CBD for Depression: Medical Cannabidiol Health Research Guide + Dose Uses
Depression, also referred to as major depressive disorder, is an extremely common mental health condition that can have a profound impact on the way an individual thinks, feels, and acts. New research into CBD oil for depression and cannabidiol for depression reveals that hemp oil extracts and other CBD products may be able to function as powerful and effective natural antidepressants.
For some individuals diagnosed with depression, the condition can be relatively easy to move past. Other individuals with depression, however, may find the condition far more difficult to move past. The symptoms of depression include the feeling of sadness, loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, a lack of motivation, fatigue, low appetite, and feelings of worthlessness or guilt.
The symptoms of depression range in severity from mild to severe. Depression affects a surprisingly large amount of people — statistical data indicates the one in fifteen adults, or roughly 6.7 percent of the population, experience depression at least once per year.
There are several risk factors that can contribute to the development of depression, such as biochemical factors, genetics, personality aspects such as self-esteem, and environmental factors. The way in which depression is treated, however, is the same for most cases of depression.
Psychotherapy is an option for individuals seeking treatment for depression but the most common solution provided to individuals that suffer from depression is the use of antidepressant medications. These medications include Prozac and Zoloft.
While these medications are known to assist with the management of depressive conditions, they do cause a variety of unwanted side effects. Some of the side effects caused by antidepressant pharmaceutical medications include blurred vision, constipation, drowsiness, fatigue, increased appetite and weight gain, nausea, insomnia, and a loss of sexual health.
Fortunately, CBD, or cannabidiol, has been demonstrated to function as a highly effective antidepressant that is able to completely eliminate the symptoms of depression without causing any unwanted side effects.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the ways in which CBD can be used to treat depression and the scientific evidence behind how CBD interacts with the human brain. We’ll also examine the clinical evidence and trials that support the use of CBD for depression, as well as assess the best CBD dosages and products for depression.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, is a phytocannabinoid compound that is extracted from the cannabis sativa plant. The cannabis plant contains many different phytocannabinoid compounds — CBD is a specific set of cannabinoids that are able to interact with the human body.
CBD is very different from THC, which is the psychoactive compound associated with recreational cannabis use. Unlike THC, which can only be harvested from the cannabis plant at specific periods of growth from specific cannabis strains, CBD is found in virtually all parts of the cannabis plant, and is commonly extracted from industrial hemp.
The powerful natural health benefits delivered by CBD are what makes it so interesting as a potential solution to the treatment of depression and other health disorders. Research into the potential health benefits of CBD and other phytocannabinoids has been ongoing since the early 1990’s, but the recent relaxation of US medical marijuana laws has made it possible for clinical scientists to explore the wide range of health applications this unique compound offers.
CBD has been proven in multiple clinical investigations and trials to interact with the endocannabinoid system of the human body, providing a wide range of health benefits.
Clinical evidence demonstrates that CBD is able to minimize the inflammatory response of the human body, boost cognitive ability and mental function, enhance the function of the human immune system, assist with the treatment of epilepsy and other seizure disorders and, importantly, dramatically improve the symptoms of depression.
It’s important to note that CBD is very different from THC, and is not psychoactive. The health benefits of CBD are entirely separate from the psychoactive properties of THC, which makes it possible to purchase and use CBD products in 50 US states and a number of international countries without the need for a prescription in a completely legal manner.
While CBD is able to deliver a wide range of physiological health benefits, the way in which it interacts with the human brain has made it a highly attractive alternative therapy option for individuals that have been diagnosed with difficult-to-treat depression.
CBD is able to interact with receptors in the human brain that are responsible for mood balance without causing any unwanted side effects or dependency. One of the biggest advantages that CBD hold over traditional antidepressant medications, however, is the speed with which it is able to eliminate the symptoms of depression.
