Cannabidiol (CBD) products are preferable to cannabis for many reasons. But one of the most crucial is that they are suitable for all ages. Responsible use is, however, essential. Nearly all of the CBD that is available in the American market comes from industrial hemp. This plant is naturally very low in psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a great bonus for making CBD products.
In this article, we are going to cover:
- How CBD could potentially help teenagers and young adults
- Study CBD’s antidepressant properties
- Look at how CBD may relieve acne symptoms
- Analyze how CBD might alleviate anxiety
- Suggest which CBD products may be most beneficial
It’s fair to say that many depression patients are crying out for a new treatment – and one that works! The leading class of antidepressant drug has been, for thirty years, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Initially, the science and logic behind SSRIs looked sound. Serotonin is a hormone that the body naturally produces. Serotoa major regulatory effect on our mood and social behavior.
The prevailing theory was that depression patients were suffering from a lack of serotonin. SSRI drugs could supposedly help to correct that chemical imbalance. In doing so, this would alleviate symptoms of low mood and motivation. It’s important to note that SSRIs merely block serotonin from being degraded. They aren’t a means to creating more of the hormone.
However, research has shown that the effectiveness of SSRIs has declined over time. This is indicative of an initial placebo effect, which made patients think these drugs were more beneficial than they actually are. Nowadays, some still find help from SSRIs. But it is commonly accepted that the therapeutic value of drugs like Prozac are limited. Furthermore, we don’t fully understand the full impact that these drugs even have on the body. It is feasible that the antidepressant properties of SSRIs has little – or nothing – to do with their enhancing effect on serotonin.
Therefore, researchers are now channelling their efforts into new avenues. Those studying cannabinoids, the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and the brain are optimistic about the potential of CBD for teenage depression. And, indeed, depression in patients of all ages. CBD’s non-psychoactive nature immediately gives it a good start as a future mainstream drug. Ad glut of studies featured in peer-reviewed scientific journals is fuelling that optimism amongst CBD advocates.
Research on CBD is helping to uproot the narrative that depression is the result of a serotonin imbalance. In recent times, some scientists have been looking into the negative effects of neurological inflammation. This causes damage and structural changes to the brain. Brain scans and studies have shown that several areas of the brain are physically changed by depression. We are going to look at two in particular: the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex.
The former holds huge influence over memory and motivation. We can see the harmful effects of hippocampal damage in chronic cannabis users. Some experience memory loss and motivational decline. This is due to the regular and long-term intake of psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
It is perhaps ironic then that one of the emerging treatments for depression comes from the cannabis and hemp plants. But that is thanks to CBD having the complete opposite effect of THC on the hippocampus. Instead of being neurotoxic, CBD sparks hippocampal growth. Another cannabinoid – the non-intoxicating cannabichromene (CBC) has the same effect. A 2015 study identified this in humans for the first time. Both of these chemicals are present in full-spectrum CBD products.
The prefrontal cortex
Moving on to the prefrontal cortex. Molecular Neurobiology published the most relevant study yet in 2018. The teaming up of neuroscientists from Denmark and Brazil made it possible. Their study revolved around researching the antidepressant effects of CBD in rodents. While not as good as a study in humans would have been, rodents are a good first step. They are often used for neuroscience research as their brains have much in common with humans’.
The study focussed on how CBD fixed broken neuronal circuitry in the prefrontal cortex. This likely improved the brain’s ability to handle complex cognitive planning, decision making and personality expression. Researchers noted how CBD sparked an increase in brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which stimulates neurogenesis. The decline of BDNF after a few days was taken as a sign that the effects were wearing off.
The main takeaway from this study was the sheer potency of CBD as an antidepressant treatment. This puts it in stark contrast to SSRIs. The experts demonstrated how just one dose of CBD produced antidepressant effects lasting for almost one week. SSRIs must be taken daily by humans with depression. Positive effects rarely show for a fortnight, if no longer. So, what exactly was CBD doing to the prefrontal cortex to make such a significant change in the rodents?
We must wait on this research. But we can already see that Americans with depression are benefitting from CBD treatment. Let’s turn our attention to results from a questionnaire that was answered last year by more than 2400 CBD users. Out of those who are taking CBD for medicinal purposes, depression was listed as the fourth most common illness being remedied. They accounted for nigh on 20% of all medicinal CBD usage. That figure is remarkable given that there is currently no concrete scientific evidence that CBD can help with depression. It proves that this is an area which needs much more attention from researchers. And most of all, it shows the desperate requirement for more funding.
