Besides its wellness benefits, research is assessing CBD oil’s effectiveness in easing the symptoms of depression. Here’s what we know so far. Learn more! Cannabidiol (CBD) in the Self-Treatment of Depression-Exploratory Study and a New Phenomenon of Concern for Psychiatrists This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Choose from our range of CBD Oil For Depression – Benefits of CBD products. Shop now and get Free UK Delivery on orders over £30+. Switch to our Vape Refills today!
Could CBD Oil Ease Symptoms Of Depression?
Research into the health benefits of CBD products is moving beyond anecdotal evidence. An increasing number of scientific studies are being conducted in order to understand its effectiveness as a natural therapeutic aid. In 2020, a study from the University of Auckland sought to understand the effects of CBD being included in the treatment of participants diagnosed with depression. An audit of 400 patients showed a significant improvement of symptoms in participants who received CBD.
Anxiety and depression often exist together. A person diagnosed with depression is likely to also exhibit some symptoms of anxiety and vice-versa. In other words, they are comorbid. So, reducing symptoms of anxiety will likely have a positive impact on someone’s depression too. Although research is still at a very nascent stage, there have been several studies that showed the effectiveness of CBD in reducing the physiological symptoms of anxiety.
How Can You Start Using CBD to Treat Depression?
For non-pharmacological depression treatment, CBD oil is available in a number of different forms. There are oils and capsules to choose from depending on the strength and dosage of CBD you need. Each method of ingestion produces a different effect. For instance, if you choose to include it in your food, the effect will be milder but is likely to last longer.
CBD products are available through GPs and licenced clinics such as The Pain Clinic. We recommend that you consult a medical practitioner before including CBD in your treatment plan. A qualified practitioner will be able to assess whether CBD will help in your case and prescribe a dosage that would work for you.
CBD is processed differently by each person depending on their body composition. Although CBD has a high safety profile and is generally well-tolerated, some mild side effects have been observed.
How Can CBD Help Reduce Symptoms of Depression?
CBD is a naturally occurring chemical extracted from the cannabis plant. A common misconception is that CBD consumption comes with an accompanying ‘high’ that cannabis is infamous for. In fact, CBD or cannabidiol, does not have any psychoactive properties as it is devoid of THC which is responsible for this.
What CBD is able to do is interact and bind with various receptors in our body to create positive changes that we experience.
Serotonin, a.k.a. the happy hormone, has a big role to play in the state of your mental health. In fact, serotonin supplements are often part of the treatment plan for depression. CBD is able to activate serotonin receptors to help alleviate your state of mind.
Another hormone that plays a key part in affecting your mental health is cortisol. This ‘stress’ hormone pushes your body to stay alert. It is a crucial trigger of stress and CBD oil for anxiety. When produced in excess, it can negatively impact your mental health. CBD is able to reduce the production of cortisol and consequently, bring down its stressful effects.
Chronic pain and depression have strong links to one another. We don’t often connect alterations in our mental health to the development of fairly common issues like sciatica or lower back pain. However, chronic pain can have a debilitating effect on your mental health. CBD has been used to alleviate some of this pain and as a result, improve general mental well-being as well as sleep cycles.
CBD Oil May Help Alleviate Your Depression
There are a number of factors in play with complex mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. There is rarely one pill that can address all its facets, and therapy is key to understanding how to cope. A common misconception about mental health conditions is that they reside solely in the mind with no underlying physiological basis. When in fact, hormonal imbalances, the state of your physical health and experiences with chronic pain (among other factors) all impact mental health. As research progresses, the role that CBD is poised to play is to address several of these physiological symptoms in the hope that it will put you in a better position to create a balance in your mental well-being.
Cannabidiol (CBD) in the Self-Treatment of Depression-Exploratory Study and a New Phenomenon of Concern for Psychiatrists
This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
The raw data supporting the conclusions of this article will be made available by the authors, without undue reservation.
