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Can CBD be used to treat depression?

Over the past few years, the cannabis community has been inundated with interest about the once-obscure cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid with a wealth of therapeutic effects. With CBD now entering the homes of more and more Americans, it seems that everybody either knows somebody who’s using it or has benefitted from it themselves. The studies are mounting up with evidence in favor of the compound, which could be especially helpful in tackling mental health disorders.

Some people are finding that CBD gives them the power to manage their depression. But is it really a good idea to use cannabidiol as depression medication? Read on to find out.

Can depression be solved through the endocannabinoid system?

The body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which scientists discovered quite recently, actually responds to the cannabinoids which are unique to cannabis. This is because cannabinoids are chemically alike to naturally-produced endocannabinoids, including anandamide. The CB1 receptor is the most abundant endocannabinoid receptor in the ECS – it’s found in the brain and the nervous system and works primarily with THC.

Many argue that the nervous system holds the key to depression, and that it is caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. There are, in fact, several causes of depression. However, its adverse effect on the nervous system is accepted by most medical experts.

It’s important for the endocannabinoid to remain balanced or in homeostasis, so that it can regulate functions such as appetite, mood, energy levels and sleep cycles. When the body slips out of homeostasis, often due to neglect of the ECS, problems with these functions can occur. For example, you may begin to suffer with insomnia and then fatigue, or be prone to sudden, violent mood swings.

The science on cannabis and depression

As cannabis has become more accessible, the number of studies conducted on the herb have increased. And there are a few that have looked specifically at the potential of CBD as a medicine for depression.

An animal model study from 2014 highlighted CBD’s anxiolytic and antidepressant properties. The animal models were subjected to a variety of challenges, such as conflict tests and swim tests. Depression and anxiety was reduced among the models that had been administered a dose of CBD.

In 2009, a study concluded that more research into depression treatments was needed due to the failure of traditional pharmaceutical drugs. Considering what we know about CBD’s properties and the endocannabinoid system’s influence on mood, perhaps its time that scientists and doctors gave cannabis a proper hearing.

Athletes experiment with CBD

Due to research restrictions, there remains a lack of studies on how cannabis reacts in humans. However, many athletes have turned to cannabidiol treatment to boost their mood and aid the recovery process, and most wax lyrical about their experiences.

Ex-UFC fighter Bas Rutten has become a more prominent advocate for CBD in recent times and has been known to comment about it on his social media accounts. Bas called the marijuana compound a “cure for road rage” in a humorous post, but it perhaps hints on how he has used CBD products to manage stress.

Rutten hasn’t been shy to discuss how CBD helps to rejuvenate him and recover after training and fights. He says that it helps him to control his temper.

There are many stories similar to Rutten’s – Nate Diaz, another UFC fighter, is an on-the-record CBD user, too. But Rutten’s comments about how he has received mental and physical benefits from CBD points to how versatile the compound is.

The government’s stance on CBD

When you look deeper into the federal government’s position on cannabis, it’s surprising how many contradictions you’ll find. Its stance on CBD is similarly confusing. Despite the government patenting CBD as an antioxidant and neuroprotectant, the Attorney General is staunchly against cannabis, and recently instructed federal prosecutors to override states which have chosen to legalize marijuana.

However, the federal government is becoming somewhat irrelevant in the medical cannabis debate. Almost 30 states have now legalized the herb to some extent. As more states choose to reform and advance legislation, an increasing number of Americans with depression will have the chance to medicate with CBD from cannabis.

Final thoughts

The endocannabinoid system is now known to have a major impact on several body functions, and it’s known that CBD can work with this network in a positive, balancing way. Furthermore, studies are proving the anecdotes that people have made about cannabis for years, that it can indeed relieve pain, ease anxiety and perhaps even brush away depression too.

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