As for which CBD products may work best for depression, the jury is out. A treatment where the CBD remains active for longer would yield the most benefit. In which case, depression sufferers may want to look at CBD capsules or edibles. This is opposed to vape juices and tinctures. However, any CBD product where the CBD is taken into the body and then the brain is likely to help.
Acne is a skin disorder that causes many more problems than just oily skin. This is just the primary physical symptom. It’s the adverse side effect that acne has on confidence which can be most devastating. Those affected obsess over spots and zits, and sometimes even go into a prolonged period of depression. The aesthetic harm that acne causes can be especially worrisome for younger people. Hence why it is so encouraging that CBD skin care products may help with teenage acne.
Unsurprisingly, given the proliferation of hormonal acne, the alternative health market has been flooded with treatments for the skin disorder. While some of these may be effective, others have been shown to be downright dangerous. Take Roaccutane, for instance. Many countries have pulled the acne remedy, as it can cause dry skin, nosebleeds and rashes. It’s likely that Roaccutane doesn’t work because it is aggressive on the skin.
How CBD works
CBD nurtures the skin to produce its anti-acne effects. The key to the acne puzzle is regulating levels of sebum. The sebaceous glands create this natural oil. Acne is the result of overactivity in these glands. Excess sebum is responsible for oily skin and clogged – and potentially infected – pores. CBD soothes the sebaceous glands. One study coined the cannabinoid a “sebostatic”. This regulating effect returns sebum production levels to a normal and sustainable rate. Therefore, a CBD topical doesn’t just manage the symptoms of acne. It is also free of the side effects that other acne treatments bring.
Ideally, a large scientific investigation on the benefits of CBD for acne will be carried out in the near future. At present, our knowledge is based around a handful of studies – not all directly related to acne – and some anecdotal evidence. Clearly, an acne cream is the best possible treatment for the condition. CBD creams deliver anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antimicrobial effects directly to the skin. The all-round properties of CBD help to calm acne, as well as redness, scars and itching.
Anxiety affects many teenagers and young adults. Maybe this is due to mental health being less of a taboo in today’s world and the younger generation. This could make people more willing to report it. The online world and social media may also exacerbate anxiety. Switching off has become impossible for many.
As with depression, mental health scientists have been slow to get to the root causes of anxiety. Subsequently, we have substandard treatments for the disorder. Anxiety patients get SSRI prescription for their condition. But the results are mediocre. However, CBD research suggests things may soon get better for anxiety patients.
The key to resolving anxiety seems to be in calming and relaxing the brain and the mind. Easier said than done, but CBD operates in some novel ways. CBD influences the serotonin 1A receptor in the serotonin system and the inhibitory neurotransmitter gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA). These are independent from each other, but both can be worked with to deliver anxiolytic effects.
Studies have also shown how CBD is effective for anxiety in practical – and particularly social – situations. This is important. It’s all very well knowing how CBD reduces anxiety in theory, but it needs to work in practice. An investigation in 2011 compared the responses that anxiety sufferers had to CBD and a placebo in a simulated speaking test. The results found that the group given the former enjoyed less anxiety before and during their speech.
Chronic cannabis users
For those who have taken too much cannabis in their younger years, there is good news. CBD can reduce the potential harm that this has done to the brain. This is arguably more of a problem than ever before, considering that cannabis is now stronger than ever. THC’s impact, as we described earlier, is neurotoxic for the hippocampus.
But the neurogenesis properties of CBD and a full hemp extract can reverse memory and motivation loss. A study published in 2018 showed how CBD had the biggest therapeutic effect in those with the most severe hippocampal issues.
CBD has huge potential for younger people. It may even deal with some of the most serious health problems that the youth are dealing with today. CBD needs comprehensive clinical trials for medical approval. CBD research must now progress.The FDA approval process takes time, as a new drug must go through several phases of testing. But a CBD drug called Epidiolex for epilepsy has successfully passed. This indicates that CBD could also win approval for other illnesses.
The early promise of CBD is undeniable. And the great effects that people are already enjoying with CBD suggests a bright future. The availability of funding dollars is key. Then we can make these crucial discoveries, sooner rather than later. Do you have a story about CBD use for younger people? Drop us a line in the comments – we want to hear from you!