Cannabis sativa, whose flowers are also known as marijuana or marihuana, is a recreational plant that contains many chemicals that are constantly being studied by scientists around the world. One of these substances is cannabidiol (CBD), which has gained widespread popularity on the internet as a cure for mental health problems, leading many people to use CBD to self-treat depression and anxiety. This article presents an exploratory cohort study (n = 90) of a group of people aged 16–69 using CBD to self-heal depression symptoms. The survey included basic sociodemographic questionnaire and validated Hospital Depression and Anxiety Scale. And was distributed via the Internet. The results were statistically analyzed. High school degree was the most commonly held education (46%), large city was the most popular place of living (33%) and majority of the respondents have a full-time job (53%). Only 19% of the respondents consult their doctor or pharmacists about taking CBD. On the group of psychiatric patients, only 49% of respondents tell their psychiatrist about using the compound. Psychiatrists should be aware of CBD use in their patients during their daily practice, as CBD use can be found within people from all walks of life, and due to public interest, there is a need for education and research on the efficacy and safety of CBD use for mental disorders.
Cannabis sativa, commonly known as marijuana or marihuana, is a plant with psychoactive properties used primarily for recreational purposes. However, in recent years, numerous studies have been conducted that have found its beneficial effects in the treatment of many diseases (1). Marijuana-derived compounds, known for their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antinecrotic properties, are considered promising agents that are increasingly used in research related to Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, depression, anxiety disorders, and schizophrenia, as well as in the treatment of chronic pain (2–4). The substances contained in marijuana are called cannabinoid com-pounds. The most potent constituent of cannabis is natural tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is responsible for the psychoactive properties of marijuana (1). Among other compounds, one is especially notable–cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive compound which could be useful in depression treatment, as the studies have demon-strated the activity of CBD as a partial agonist of 5HT1a serotonin receptors, which could be beneficial in the treatment of depression and anxiety by using this substance, but this still requires extensive research (5).
CBD appears to be relatively safe substance in preliminary studies, but there are several side effects that should be mentioned. CBD is one of the better tolerated substances compared to THC, mainly due to its lower addictive potential (6). In the available literature, the adverse effects described mainly refer to studies in animal models and depend on the dose taken and the duration of use. The use of CBD in animals resulted in the development of drug toxicity, increased fetal mortality, liver cell damage, inhibition of spermatogenesis, and hypotension, but it should be mentioned that the doses used in animals were above the recommended amounts for humans (7). The most common side effects reported in studies of cannabinoid use for epilepsy or psychotic disorders were fatigue, diarrhea, and appetite disturbances (8). Other side effects reported after CBD use included vomiting, insomnia, and hepatologic disorders. Nonetheless, in certain conditions CBD could be dangerous, as it is metabolized in the liver with the involvement of CYP3A4, which affects its interactions with many drugs that are also processed with the involvement of this enzyme system (including anti-fungals, clarithromycin, or rifampicin) (7).
The public is very interested in natural methods to treat depression. Scientists are focusing on the study of dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a psychedelic substance found in many plants, and psilocybin, a psychedelic that occurs naturally in mushrooms such as psilocybin cubensis (9). The popularity of CBD in the treatment of depression is as great in society as the popularity of the use of DMT or psilocybin-on October 15, 2021, the Google search engine returns 6,370,000 results for the term “CBD depression treatment,” and information on this topic can be found on such well-known websites as the New York Times or Forbes (10, 11). Despite the great popularity that the use of CBD for depression enjoys on the Internet, in our opinion, the scientific data on the efficacy and safety of this substance in the treatment of depression remain sparse. It is not difficult to find groups on social media (e.g., Facebook) where experiences are shared about the use of CBD for self-care for mental health and where people (often without medical training) recommend certain products from the Internet along with dosage. Self-care for mental health has its limits, and that is when patients turn to supplements and products purchased online without the knowledge of their doctor, as this is potentially dangerous. There are documented over-the-counter uses of St. John’s wort in combination with serotonin reuptake inhibitors that resulted in the development of serotonin syndrome (12). Because we do not know much about CBD, we believe that people who use CBD to self-medicate should be closely monitored. We were unable to find appropriate studies describing this phenomenon in any disease, although previous literature suggests that self-medication with CBD exists for chronic pain, anxiety, and depression (13). In our opinion, the availability of CBD on the retail market is disproportionate to the number of scientific reports on the efficacy and safety of CBD, because in many European countries such as Austria, Spain, Sweden, Germany or France you can easily buy CBD legally (14). This situation is potentially dangerous from a medical perspective for both patients and medical staff, as people risk potentially treacherous intoxication by searching social media for unverified data on the ingestion of rather unknown substances. Therefore, as a group of psychiatrists, we decided to investigate the problematic phenomenon of using CBD to self-treat depressive symptoms, as it is important to learn more about the people who choose to do so. We aimed to explore the basic demographic and epidemiological characteristics of people who use CBD to self-treat their depressive disorders and to demonstrate the fact that this phenomenon exists. The study was exploratory in nature, therefore we did not rise any particular research questions.