Unlike traditional pharmaceutical antidepressant medications and drugs, CBD has been demonstrated in a range of different clinical trials to provide near-instantaneous relief from depression. CBD can also be administered in a wide range of different application methods, such as CBD oil for depression, CBD supplements for depression, and even CBD soaps and CBD MCT oil.
The use of CBD for mental health conditions is widely supported by clinical science, with many human trials delivering concrete evidence of a powerful antidepressant and antipsychotic effect completely free from side effects.
How Does CBD Work?
CBD for depression works primarily by interacting with the endocannabinoid system of the human body. Every vertebrate organism on earth possesses a system called the endocannabinoid system, which is consists of receptors and endogenous cannabinoids that are manufactured inside the body.
CBD is an exogenous cannabinoid, which means it is created outside of the human body. Interestingly, however, exogenous cannabinoids are able to interact with and modulate the cannabinoid receptors found inside the endocannabinoid system.
Cannabinoid receptors have been proven in multiple clinical investigations to play an important role in a wide range of bodily functions, including the operation of the immune system, inflammatory response, neurotransmitter release and regulation, appetite response, nausea control, and even the way in which the digestive system and gastrointestinal tract absorbs nutrients from food.
The most interesting ability of CBD, however, is the way it can pass through the blood/brain barrier. This process allows CBD to enter the brain and interact with cannabinoid receptors within the brain itself, resulting in astounding neurochemical changes.
In most cases, individuals that suffer from depression are provided with antidepressant medications. These medications work by modulating specific receptors in the human brain in order to increase the total available levels of neurotransmitters such as noradrenaline and serotonin.
Modern neurological science is not completely sure why increasing the levels of these neurotransmitters is able to eliminate the symptoms of depression, but clinical evidence shows that pharmaceutical neurotransmitter modulation is far more effective than placebo in treating depression.
Pharmaceutical antidepressant medications are able to increase the levels of specific neurotransmitters, but do so at the cost of causing a wide range of unwanted side effects. CBD, however, has been demonstrated to modulate cannabinoid receptors in the human brain that are able to cause the exact same effect — increasing the levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, without causing any side effects at all.
CBD passes through the brain/blood barrier and enters the brain and then agitates specific cannabinoid receptors, resulting in neurochemical changes that can balance mood, eliminate the symptoms of depression, and even promote the growth of healthy new brain tissue.
In addition to providing benefits that eliminate the symptoms of depression, cannabidiol has been demonstrated in multiple clinical trials to assist with the management of other mental health conditions that are similar to depression.
CBD is able to help with the management of mental health conditions such as schizophrenia, anxiety, and PTSD. These mental health conditions are treated by CBD in the same way it treats depression — by modulating specific receptors in the human brain in order to promote healthier neurochemical balance.
The biggest difference between CBD and antidepressant medication is that CBD is able to provide the same benefits through the use of a completely natural compound extracted from plants that causes no side effects, as opposed to lab-synthesized chemicals that have a negative net health impact.
Can CBD Help With Depression?
The human endocannabinoid system is critical to a wide range of bodily functions, and consists of receptors found in the central nervous system, the peripheral nervous system, and the brain. Endocannabinoids are created by the human body to regulate a variety of systems such as sleep, stress, memory retention, anxiety, emotional response, mood control, and even the metabolism and immune system.
Interestingly, exogenous cannabinoids such as CBD are able to interact with the same receptors used by the human endocannabinoid system to pair with endogenous cannabinoids, but are much more effective. This means CBD and other exogenous cannabinoids deliver a more powerful effect, and can even prolong the functional lifespan of endogenous cannabinoids manufactured by the human body.
When exogenous cannabinoids such as CBD interact with the human brain, a number of health benefits occur that can assist with the management of depression.
