CBD is everywhere at the moment, and it seems like people all over the world are vouching for the effects it has on their mood and mental health, but scientists can’t fully explain how or why.
The outlawing of the cannabis plant in the UK since 1971 has put significant barriers between the substance, healthcare professionals, and scientists. With this in mind, it’s not surprising that the CBD community is seriously lacking in the knowledge needed to confidently say what CBD can treat and how.
However, these social barriers around cannabis are starting to be lifted in some parts of the world and, with that, it seems like there’s a constant flow of new CBD research and information.
In studies published in 2016 and 2010, CBD displayed anti-depressive effects on animal models but researchers say its ability to treat major depressive disorder in humans is yet to be explored. Here’s some of the information that’s already out there.
Why researchers think CBD oil has anti-depressant potential
CBD has an ani-depressant-like effect on mice
Like the study from 2016, another study published in 2010 claims that the reported anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) and anti-psychotic effects of CBD may be because of how it activates 5-HT receptors in the brain.
These are more commonly known as serotonin receptors and are located in the central and peripheral nervous system, playing a role in the release of neurotransmitters and hormones.
Once activated, it’s theorised that these neurotransmitters and hormones influence processes in the brain and body relating to aggression, anxiety, appetite, cognition, learning, memory, and mood.
CBD binds with the endocannabinoid system
It is the endocannabinoid system that modulates signalling to the serotonin system, and in 2011, researchers found the endocannabinoid system to be abnormal in patients with mood and related disorders. They added that by introducing external cannabinoids that bind with the endocannabinoid system, there is potential for cannabinoids to be used in therapeutic care for psychiatric, mood, and mood related disorders.
What is the relationship between the ECS and depression?
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is widely distributed throughout the brain and body and modulates many functions by signalling to neurons in the nervous system.
This means it helps control the way signals are released by neurotransmitters and received by neurons. In effect, a normal, healthy ECS regulates what is communicated between cells, affecting how they perceive and respond to stress factors.
How do researchers think CBD could help with depression?
So far, scientists have found ECS abnormalities in patients with depression, anxiety schizophrenia, and other neurological disorders. These neurological disorders, like depression, can be caused by several factors including an imbalance of brain chemicals, genetic predisposition, and stress.
These factors can over or under stimulate neurotransmitters and neurons, resulting in mood disturbances and eventually disorders, otherwise known to us as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, etc.
Some researchers think that CBD can cross the brain/blood barrier, mimic our naturally produced cannabinoids, and bind with cannabinoid receptors. This process could positively affect the functionality of the endocannabinoid system and how it relays signals to the nervous system.
What’s the verdict?
There’s certainly plenty of optimistic research about the effects of CBD on helping with depression, and while we cannot yet make medical claims with absolute certainty, we hope that more time and resources will continue to be allocated to the potential of CBD by researchers in the medical industry.