Materials and Methods
The study was designed by psychiatrists from the Department of Psychiatry at the Medical University of Silesia in Katowice and was conducted according to the guide-lines of the Declaration of Helsinki and Good Clinical Practice. It included 23 questions in Polish in the areas of: general sociodemographic parameters, general psychiatric interview of patients, questions related to CBD intake: frequency, dosage and form of consumption, improvement of wellbeing after CBD intake and additionally included the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) questionnaire. The HADS is one of the most widely used self-assessment questionnaires for screening anxiety/depression symptoms and focuses mainly on the cognitive and psychological aspects. It is used in both the general medical population and the healthy population. The HADS consists of a total of 14 items on 2 separate subscales: Anxiety (HADS-A) and Depression (HADS-D), and the total score ranges from 0 to 42 points. Currently, the categorization system includes several groups: 0–7, normal; 8–10, mild; 11–15, moderate; over 16, severe (15). The survey was uploaded to the Internet via Google Forms, Google’s original online survey tool. The form consisted of 5 separate pages-consent to the study, questions about demographic data, questions about previous psychiatric treatment, questions about CBD use, and the HADS questionnaire. Data were collected via Facebook from August 27, 2021 to September 16, 2021. We asked administrators of depression, mental illness, and CBD use groups and websites to help us collect data, and they actively provided a link to the form on their websites, therefore we could not estimate the amount of people who received the link to the survey. Incomplete questionnaires were rejected. To ensure complete anonymity, as marihuana is still generally a taboo subject, no personal or contact information was collected, including email addresses or IP addresses that would identify respondents. For that reason, we had to avoid sampling methods that would be normally used in such study. We had to avoid using data collection enhancement methods, as they would require us to use more complex technical methods that would not allow data anonymization. Participation in the survey was voluntary, respondents were informed of the purpose of the survey and were required to answer in the affirmative to the first question “I use CBD oil to improve symptoms of depression and agree to participate in this anonymous study (or as a minor, I have the consent of my legal guardian to participate),” otherwise they were not given access to the questionnaire. Ninety seven responses were collected, of which 7 subjects, after reading the manual, did not agree to submit their anonymous responses to analysis.
The collected data were analyzed using STATISTICA 13.0 software (StatSoft, Kraków, Poland). Qualitative variables were tested using the chi-square test. The Shapiro-Wilk test was used to check whether quantitative variables conformed to the normal distribution. The test revealed that not all variables conformed to the normal distribution. In case of non-normal distribution, Mann-Whitney U test was used to compare two independent groups, while Kruskal-Wallis test was used to compare multiple independent samples. Spearman’s rank order correlation test was used to test the relationship between the variables. Statistical significance was assumed at p < 0.05.
We collected 90 correctly completed questionnaires from the respondents. The study comprised a group of males and females of comparable size who did not differ significantly in age, education and type of occupation. One person reported being non-binary and was excluded from the statistical analysis. The youngest respondent was 16 years old and the oldest was 69 years old. High school degree was the most commonly held education (46%), large city was the most popular place of living (33%) and majority of the respondents have a full-time job (53%). Majority of the respondents claim that they either trust or probably trust the psychiatrists. The detailed characteristics of the study population are shown in Table 1 . There is no difference in trust in psychiatrists between the groups. Respondents’ place of residence differs between gender groups, but the significance level is borderline, which could be tested if a larger sample of respondents were used.
