Can CBD Help You With Mental Health?

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Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the many cannabinoids found in the plant cannabis sativa variety known as hemp [1]. It has an indirect effect on our endocannabinoid system which is responsible for a number of different functions, including (but not limited to):

  • Inflammation
  • Emotions
  • Mood
  • Pain

Due to this effect, many people have turned to CBD for its natural medicinal value. Similarly, there’s a lot of questions as to whether or not cannabidiol is a potential option for those struggling with mental health.

The unfortunate truth is research surrounding CBD is still slim. Due to an almost 80 year prohibition, scientists have not had the ability to look into as much as other drugs. However, with the release of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp and CBD were federally legalized and, in turn, more research is starting to appear.

Throughout the article, we’ll teach you more on how CBD affects the brain and body while reviewing its effects on the mental health conditions currently covered by Bedlamite. At the end, we invite you to ask further questions.

CBD 101

Since the CBD industry is so new, there are a lot of newcomers with many questions. The following is a list of frequently asked questions surrounding the cannabidiol:

Is CBD legal?

Yes! Thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, cannabidiol (CBD) and hemp are federally legal. However, it’s important to note, different states have different regulations when it comes to both the plant and the cannabinoid [2].

Is it safe to consume CBD?

Though the FDA currently doesn’t approve CBD for any medical use (with the exception of Epidiolex), almost all research has found the cannabinoid to be safe for both adult and child consumption [3].

Still, there are two important things to note:

  1. Some people who’ve taken CBD have reported feeling side effects.
  2. CBD may inhibit other medication you are taking.

If you are seeking to use cannabidiol for natural medical practice, be sure to consult your doctor before consumption.

Will CBD get you high?

No! Some people may think CBD will get them high as it comes from the same plant tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) comes from, cannabis sativa. However, most CBD products currently on the market are extracted from plants designed specifically to yield in a lot of cannabidiol. These plants are referred to as hemp.

ALL CBD products currently on the market are required by federal regulations to have less than 0.3% THC within them [4].

Furthermore, in most individuals, CBD actually has the ability to reverse the psychoactive effects of THC.

Still, it’s worthy to note, in extremely sensitive people, CBD may cause mild psychoactivity. However, this side effect is extremely rare.

How much CBD should you take?

The answer to this question varies from person to person. Since all our bodies are built different, they’ll react to cannabidiol differently. Generally speaking, one of the biggest factors concerning CBD dosage is weight. The heavy someone is, the more CBD they’ll probably need. The lighter someone is, the less CBD they’ll probably need.

However, no matter what your weight, most professionals recommend you start small and work your way up. This way, you can get a sense of how CBD effects you and how much you actually need to reach the desired effect.

Can CBD help with your mental health?

As mentioned, only so much research has gone into CBD’s effects on mental health. Since research so far has shown CBD has a strong potential, there is a huge push for cannabidiol to be further investigated for a variety of topics we’re about to talk about:

Anxiety

Many have boasted about the wonders CBD has done for their anxiety. And for good reason.

Current research has found that CBD has specific effects on the brain which could be powerful in treating anxiety. These include:

  • 5-HT1A Agonist – Within the serotonin system is a subtype of receptor known as 5-HT1A. Many of the current medications for anxiety and depression inhibit the serotonin system. In a study conducted on animals, it was found that cannabidiol increased 5-HT1A transmission [5].
  • Hippocampal Neurogenesis – The hippocampus is an area of the brain responsible for memory formation and cognition. Research has found that people who struggle with depression or anxiety ten to have a smaller hippocampus. In a study conducted on animals, it was found that CBD regenerates neurons within the hippocampus [6].

In a separate study coming out of Brazil, two sets of patients were given CBD as a test to see if it treated generalized anxiety disorder. One set of patients was given the cannabidiol while the other received a placebo. It was found that those who had taken the cannabinoid were much had a notably reduced level of anxiety [7].

Many personal stories of people with anxiety using CBD as treatment have surfaced the web. And though we can’t claim it to currently have any proper medical treatment, we can say CBD may just be a safer alternative for traditional forms of medication.

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Unfortunately, as of this time, there is no published data surrounding CBD and ADHD. In a personal statement made by a patient of Dr. John Mitchell of the Duke University ADHD program [9]:

“I bought one vial for $50 that contained 30 gel tablets, and I took all of them over a few weeks. I’d never tried CBD or any type of cannabis before, and I felt no changes. But I didn’t have any adverse effects, either.”

Until more research is revealed, there are only small claims from people who suffer from ADHD that cannabidiol was able to help them in one way or another.

Bipolar Disorder

Since CBD has is known for its antipsychoactive and anticonvulsive properties, some researchers are curious as to whether or not it can play a role in better controlling symptoms of bipolar disorder. Particularly, symptoms linked to manic episodes.

Research is still limited as to whether or not this is true. In one instance, a man named Miles House wrote to a Harvard professor about data he was collecting. When it came to treating bipolar disorder, he found that high-CBD cannabis worked better than traditional anticonvulsants, antipsychotics, and antidepressants [9].

It’s important to note that people with bipolar disorder are suggested not to take marijuana (THC) as it may induce a psychosis.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BDP)

Borderline personality disorder is one of the most difficult mental health conditions to treat. Currently, there are no medications approved by the FDA and, with that, many wonder whether or not CBD can help.

What we do know about cannabidiol and BDP is linked to the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system is responsible for regulating a variety of functions within the body and brain. From the way we feel to our reaction to things happening around us and even down to the way we process thoughts [10].

