the body. For instance, when using hemp seed oil as a carrier, CBD oils may also bring Omega-6s and Omega-3s, which act as antioxidants that work as neuroprotective substances.

CBD has also been shown to provide better sleep and relaxing effects. Which in return may alleviate common symptoms of anxiety and depression, like restlessness or insomnia.

Finally, the analgesic properties of CBD (although they are not conclusively proven), may also provide relief to common depression symptoms like muscle pain and headaches. In some cases, physical pain may also be a trigger for episodes of depression. This vicious cycle of pain-causing depression and depression-causing pain may be relieved by dosing with the right amount of CBD.

What Are Antidepressants?

CBD oils are made using a carrier oil or base. This base may vary depending on the manufacturer. But regardless of what base is used, it usually provides other positive effects on the body. For instance, when using hemp seed oil as a carrier, CBD oils may also bring Omega-6s and Omega-3s, which act as antioxidants that work as neuroprotective substances.

CBD has also been shown to provide better sleep and relaxing effects. Which in return may alleviate common symptoms of anxiety and depression, like restlessness or insomnia.

Finally, the analgesic properties of CBD (although they are not conclusively proven) may also provide relief to common depression symptoms like muscle pain and headaches. In some cases, physical pain may also be a trigger for episodes of depression. This vicious cycle of pain-causing depression and depression-causing pain may be relieved by dosing with the right amount of CBD.

Types of Antidepressants

Depression is commonly interpreted to be directly related to the levels of Serotonin and Norepinephrine in the brain. However, this is not the only cause of depression.

Serotonin is an involved neurotransmitter with multifaceted functions that include modulating mood, cognition, reward, learning, memory, and other psychological processes.

Norepinephrine is another organically generated chemical by the brain that acts as a neurotransmitter and hormone.

Antidepressants are commonly intended to alter or modify the levels of both components in the brain. These are the main classes of antidepressants used on patients diagnosed with depression:

1. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)

SSRIs are the most widely used class of prescription antidepressants. Their goal is to increase the serotonin level found in the brain, whether it is synthetically or organically.

SSRIs' common side effects include headaches, insomnia, restlessness, variations in weight, and sexual dysfunction.

2. Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs) 

SNRIs are intended to increase the levels of norepinephrine and serotonin found in the brain. SNRIs block the uptake of both serotonin and norepinephrine, guaranteeing that both neurotransmitters are free in the tissues surrounding the nerves. 

3. Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs)

TCAs work by increasing the amount of norepinephrine in the brain. They may also have antihistaminic and anticholinergic properties.

4. Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs)

MAOIs modify the levels of norepinephrine and serotonin, but alternatively, they also impact dopamine levels. MAOIs act as an inhibitor of Monoamine Oxidase, an enzyme that breaks down all three neurotransmitters. By inhibiting the enzyme, MAOIs intend to preserve the concentration of the three neurotransmitters in the brain.

Monoamine Oxidase also breaks down Tyramine, a chemical known to elevate blood pressure. Because MAOIs inhibit Monoamine Oxidase, the levels of Tyramine in the body may rise, and elevated blood pressure becomes a common side effect of MAOIs.

Other common side effects of MAOIs include headaches, palpitations, chest pain, muscle soreness, nausea, vomiting, sweating, and dilated pupils.

CBD vs. Antidepressants [Differences]

CBD is a component that doesn’t alter the production of serotonin or norepinephrine directly. On the other hand, CBD is suspected of changing how your body and brain interact with the existing serotonin levels present in the brain.

CBD does this by interacting with the endocannabinoid receptors in your body. How this affects the synergy with serotonin is still a mystery waiting to be solved. There are numerous clinical studies ongoing that aim to determine just how this interaction works.

The nature of CBD’s interaction with the body leads us to consider the possibility that the long-term effects of CBD on the body could be much less harmful than those associated with standard antidepressants.

Common Side Effects of CBD

Most of the side effects that result from CBD consumption can be managed by a change in dose or should disappear after your body forms tolerance to the substance. These are some of the most common side effects of CBD:

1. Nausea

2. Drowsiness

3. Upset Stomach

4. Fatigue

5. Reduced Appetite

Can You Use CBD for Depression?

Regardless of our CBD expertise, unfortunately, we’re not qualified to prescribe, suggest, or medicate anyone with CBD for depression. We recommend that you visit a licensed physician who can assess your specific condition and decide whether CBD makes sense or not.

The dose for CBD on depression will probably look very different from the CBD quantity you would use for energy and focus. Higher doses of CBD usually mean an intention to promote relaxation, and smaller amounts are generally intended to promote focus, creativity, and life.

Is CBD Approved by the FDA as an Antidepressant?

It is not. There is only one FDA approved prescription CBD medication in the U.S. This product is sold under the brand name Epidiolex and is used to treat rare varieties of epilepsy, primarily Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.

CBD and depression are strongly correlated, but the best CBD for anxiety and depression will always be a regulated product. Unfortunately, there is no FDA approved prescription medication for depression.

However, many regulated and legal CBD products comply with quality and safety standards for dietary supplements. This means that CBD is not meant to be used as a medication and should only be so if a licensed physician suggests it.

Conclusion

There is currently no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ when it comes to using CBD oil for anxiety and depression. The truth is that conclusive results are absent to determine if CBD and depression pair well together. However, anecdotal evidence supports the use of CBD on depression and anxiety.

The benefits that CBD provides on depression include treating symptoms of pain and insomnia. But aside from the direct effects of CBD on the body, another positive aspect is its potential to provide a way to reduce the intake of other harmful substances like commonly prescribed antidepressants.

Hemmfy articles and blogs are meant to entertain and educate. However, we are not medical professionals and do not intend to give medical advice through them.

The knowledge around CBD and other cannabis-derived products is growing and constantly changing, as does their legal status. Hence, we recommend checking with your local authorities and a licensed physician prior to consumption.

Simon Cartagena

Simon Cartagena is a full-time cannabis copywriter. This has led him to write for companies like Hemmfy.com where he acts as Senior Content Writer and other world-renowned cannabis publications. Simon has created Content Marketing strategies and articles that have helped company revenues increase by up to 1,000%. Simon’s goal is to help people understand cannabis in an industry where misinformation seems to be predominant.