CBD health benefits for depression:
- Improved mood
- Increased life satisfaction
- Improved energy levels
- Increased motivation
- Elevated emotional balance
- Decreased anxiety
- Minimized oxidative stress
- Minimized inflammation
CBD helps to manage the symptoms of depression by binding to specific regions in the brain that are responsible for the modulation of neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters are responsible for mood balance, thereby delivering elevated mood and decreased emotional instability and lethargy.
CBD can help to minimize many of the symptoms associated with depression. Many individuals diagnosed with depression experience a significant reduction in overall appetite response, which can result in unhealthy weight loss. CBD has been demonstrated to attenuate the regions of the brain associated with appetite control, resulting in significantly improve nutritional intake.
Similarly, CBD is able to reduce the impact of depression-induced insomnia in individuals diagnosed with the condition. CBD has been proven in a range of different clinical investigations and clinical trials to promote regular sleep patterns and healthy sleep.
Insomnia in individuals diagnosed with depression is often caused by depression-induced anxiety. Cannabidiol offers individuals with depression powerful and effective anti-anxiety anxiolytic benefits that can dramatically and rapidly minimize the compulsive and stressful thought patterns associated with anxiety.
The most effective way in which CBD assists with the management of depression and other mental health conditions, however, is by promoting higher levels of dopamine and serotonin in the brain. Increasing the levels of these two critical neurotransmitters gives the brain boost of happiness and pleasure, helping individuals diagnosed with depression in moving past the condition and living with healthy, regular mental function.
The Science Behind CBD and Depression
Modern medical science has revealed the specific mechanisms of action through cannabidiol is able to interact with the neurochemistry of the human brain and alleviate the symptoms of depression.
At all levels of dosage, cannabidiol passes into the bloodstream and through the blood-brain barrier, then activates a specific receptor in the brain called the 5-HT1A hydroxytryptamine serotonin receptor. The 5-HT1A receptor is one of several neurotransmitter receptors that are found in the human brain, and is responsible for the release and reuptake of serotonin.
When cannabidiol enters the brain, it activates the 5-HT1A receptor and triggers a number of different neurochemical reactions that catalyze a broad spectrum of chemical messages between the cells of the human body. These neurotransmitters are found across the entire human body.
Cannabidiol activates the 5-HT1A receptor in a very similar way to the way traditional pharmaceutical antidepressant modulate receptors that are associated with neurotransmitter reuptake. In this way, cannabidiol is able to increase the overall levels of serotonin and dopamine in the human brain, resulting in greatly increased mood and emotional balance.
Interestingly, the activation of the 5-HT1A receptor by exogenous cannabinoids such as cannabidiol has been observed in a number of clinical investigations to suppress the activation of the “fight or flight” function of the human brain, a property referred to as sympathoinhibition.
This process allows CBD to provide individuals that have been diagnosed with depression to minimize their anxiety levels and lower stress levels while increasing the levels of positive “happy” neurotransmitters.
Most importantly, CBD provides all of these health benefits without causing any of the negative health effects that are associated with traditional pharmaceutical antidepressant medications. In contrast, CBD is able to deliver a wide range of accessory health benefits that include improved immune system function and overall improved bodily health.
The use of cannabidiol to treat the symptoms of depression is supported by a large body of clinical evidence, with both in vivo and in vitro trials demonstrating that it can deliver a profound positive impact on mental health.
One of the most widely-cited clinical investigations into the efficacy of CBD in treating depression was published in 2014. In the trial, an animal model was used to assess the impact of CBD on animals tested with a variety of behavioral tests that included the forced swimming test and the elevated plus maze subsequent to CBD administration.
The study concluded that CBD caused a strong interaction with the 5-HT1A neuroreceptor, delivering strong and effective antidepressant-line and anxiolytic health benefits.
A more recent clinical investigation published in 2018 found that the antidepressant-like benefits of CBD are dependant on the levels of serotonin in the human brain, demonstrating a clear link between CBD and positive mood neurotransmitters.
The clinical investigation found that a relatively small dose of 10mg/kg of body weight was able to induce serotonergic action within the brain, causing the brain to create and release higher levels of serotonin.