Our ECS is responsible for sending neurotransmitters throughout the body and brain to process this information. However, when our neurotransmitters aren’t working properly, symptoms similar to those of BDP may appear.

CBD has been found to balance out our endocannabinoid system [11]. In effect, it may be able to bring symptoms of BDP down. However, more research needs to be done for this to be conclusive.

Depression

We discussed a bit about how CBD can help those struggling with depression in the section “Anxiety”.  Due to the way cannabidiol affects serotonin receptors and our hippocampus, it’s believed by researchers that CBD may be a significant form of treatment.

Further research has concluded that CBD acts as an antidepressant, anti-stress, and antianxiety compound within animals. Since CBD doesn’t directly affect the endocannabinoid system, it’s believed it may be a non-addictive alternative to current forms of depression treatment [12].

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Since obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a form of anxiety, it’s believed CBD may have a positive effect on those struggling with the condition.

There are a few specific qualities of cannabidiol that can have a direct effect on various symptoms of OCD. These include:

  • Anti-Epileptic – Currently, the FDA has only approved CBD for the treatment of seizures, convulsions, and muscle spasms. Due to this, CBD may be able to decrease the severity of obsessive and compulsive conduct [13].
  • Antipsychotic – As discussed, CBD has antipsychotic properties which may be able to help certain symptoms and conditions in those with OCD.
  • Anxiolytic – Also as discussed, CBD has been able to help significantly decrease symptoms of anxiety due to its effects on the brain, body, and endocannabinoid system.

Research has found that CBD can have a positive effect on those struggling with OCD [14]. This is due to the fact that CBD affects the limbic region of the brain. This area is responsible for creating symptoms associated with a variety of disorders including OCD, dementia, and epilepsy.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Similarly to OCD, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is another form of anxiety which CBD may be able to help with.

When it comes to PTSD, one of the biggest difficulties medical professionals have is improving memory consolidation and retrieval. More often than not, these are directly affected by the traumatic experience.

With that, it’s important to activate CB1 and CB2 receptors – the two receptors responsible for traveling through the endocannabinoid system. Admittedly, THC is better at this activation as it directly affects CB1 receptors [15]. By doing so, THC actually helps to rid the mind of traumatic memories.

However, since CBD indirectly levels out these receptors, it does show potential for easing symptoms of PTSD [16].

Schizophrenia

Due to CBD’s antipsychotic abilities, it might be able to play a role in treating many of the symptoms associated with schizophrenia.

More notably, one of the biggest areas researchers are looking towards is how CBD effects the cognition in people with schizophrenia. This is due to the fact that people who struggle with the illness tend to have cognitive defects (anywhere from 75% to 85% of patients) [17].

It should be noted, people with schizophrenia are advised not to consume marijuana (THC) as this can induce psychosis or psychoactive behavior.

Substance Abuse Disorder

When it comes to substance abuse disorder and CBD, most research has specifically looked into opioid addiction. And, more specifically, in reducing cravings and relapse after traditional drug treatment.

In one study, 42 men and women who had a history of heroin abuse were given either cannabidiol or a placebo. They were then shown video clips meant to either counteract drug cravings or induce them.

What the researchers discovered were the cravings and anxiety (usually brought upon by cravings) had significantly dropped in those who received CBD [18].

Should You Try CBD?

Since cannabidiol (CBD) is extremely safe to consume, there is no danger in giving it a try to relieve your mental health. However, as of this time, we can’t currently claim CBD is the answer to treating any kind of mental disorder.

Furthermore, what most research suggests is CBD probably can’t be the answer. Rather, it can be a complementary therapy to traditional treatment.

Your Questions

Still have questions surrounding cannabidiol (CBD) and mental health?

We invite you to ask them in the comments section below. If you have more information or personal insight on the topic, we’d also love to hear from you.

We try to reply to each comment in a prompt and personal manner.

Reference Sources

[1] Harvard Health Publishing: Cannabidiol (CBD) – what we know and what we don’t

[2] Congress.gov: H.R.2 – Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018

[3] Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research: An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol

[4] FDA: FDA Regulation of Cannabis and Cannabis-Derived Products: Questions and Answers

[5] Cannabis Reports: Cannabidiol Induces Rapid-acting Antidepressant-like Effects And Enhances Cortical 5-HT/glutamate Neurotransmission

[6] PubMed: The anxiolytic effect of cannabidiol on chronically stressed mice depends on hippocampal neurogenesis

[7] PubMed: Neural basis of anxiolytic effects of cannabidiol (CBD) in generalized social anxiety disorder

[8] Duke Institute for Brain Science: John Mitchell

[9] Rx Marijuana: Cannabis and Bipolar Disorder by Miles A. Houser

[10] frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience: The endocannabinoid system: an overview

[11] Rambam Maimonides Medical Journal: The Endocannabinoid System, Cannabinoids, and Pain

[12] frontiers in Immunology: Translational Investigation of the Therapeutic Potential of Cannabidiol (CBD) Toward a New Age

[13] Journal of Epilepsy Research: Cannabinoids in the Treatment of Epilepsy: Hard Evidence at Last?

[14] Springer Neurotherapeutics: Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders

[15]  The Mental Health Clinician: A review of medical marijuana for the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder

[16] frontiers in Neuroscience: Cannabidiol as a Therapeutic Alternative for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

[17] PubMed: Antipsychotic effect of cannabidiol.

[18] Neuropsychopharmacology: Unique treatment potential of cannabidiol for the prevention of relapse to drug use: preclinical proof of principle

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