|Education||High school degree||46%||43%||50%|
|Higher bachelor’s degree or equivalent||14%||14%||15%|
|Higher masters or equivalent||30%||33%||27%|
|Doctorate or higher academic title||1%||2%||0%|
|Place of living||Village||21%||26%||17%|
|Small town (up to 50,000 inhabitants)||21%||12%||29%|
|Medium-sized city (from 50,000 to 200,000 inhabitants)||25%||19%||29%|
|A large city (over 200,000 inhabitants)||33%||43%||25%|
|Type of work||Full-time job||53%||50%||54%|
|Another form of employment||10%||10%||10%|
|Do you trust psychiatrists?||Definitely not||6%||2%||8%|
Majority of the respondents were or still are treated by a psychiatrist (55%) and started using CBD for depressed mood (69%). The most commonly consumed other psychoactive substance was caffeine (47%). Only 19% of respondents consulted a doctor or pharmacists about taking CBD, and most respondents (59%) consume CBD daily. Majority of the respondents (57%) are currently under the supervision of a psychiatrist and a little over half (51%) do not tell their psychiatrists about their use of CBD. Majority of respondents said they felt better after CBD treatment (86%). The detailed characteristics of CBD use for self-treatment of mental disorders are shown in Table 2 .
CBD consumption characteristics.
|Have you ever been diagnosed / diagnosed or treated / treated by a psychiatrist?||Yes||55%||40%||67%|
|Answers only from the group of people who have ever been diagnosed or treated by a psychiatrist (n = 50)||Why did you receive psychiatric treatment?||Anxiety disorders||76%||94%||66%|
|Bipolar affective disorder||4%||0%||6%|
|Does your psychiatrist know you are taking CBD?||Yes||49%||47%||50%|
|Are you undergoing psychiatric treatment right now?||Yes||57%||41%||66%|
|Why did you start to use CBD?||Depressed mood||69%||74%||65%|
|Problems with concentration||40%||33%||46%|
|What other psychoactive substances are you using?||Caffeine||47%||55%||40%|
|Where did you first heard of CBD?||Internet||62%||76%||50%|
|Have you consulted CBD consumption with a doctor or a pharmacist?||Yes||19%||14%||23%|
|Where do you buy CBD most often?||Online shop||66%||67%||65%|
|What form do you most often consume CBD?||CBD oil||73%||62%||83%|
|Pure CBD in the form of a spray||1%||0%||2%|
|How often do you consume CBD?||Every day||59%||60%||58%|
|A few times a week||22%||21%||23%|
|Several times a month||13%||10%||17%|
|Several times a year||4%||7%||2%|
|Do you usually measure the same doses of CBD?||No, I’m not measuring my doses||38%||43%||33%|
|Yes, 1–50 milligrams a day||39%||33%||44%|
|Yes, 51 to 100 milligrams a day||9%||10%||8%|
|Yes, 101 to 150 milligrams a day||9%||10%||8%|
|Yes, 151 to 200 milligrams a day||3%||5%||2%|
|More than 200 milligrams a day||2%||0%||4%|
Women were more likely to be diagnosed or treated by a psychiatrist compared to men (χ 2 =; 6.19 p = 0.01; chi-square test). Among the psychiatric disorders treated, men were significantly more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety disorders (χ 2 = 4.87; p = 0.027; chi-square test). No significant difference was found between genders for the other disorders. Women were significantly more likely than men to take CBD due to insomnia (χ 2 = 5.07; p = 0.024) and energy depletion (χ 2 = 3.72; p = 0.05 (borderline); chi-square test). Men were significantly more likely than women to use THC (χ 2 = 5; p = 0.025) and alcohol (χ 2 = 7.06; p = 0.008 chi-square test).
Men were significantly more likely than women to learn about CBD from the Internet, while women learned from friends and family (χ 2 = 8.61; p = 0.04 chi-square test). Respondents most frequently purchased CBD from online stores, while the most common form of CBD consumption was CBD oil, which was significantly more frequently consumed by women (χ 2 = 7.12; p = 0.03 chi-square test).
Majority of the respondents (53%) claim that CBD made them feel overall better and 88% of the respondents would more likely take CBD than a prescription drug from a psychiatrist. Table 3 shows detailed psychiatric outcome analysis for respondents using CBD.