One of the most interesting clinical trials assessing the way in which CBD interacts with the human brain, however, was published in 2018. The study found that CBD doses between 7mg and 30mg per kilogram of body weight were able to increase serotonin levels in several regions of the brain including the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus.
The clinical investigation concluded that CBD delivers rapid and sustained antidepressant-like effects, suggesting that CBD could potentially be used as a new fast-acting antidepressant drug.
To date, there have been very few human clinical trials assessing the use of CBD specifically for the treatment of depression, but there are a number of human clinical trials assessing the use of CBD for anxiety and schizophrenia that have provided concrete evidence of serotonin level modulation.
While current clinical evidence can’t be considered absolute proof that CBD is the ideal solution to depression, anecdotal evidence provided by individuals that use CBD on a daily basis to manage the symptoms of depression is extremely promising overall.
CBD Dosage for Depression
CBD dosage is a highly subjective process and varies greatly between individuals. There are many factors that can influence the efficacy of a CBD dose, such as metabolic rate, body weight, existing health conditions, and the desired health benefit.
In clinical trials, doses of 7mg per kilogram of body weight have been demonstrated to provide rapid and sustained relief from the symptoms of CBD in animal models. Other clinical trials assessing the use of CBD for mental health conditions such as anxiety have used far higher doses ranging in the 600mg single dose level.
Before beginning any CBD dosing routine, it’s important to consult with a registered medical professional or doctor to ensure that CBD is the right choice for you.
When beginning a CBD routine, many users choose to begin with a standard amount of 25mg and keep a regular journal of health benefits. Individuals with depression may choose to monitor the impact of CBD on their mood and motivation and adjust their dose accordingly.
Best CBD Products for Depression
There are some health conditions that CBD can help with that preclude the use of edible CBD products due to their reliance on the human digestive system, such as irritable bowel syndrome or nausea. As depression is a mental health condition, however, virtually any administration method can be used to access the health benefits CBD offers.
In order to maximize the benefits of CBD for depression, the most effective delivery method is likely to be administration processes that avoid the digestive system and provide CBD to the bloodstream as fast as possible, as close to the brain as possible.
For this reason, sublingual CBD oil drops for depression are a highly popular solution used by individuals diagnosed with depression.
Other CBD products that can be used to manage depression include:
- CBD oil
- CBD gummies
- CBD drops
- CBD edibles
CBD is an extremely safe natural compound. There is no way to “overdose” on CBD — even extremely high doses of 1500mg have been demonstrated in multiple clinical trials to be completely safe.
It is important to note, however, that CBD is known to induce a number of mild side effects in some individuals.
These CBD side effects include:
- Sleepiness or drowsiness
- Dry mouth
- Mild low blood pressure
- Decreased fertility
- Decreased cytochrome levels
It’s essential to consult with your doctor before beginning CBD dosage, as cannabidiol is known to inhibit the production of a specific enzyme in the liver called the CYP450 enzyme. This enzyme is essential to the metabolism of the following common drugs:
Q: What is CBD?
A: CBD, or cannabidiol, is a natural compound extracted from the hemp plant. CBD is not psychoactive and does not cause any negative side effects. CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system of the human body.
Q: Is CBD legal?
A: Because CBD is not psychoactive, it can be sold in almost every US state and a number of international countries under the condition that it contains less than 0.3 percent THC — which is the psychoactive compound in cannabis.
Q: Is CBD better than traditional antidepressants?
A: CBD has been demonstrated in clinical trials to deliver the same benefits as traditional pharmaceutical antidepressant drugs without causing any of the side effects they are associated with.
Q: Can CBD cure depression?
A: CBD has not been proven to cure depression, but is able to significantly minimize the symptoms of the condition.
Q: is CBD safe?
A: CBD causes no negative health impact and has been proven to be safe even in extremely high doses.
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