Clinical depression is a debilitating mood disorder – and many of the anti-depressants on the market have uncomfortable side-effects. But there is a growing body of evidence that using CBD for depression could offer relief without side-effects, including the ‘high’ that most people associate with cannabis.
Depression as a mood disorder
Everyone feels down in the dumps sometimes, but that isn’t real depression. Depression makes it impossible to experience or enjoy positive emotions. People become listless, are constantly tired out, but often can’t sleep properly, suffer from aches and pains, become irritable, and generally feel that life isn’t worth living.
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Stress and endocannabinoids
Depression can be triggers by a number of things, but stress is one of them. Interestingly, researchers found that when rats were subjected to stressful conditions, there were less endocannabinoids in their bodies. Endocannabinoids are produced naturally in the human body, and it is believed that supplementing endocannabinoids with phytocannabinoids from plants has beneficial effects.
Inflammation caused by depression
The Immune Cytokine Model of Depression is the result of research that found that depressed people have more cytokine proteins in their brains. When this happens, the immune system tries to fight them off, causing inflammation. The model proposes the theory that depression is really caused by a chronic activation of the immune system.
Tel Aviv University researchers found that cannabis can reduce inflammation of the brain, adding to the evidence in favour of cannabinoids as a potential treatment for depression.
Other ways that cannabinoids might help to treat depression
Other effects of CBD that have been reported include better sleep, light suppression of appetite and relief from aches and pains. There have also been studies into CBD as a way of easing social anxiety. Unlike THC which often makes people feel paranoid, CBD helps people to be more relaxed.
CBD as a fast-acting antidepressant
Many herbal remedies and just about all anti-depressant pharmaceuticals are rather slow-acting, but a study published in April this year found that CBD produced anti-depressant like effects in mice very quickly. This follows a study published in 2010 that found that three cannabinoids: THC, CBD and CBC all seemed to act as anti-depressants.
But has CBD for depression been compared to pharmaceuticals? It has, but once again in an experiment using mice. The researchers found that CBD had effects that were comparable with a drug called imipramine, usually sold under the name Tofranil.
See a doctor
If you think you are suffering from depression, it is best to consult your doctor. CBD for depression is not yet approved for human use. But although the information in this article should not be considered as a replacement for a doctor’s advice, it is nevertheless interesting to see yet another possible use for cannabinoids being researched with such promising results.
If large-scale clinical trials were to produce similarly promising conclusions, it’s quite possible that we will see CBD for depression being prescribed by doctors in the near future.