Assessment of CBD effects on mental health of respondents.
|Did CBD make you feel overall better?||Definitely not||6%||7%||4%|
|With your current knowledge, would you be more likely to take CBD or prescription drugs from a psychiatrist?||Prescription drugs||12%||64%||36%|
|HADS categories in anxiety subscale||Normal||31%||43%||21%|
|HADS categories in depression subscale||Normal||53%||52%||54%|
Out of respondents who are or were treated by a psychiatrist, the most commonly drugs prescribed were selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (16%). Table 4 shows which prescription medications were or are being taken by respondents. Greater improvement in wellbeing was reported by younger respondents (r = −0.22; p < 0.02; Spearman's rank-order correlation). There was no correlation between reported improvement in wellbeing after CBD use and: (1) frequency of CBD use, (2) amount of CBD dose taken, or (3) form of CBD use.
Psychiatric medications taken by respondents.
|Medications taken by respondents in the past||Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors||16%|
|Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors||12%|
|Monoamine oxidase inhibitors||2%|
|I do not remember the names||16%|
|I have never received any prescription drugs from my psychiatrist||7%|
|Medications currently taken by respondents||Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors||8%|
|Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors||8%|
|I am currently not using any prescription drugs||38%|
Under the HADS Anxiety subscale, 69% of respondents qualified for the group that exceeded the norm criteria (score > 7 points), while in the case of the HADS sub-scale, 47% exceeded this cut-off point.
93% of the respondents did not observe any negative effects of CBD consumption. Two respondents reported the occurrence of anxiety disorders during therapy, while 1 respondent reported the following symptoms: depressed mood, addiction, diarrhea, xerostomia.
Only 17% of respondents reported that they were currently taking psychotropic drugs. This group is too small to perform a statistical analysis using the above statistical tests. 49% of respondents admit to having taken the above drugs in their lifetime. Individuals who admit to taking psychotropic drugs in the past are significantly more likely to trust psychiatrists (p < 0.0001; Mann Whitney U test).
The path to the use of CBD in psychiatry is partially clear, as CBD has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a drug for the treatment of drug-resistant epilepsy, suggesting that the compound has a satisfactory long-term safety profile for this neurological condition (16). Data on the benefits of CBD in reducing the severity of depressive symptoms and anxiety are limited but promising. Some studies show that CBD is useful in treating depression, anxiety, sleep disorders and even problematic cannabis use, as well as in reducing the positive symptoms of schizophrenia, with little to no side effects such as diarrhea, which decreased over time (17, 18). Clinical studies are also encouraged by the authors of publications summarizing the achievements of science in the field of CBD use in psychiatry. They point out that studies in larger groups of people are necessary not only to determine the safety and usefulness of the substances in psychiatric treatment, but also to determine the efficacy of the treatment in the context of differences in symptoms of gender disorders, since most clinical trials have been conducted mainly in men (19, 20). There is still too many question marks to not monitor people who use CBD on their own. The situation in which patients decide to self-medicate their symptoms with a drug for which there is, for the time being, limited evidence of efficacy and safety is potentially dangerous because, apart from the side effects, such actions may worsen their mental state through the natural progression of depressive disorders, especially since some respondents choose to take more than CBD, including THC or hallucinogens, which may not be neutral among respondents.
The survey involved people of different ages (both minors and retirees), with different levels of education, and living in both rural and urban communities, which means that the use of CBD for self-treatment of depression is not limited to certain social groups. This information may be useful in further planning of scientific and educational activities in this area.
When analyzing the above responses, it should first be noted that only 19% of respondents consulted their doctor or pharmacist about taking CBD. At the same time, in the group of psychiatric patients, only 49% of respondents informed their psychiatrist about the use of CBD during psychiatric treatment. This situation is potentially dangerous because when patients buy CBD outside the pharmacy, this sale escapes the control of the pharmaceutical regulatory authority, which may encourage the accidental ingestion of other substances than intended, because when sales are outside the control of pharmaceutical regulators, consumers need to trust the honesty of the sellers. The situation of physicians and pharmacists being informed by the patient of the use of a psychoactive substance that is not an approved drug for the condition being treated is also extremely difficult. Categorical prohibition is unlikely to be effective, but it will limit the patient’s honesty at subsequent visits, and acceptance of this state of affairs means that the patient accepts responsibility-at least in part – for the possible adverse effects of taking a psychoactive substance. The situation of physicians and pharmacists will not improve until they have accurate knowledge of the effects of CBD in various clinical situations and of interactions with the most common psychotropic drugs. There is an urgent need to complete this knowledge.
