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An in-depth look at CBD and mental health

Mental illnesses and general mental health are receiving a lot of attention nowadays. Society is realizing that psychological disorders can have a devastating effect on a person. And many drugs for the likes of anxiety and depression are notorious for their ineffectiveness. This is a great concern given the prevalence of these conditions in the modern world.

But studies on CBD, a chemical compound from hemp and cannabis, is transforming how scientists view mental health. New treatments for mental medical conditions are becoming a possibility, thanks to the remarkable research currently taking place. Indeed, many CBD users have gone one step ahead, and are using legal hemp-based products already to manage their disorders.

This post will really get into the nitty gritty of CBD oil’s potential for mental health issues. We will cover the following, and more:


  • Whether CBD works for various mental illnesses
  • How CBD works for different mental disorders
  • If CBD can replace certain prescription drugs
  • Why CBD is a better option than THC for improving mental health
  • Which CBD products may yield the most mental health benefits

Without further ado, let’s find out if CBD is good for mental health.

What does CBD do for mental health?

CBD stands for cannabidiol, and comes from the hemp plant. Recently, hemp oil products rich in CBD have become popular in the United States. This follows two federal acts that have served to loosen restrictions around and now fully legalize hemp. CBD is a cannabinoid, rare but potent chemicals that come from cannabis. These are very influential for our overall health, because of the all-encompassing presence of cannabinoid receptors throughout the body.

CBD research is now starting to flood in, after being suppressed for many years. The illegality of cannabis under federal law has made it very difficult to acquire funding to study the plant and its compounds. But CBD’s medical potential for mental health is starting to shine. Early studies looking at how the cannabinoid tweaks the brain’s chemical makeup. How CBD enacts positive physical changes are very promising.

Exploring CBD’s benefits for mental health

We’ll cover how CBD appears to work for several mental illnesses and brain fog in this section, and suggest which products may be most helpful. Bear in mind these statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and that this article is not medical advice, merely educational content.


The World Health Organization has said than 1 in 13 people globally suffer from anxiety. The condition appears subtle on the outside, but can wreak havoc on the inside. Anxiety changes a person’s thought processes. It can cause high levels of fear, panic attacks and lots of unhelpful worst-case scenario thinking. Anxiety’s causes are complicated, but so far appear to be due to neurotransmitter imbalances and serotonin system issues. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), the same drugs used to treat depression, are regularly used for anxiety, with varying results. The slow response of these drugs reduces their effectiveness.

CBD is a serotonin 1A receptor agonist, a mechanism that produces an anxiolytic effect. The boost that CBD gives to gamma-Aminobutyric (GABA) neurotransmitters also relaxes the brain, and may alleviate anxiety. CBD can be used to manage many general and social anxiety disorders because of how rapidly it works. Using a vape juice ensures that CBD is into the bloodstream and then the brain in just seconds. This helps anxiety sufferers much more than a drug that may take weeks to work.


Likewise, the slow response of SSRIs for depression shows why treatments for this mental illness are in need of a shakeup. SSRIs eventually have an antidepressant benefit for some users. The gradual neurogenesis effect may be more responsible, however, than the serotonin enhancement. Depression treatment are subpar because the condition has historically not been understood well. Brain wellness was thought to come down to chemical composition, but the brain’s physical state also looks to be key. CBD works with the latter as an antidepressant.

A CBD study on rodents found that the cannabinoid relieves depression by fixing neuronal circuitry in the prefrontal cortex. CBD initiates this effect by stimulating brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is crucial for neurogenesis. Encouraging brain growth is also how CBD repairs the hippocampus, an effect that improves memory and motivation.

Those planning on a long-term CBD treatment plan might find edibles better, as the dose stays active for longer. But a quicker antidepressant effect can be received by consuming CBD from a vape pen, tincture oil or hemp flower.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

For many years, OCD was considered an anxiety disorder, but it is now viewed as a separate condition. Furthermore, research shows that OCD is more prevalent in society than initially believed, with more than 1 percent of the US adult population affected. People are turning to CBD products as a solution, and are having great results – but why?

The obsessive and compulsive intrusive thoughts that OCD is notorious for come from irregularities in the brain. SSRIs are sometimes used to treat OCD, and they work for some, but not others. However, this does show that changing brain functioning can relieve OCD symptoms. Available studies suggest CBD may treat OCD by acting on the limbic system. Keeping more anandamide, a natural endocannabinoid in the body, which CBD does, may be to thank for the beneficial effects.

