Cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabinoid that can be used to treat various health conditions. Unlike THC, CBD does not produce any psychoactive effects, meaning it doesn’t produce a “high” when taken. That is because CBD interacts with both the CB1 and CB2 reactors in the brain, while THC only reacts with CB1. The evidence from studies supports the therapeutic nature of CBD.
Humans have an endocannabinoid system that responds directly to cannabinoids found in the plant. Depression, often attributed to chemical imbalances in the brain, can severely impact the autoimmune system. Ignoring the endocannabinoid system can adversely affect many functions, including energy level, sleeping patterns, and mood.
A 2014 study tested the anti-depression effects of CBD. Using animals in numerous tests, such as swimming, mazes, and a Vogel Conflict test, the study concluded that the CBD had anti-anxiety and anti-depression effects on the subjects.
Research has shown that depressed people have more of the cytokine protein in their brains. When this occurs, the brain tries to fight off the proteins, resulting in inflammation. CBD has been shown to be effective in treating inflammation in the brain. That adds to the evidence that CBD is effective for depression.
More research needs to be done to confirm CBD’s benefits on the endocannabinoid system, but the evidence shows CBD can be an effective treatment for depression without any of the downsides of traditional antidepressants. CBD can also work to counteract the psychoactive effects of THC. The depression-alleviating qualities of THC are almost immediate.
Anxiety is a condition that affects millions of people, and there are many prescription drugs, such as Zoloft and Prozac, that attempt to treat it. However, these medications may not work for everyone, and CBD may be an efficacious alternative to these traditional drugs. CBD has garnered interest in recent years from consumers, clinicians, and scientists in the treatment of anxiety.
Numerous studies have supported the anti-anxiety properties of CBD. When administered acutely, it can be useful in the treatment of various types of anxiety, including social anxiety, OCD, panic disorder, and PTSD. CBD can also help counter the adverse effects of THC.
Researchers are still trying to conclude why CBD has an anti-anxiety effect on the brain. Most of the studies have been pre-clinical tests on animal subjects. However, these preclinical studies have given us results that could move us in the right direction.
5-HT1A is a type of serotonin receptor, and medications that target the serotonin system are often used to treat depression and anxiety. The pharmaceutical companies developed selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) which inhibit the reabsorption of serotonin in the brain. That means that the brain can send more serotonin signals, which can lead to a better mood in some cases.
CBD can help with the transmission of serotonin signals. A Spanish study done on animals showed that CBD enhances the transfer of 5-HT1A and may affect serotonin faster than SSRIs. Also, an animal study that used mice suggested that CBD help the hippocampus regenerate neuron, which could be helpful in treating anxiety and depression.
Human studies have also supported the effectiveness of CBD for anxiety. A Brazilian study showed that the human subjects had a significant decrease in anxiety after consuming CBD. Researchers reaffirmed these effects by performing brain scans, which revealed the blood flow patterns were consistent with a reduction in stress.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s
Research on the effects of CBD on dementia is inconclusive. However, there is still ample evidence to support CBD having a positive effect on the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have shown that CBD could have a mitigating effect on aggression and agitation in Alzheimer’s patients.
CBD could help with dementia, especially Alzheimer’s, because of its effects on the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system produces CB1 and CB2. CB1 is in various places throughout the brain, including in the hippocampus, which is the memory and learning center. CB2 centers in the microglia, which is specialized immune cells. CBD targets these receptors, which could help with Alzheimer’s.
A recent study conducted by Karl and Group helped confirm the benefits of CBD on Alzheimer’s. The study showed that CBD could reduce reactive gliosis and the neuroinflammatory response. The study also demonstrated that CBD promotes neurogenesis, the growth of healthy neurons.
Schizophrenia and Psychosis
THC is known for producing symptoms of psychosis, especially in teens. However, research shows that CBD may have the opposite effect. While THC may induce schizophrenia, CBD can reduce the symptoms of schizophrenia.
One study performed on animal subjects showed that CBD affected the dopamine system, which means that CBD may have a positive effect on psychosis, as well as other psychological disorders. Although the tests were done on rats and not humans, the findings were interesting and could lead to further discoveries about the benefits of CBD.
Tests performed on human subjects include a 2015 trial that compared the effects of CBD on 88 patients against a placebo. The findings showed that the CBD proved more efficient in treating the psychosis than the other drug, which had not affected the patients.
Many anti-psychosis drugs have similar side effects to THC, including sleepiness and lack of motivation. Therefore, CBD could be a better alternative. According to Dr. Steven Laviolette, CBD bypasses the pathways that anti-psychosis medications often go through, which leads to fewer side effects.
While THC can have numerous undesirable consequences for mental health, CBD can not only counteract the effects of THC but help with multiple psychological disorders. However, more research needs to become to determine what exactly what diseases are targeted by CBD and how it can be effective.
Even though there is more to learn, cannabis has been found to engage the immune system and mood pathways in the brain. Unlike many pharmaceutical drugs, CBD seems to promote balance in the body and provide mental health benefits without the adverse side effects. Until more studies use human subjects, and the results peer reviewed, doctors’ ability to prescribe it will remain limited.
CBD is also being used to help with many other ailments both common and more serious. You can learn more about this in an article we published here.