An important element in the mystery of the CBD phenomenon is the chemical composition of the oil itself or the dried fruit you buy. You should keep in mind that in addition to CBD and other cannabinoids, there are substances from other chemical groups, such as terpenoids, flavonoids, and alkaloids. It is possible that these substances may have an impact on the patient’s wellbeing (21). It is important to know this because a possible complex antidepressant effect of Cannabis sativa- derived substances cannot be excluded. Research suggests that CB1 and CB2 receptors are associated with depression and bipolar disorder, and a single nucleotide polymorphism in the CB1 receptor has been observed in patients with treatment-resistant depression (22). CBD is an agonist of the 5HT-1A receptor, which in combination with its action on cannabinoid receptors may lead to a new unique effect (5).
As mentioned in the introduction, the media is eagerly interested in the topic of using CBD to treat depression, and society is picking up on the topic in social media. In public discourse, healthcare professionals should stick to facts. There is not enough data to conclusively confirm or rule out the claim that CBD is useful in treating mental illness. Given the social aspect of CBD use, further research by interdisciplinary teams made up of psychiatrists and pharmacists seems well warranted.
The responses collected shed light on another aspect. When planning further research on the use of CBD to improve symptoms of depressive disorders, it is important to pay attention to validated instruments that help in the diagnosis of depression. The responses to the question about reasons for starting CBD use may suggest that although we asked about self-treatment of depression, and this was clearly explained in the survey instructions and in the first question, some of the public may not fully understand the nature of this disorder. Patients could be suffering from major depressive disorder or mixed depression-anxiety disorder, and since it makes a difference in terms of the proper medical solutions offered byphysicians, it may not make a difference to patients. They might just call both disorders “depression,” whereas according to our HADS-A and HADS-D results, anxiety is actually more prevalent in our study group. Differentiating the causes of depressive disorders on the basis of the currently used International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems will make it possible to reduce methodological errors, contribute to a more rapid resolution of scientific problems and avoid inaccuracy in providing data to other scientists.
This study is probably the only study to examine the extent of self-treatment of depression with CBD, but it is not free of limitations. The data was collected during COVID-19 pandemic, which could have an impact on the respondents wellbeing in terms of depressive and anxiety symptoms. Due to anonymity of the study, the study was anonymous and was not prospective, therefore, we could not explain if CBD actually helps people who use the substance. The survey was conducted over the Internet, which limits the ability to rule out respondent error in completing the survey and prevents intentional bias from being ruled out. A small group of respondents does not allow for indepth statistical analysis and it is not necessarily representative for the population; furthermore, the selection of the group depends on activity on the Internet. However, the exploratory nature of this study provides solid justification for further research and analysis in this area.
Psychiatrists should be aware of CBD use in their patients during their daily practice, as CBD use can be found within people from all walks of life for self-treatment of depression due to depressed mood. Due to public interest, there is a need for education and research on the efficacy and safety of CBD use for mental disorders.
Data Availability Statement
The raw data supporting the conclusions of this article will be made available by the authors, without undue reservation.
Ethical review and approval was not required for the study on human participants in accordance with the local legislation and institutional requirements. Written informed consent from the participants’ legal guardian/next of kin was not required to participate in this study in accordance with the national legislation and the institutional requirements.
GW: conceptualization, project administration, and visualization. GW and MS: methodology and software. GW and RP: validation and writing—review and editing. GW, IS, and MS: formal analysis, investigation, and writing—original draft preparation. GW and IS: resources. MS: data curation. PG and RP: supervision. All authors contributed to the article and approved the submitted version.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.
All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of the publisher, the editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in this article, or claim that may be made by its manufacturer, is not guaranteed or endorsed by the publisher.
The authors would like to thank Kombinat Konopny, HempNation, Dr. Konopny Siedlce, and Depresja, Stany Lekowe, Ataki Paniki, Fobie. Grupa integracyjna. Facebook group for making their networking channels available so the authors could collect the data.
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CBD OIL FOR DEPRESSION
Depression and anxiety are two of the most common mental issues that most of us will face, and left untreated can have a huge impact on our lives.
With a growing awareness over the last 30 years on the importance of mental health, and an increasing prevalence of anxiety disorders, it is becoming ever more important to find ways of improving our mental health.