That OCD patients are already using CBD to tackle their symptoms is a good sign. It adds weight to the earlier research conducted, and more studies on CBD hemp products will further develop our understanding.

Bipolar disorder

The relationship between cannabis and bipolar disorder is intriguing. Some people report a reduction in symptoms following treatment, while others find that they get worse. This suggests that the type of cannabis being used is key, and the quantity of CBD in particular. Therefore, could CBD be better as a solo treatment for bipolar, than the entire marijuana plant?

Bipolar causes serious mood swings – a combination of mania and depression. This irregular mood may be manageable through the endocannabinoid system (ECS) where CBD functions. Mood is controlled at the CB1 receptor – these are found in the central nervous system. Naturally, anandamide binds to the CB1 receptor. In contrast, CBD inhibits CB1 receptor activity as an antagonist. But CBD also blocks anandamide reuptake. Therefore, while not creating the compound, it makes more available so that the CB1 receptor can operate naturally.

More research on CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is needed regarding bipolar. It’s possible that CBD alones works best, or that a combination is better.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

PTSD affects one in 10 people at some point in life. The disorder causes traumatic flashbacks and nightmares, from extremely negative experiences that have occurred. For example, war veterans are especially vulnerable to PTSD. Some innovative new treatments for PTSD are being studied and considered, including psilocybin from ‘magic’ mushrooms’ and MDMA. However, both of these are still Schedule 1 substances, while CBD is not.

Now researchers know the ECS is implicated in emotional memory processing, influencing how the ECS works has become possible as a PTSD treatment. Early studies on CBD’s potential for PTSD have been conducted on rodents. This is common when researching cannabinoid treatments for mental health disorders. The research has shown that CBD may inhibit the consolidation of negative memories, and also help to extinguish them.

Some PTSD patients feel that the mild psychoactive effects of THC help with combating symptoms. The compound may have a deleterious effect on negative memories. But as an intoxicating substance, THC is not for everyone, just as psilocybin and MDMA may not be in the future.

Psychosis and schizophrenia

These nasty mental illnesses have a close relationship with cannabis for two reasons. THC has the potential to bring them out or worsen them due to its psychoactive properties. However, the contrasting CBD may be beneficial, precisely because it works oppositely to THC. New drugs for psychosis and schizophrenia have become a necessity, as current treatments can cause weight gain, restlessness and sexual health problems.

Reducing CB1 receptor activity as a negative allosteric modulator (NAM) may explain why CBD is therapeutic for these mental illnesses. What’s great about CBD in comparison to typical antipsychotic drugs is the absence of serious side effects. With any drug, it’s not just the benefits that are important, but the balance between medical value and side effects.

CBD for brain fog

In a world where self-optimization is in demand, interest in nootropics is rising. But there’s perhaps no better way than to boost your cognition and clear away brain fog than with natural CBD products. The ECS is implicated in cognition regulation, and CBD is a neuroprotective and antioxidant. Many CBD users find that small doses serve to peak their focus, and make studying easier. Those affected by mental blockages may also enjoy more clarity with CBD.

If brain fog is the result of chronic cannabis use, then CBD is also a good go-to treatment. The restorative role that CBD plays in the brain is great for improving memory. It may even help to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

CBD is more therapeutic than regular cannabis for mental health

The benefits of CBD oil for mental health are becoming clear. And what is also apparent is how CBD tends to be better than THC and, in many cases, a mix of the two. Intoxication is best avoided with the likes of anxiety, with CBD products having a more potent calming effect. 

That’s not to say THC cannot be used to improve mental health, but that is a less predictable substance. Indeed, some find the strong, short-term mood-boosting effects to work wonders. And for PTSD, taking THC may speed up the recovery process. But THC-rich cannabis may perhaps be preferable for those who already have experience with marijuana. New users who aren’t so familiar may struggle to obtain the positives from the psychoactive drug.

Final thoughts

Mental health is a huge problem right now, but the future looks bright. Scientists have lots of drugs to study in the coming years, and CBD is just one of them. What’s even better about CBD is that it is already well-known among Americans, with millions of users. CBD vaping for mental health can be really effective for patients who need rapid improvements to their condition. Capsules and other CBD products that work more steadily are perfect for sustained relief.

The cannabis plant has a profound effect on the brain, and this can be a positive or a negative. We can see this from the differing effects of CBD and THC. This only emphasizes how important it is for CBD to be used sensibly. Providing it is, CBD can yield numerous significant psychological benefits. Have any insight on CBD for mental health that you’d like to share? Please leave a comment below! 

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