Depression can be caused by a number of things, from a stressful or traumatic life event, to abnormal neurotransmitter activity. In the case of abnormal neurotransmitter activity, prescription medications can be used to adjust the balance in the brain, but no prescription medication can rectify a traumatic life event.
Whatever the cause, there is a growing body of evidence for the use of CBD products in a number of medical settings, including treating anxiety.
WHAT IS CBD OIL?
Cannabidiol CBD is one of many chemicals found in the cannabis plant, which is why it is known as a ‘cannabinoid’. CBD Oils can be made from one of three specific types of CBD:
- CBD Isolate – this is just cannabidiol without any other compounds.
- Broad Spectrum CBD – this is CBD plus the flavonoids and terpenes found in the cannabis plant.
- Full Spectrum CBD – this is CBD plus the flavonoids and terpenes found in the cannabis plant and the other main cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol- or ‘THC’ for short.
In the cannabis plant, the levels of CBD and levels of THC are inversely proportional – this means that cannabis plants with high levels of THC naturally have low levels of CBD. Plants with higher levels of CBD naturally have lower levels of THC, and if the level of THC is below 0.3%, then the plant is classified as a hemp plant.
This is why you will see many CBD products are ‘hemp derived’ – the cannabis plants harvested to extract the CBD have levels lower than 0.3% THC, and are therefore hemp plants!
Each type of CBD product includes different amounts of the other chemicals found in the hemp plant, with CBD isolate being the only one that doesn’t include any extras from the plant – literally just the CBD.
Broad spectrum CBD contains these extras found in the plant to benefit from the entourage effect. This is the observed action of the other chemicals in the plant working in synergy with the CBD to improve its effect. The only thing it doesn’t include is the THC – therefore there is no risk of any intoxication.
Full spectrum CBD is the only form that includes that last cannabinoid – THC – in the product. The levels of THC should be too low to cause intoxication, but there have been instances of Full Spectrum CBD products containing higher levels of THC than stated on the packaging, causing them to be removed from sale in the UK.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF CBD OIL?
The health benefits of CBD oils are wide ranging because it acts on the human ‘endocannabinoid system’ – so called because it uses cannabinoid-like chemicals – which plays a huge role in how our body communicates with the variety of systems found in us: from the immune system to the nervous system.
The role of the endocannabinoid system appears to be connected to the regulation of our functions to ‘eat, sleep, relax, forget and protect’ – all pretty essential functions, I’m sure you’d agree!
While more studies are needed to confirm the mechanisms at work, the evidence so far indicates that the presence of CBD could improve many of the functions related to the endocannabinoid system.
CBD OIL FOR DEPRESSION
Using CBD for depression could well reap beneficial results. As for why, there are a few proposed mechanisms, and it could be that one main mechanism is doing the most of the work, or it could be the combination of mechanisms working together produce the effect that some users see when they take CBD.
What causes depression?
As previously mentioned, there isn’t necessarily a single cause of depression. It is thought low levels of neurotransmitters could be the culprit; it could be down to disrupted communication between parts of the brain responsible for mood, like the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus. It could also be the loss of a loved one, or experiencing a traumatic event.
This wide range of causes can make tackling the root of the problem more challenging, and in some cases, impossible. That’s where we need all the help we can get to improve our quality of life, with a view to getting out of depression, if possible.
Why is CBD oil recommended for depression?
Using CBD to try and tackle depression could work for a number of reasons. There is a lot of anecdotal evidence; stories from CBD users who have seen improvements in their depression are a powerful recommendation, but that doesn’t guarantee every individual will see improvements from using CBD.
How does CBD oil help depression?
The presence of CBD reduces the breakdown of an endocannabinoid known as ‘anandamide’ – it is nicknamed the bliss chemical and is associated with feelings of joy and happiness. By reducing the breakdown of anandamide, more of it will be present, potentially resulting in improved mood.
Another mechanism may be low levels of neurotransmitters causing an impaired communication between the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus. One study found that stimulating the endocannabinoid system using CBD regulates activity in areas related to emotional processing.
A separate proposed method by which CBD could help sufferers of depression and relieve symptoms of anxiety is the regulation of a neurotransmitter known as GABA.
This neurotransmitter encourages the slowing down or stopping of neurons firing, and anxiety and stress can cause levels of GABA to decrease, resulting in over-firing neurons. It is thought that CBD can improve levels of GABA, resulting in a return to normal neuron function.
GABA is tied in with anxiety and panic attacks too, with increased GABA function resulting in reduced anxiety. This illustrates another function of CBD that could be beneficial to sufferers of anxiety and panic attacks.
How to use CBD oil for depression?
When it comes to dosing CBD for depression, or any other reason, you should start on a low dose and increase it if necessary. This means, for example, taking three drops of low strength CBD oral drops as a single dose, twice per day. This will give you a dose of 7.5mg of CBD per session, or a daily dose of 15mg.
The important thing to keep in mind when you buy CBD for depression is that it isn’t applied to the skin – this means no topical creams or balms – simply because the CBD doesn’t make it into the bloodstream this way. Using edible CBD, CBD oral drops or CBD vape liquid will get the CBD into the blood, and therefore to the brain.
The matter of which type of CBD to go for to see the most benefits is another good question. Full spectrum CBD will see the entourage effect taking place, but if the source is untrustworthy, you could end up ingesting more THC than you want because they haven’t accurately labelled the product.
Why is this a bad thing? Well for most people this is unlikely to be too much of an issue – but for people competing in sports at a high level, even low levels of THC could show up on a drug test, potentially leading to disqualification from competition.
CBD Isolate is a safe bet, in comparison, but doesn’t benefit from the other compounds in the cannabis plant, so no entourage effect is present in CBD isolate products. Therefore, the middle ground that benefits from the entourage effect without risk of exposure to THC are broad spectrum CBD products!
IS CBD OIL SAFE?
According to the World Health Organization, CBD exhibits no abuse potential and does not appear to cause harm in the long term. This is exemplified by the CBD medication Epidiolex, which is administered to children in the hundreds of micrograms per dose to treat rare forms of epilepsy.
That doesn’t mean you should start giving yourself a dose of that size – you are more likely to experience side effects at higher doses, and small doses are sufficient for many people to start seeing improvements – dosing more that you need is just going to be an expensive waste of your CBD, and could result in feeling a bit off kilter!
IS CBD OIL LEGAL IN THE UK?
In short – yes, CBD is legal in the UK. For more information on the legality of CBD, check out our blog article explaining the legal state of CBD in the UK.
PRECAUTIONS FOR USING CBD OIL FOR DEPRESSION
If you’ve read this far, then there’s a good chance that you are considering CBD oil for anxiety and/or depression, either for yourself or someone you know. Before making the leap, there are several things to consider.
CBD has the ability to impact how the liver processes medications, so if you are currently using a prescribed medication you should consult your doctor before taking CBD to avoid negative drug interactions.
Make sure you choose the correct type of CBD for your needs, and avoid products with any amount of THC if you are subject to drug testing. Remember – if you want the maximum benefit from CBD without any THC, it’s the broad spectrum CBD products you want!
When you start on CBD, make sure to start on a low strength product, or in the case of edibles, keep your consumption low. Higher doses of CBD are more likely to lead to side effects, and these can include drowsiness, fatigue, dry mouth, diarrhoea and reduced appetite.
Starting on a low dose means you can gradually increase the intake of CBD until you see an effect, helping you work out your very own effective dose!
Finally, buying from a reputable, trusted source is important for being able to trust the contents on the product packaging. One particular brand was taken off the shelves because the level of THC was far above the legal level, as well as the level stated on the packaging.
At SMOKO, you can see the certificates from the third party testing for our CBD products online, so you know you can buy SMOKO CBD products with absolute confidence!
CBD OIL FOR DEPRESSION: CONCLUSION
There is still much to be learned from studying the interactions of CBD in the body, and while much of the evidence needs to be corroborated in further studies, the outlook is very promising for the future of CBD in the use of a number of ailments.
If you are considering using CBD to help with depression, anxiety, or any number of other issues, then check out the SMOKO CBD range for broad spectrum CBD products that you can trust.
Made here, in the UK, from CBD cryogenically extracted from responsibly farmed, organically grown cannabis sativa L plants in Oregon, USA – the range is vegan friendly and gluten free, so take advantage of our limited time offer and see if CBD can help you – at a great price!