Cannabidiol, or as it’s better known, CBD is one of nearly 200 cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. The all-natural compound has grown in popularity at an exponential rate in recent years thanks to a number of studies and the passage of the Farm Act, which legalized CBD in 2019. The clinical studies and funded research that have been focused on the potential health benefits of CBD include a number of potential treatments, which may include CBD for treating depression. Thus far, the studies into CBD and depression are looking hopeful.
In this article we will look at the current science behind CBD oil for depression, however, we want to make it very clear that we are in no way recommending that you replace your medically subscribed medicine for CBD oil without speaking with your doctor and/or therapist. CBD oil for depression is looking promising and we hope there will be more clinical trials to help us better understand the science, however for now, here’s what we know.
CBD Oil for Depression
Many experts have put their focus on CBD oil for depression in the positive effect it has on the serotonin receptors in the brain. Most people are still in the belief that depression is caused by a serotonin deficiency, however, there is some emerging science that somewhat disproves this theory and suggests that it’s a myth brought on by advertising agencies looking to push more drugs. With the debate still ongoing, keeping serotonin a part of the conversation is still important. The verdict is, however, still out there about how much or little serotonin each of us needs and it is important to understand depression is also linked to several other neurotransmitter imbalances.
Depression casts a wide net of potential contributing factors and whether or not you get stuck in a depressive episode can rely on a number of factors, including genetics, stressful life events, exposure to trauma, physical illness, stress, physical pain, social isolation, and other emotional orders. Additionally, depression can be connected to conditions such as inflammation along with the structural brain changes from a traumatic event or chronic stress, which ultimately could be the true cause of the imbalances.
Healing the brain – Neural Regeneration
A recent study has shown that when people suffer from depression, there’s a specific region of the brain can atrophy and possibly even shrink. This area, known as the hippocampus, is responsible for memory, learning, and your emotions.
The good news is that this area of the brain is also able to recover from damages done. This is done by growing new neurons that form new connections. This process, known as “neurogenesis” or “neural regeneration” is something we once thought only young brains were capable of, however, researchers have shown that our brains have the ability to change throughout our lives. This is known as “neuroplasticity.”
What this has shown us that the reason antidepressants or SSRIs work is that they stimulate neural regeneration in the hippocampus. This would explain why it takes so long for them to kick in. During that first couple of weeks, the brain neurons are healing, growing, and forming new connections.
How CBD Oil Can Help stimulate Neural regeneration
The FDA recently granted approval for cannabidiol as a cannabis-derived drug to treat epileptic seizures. Researchers showed that the most contributing factor it works for seizures is the CBD protects the neurons in the hippocampus, which of course, is the brain area that is impacted in depressed people.
Here are a few studies to look at to further introduce CBD oil and depression:
There’s a growing number of scientist that think CBD could protect and/or regenerate the hippocampus in the following ways:
- Endocannabinoids: Endocannabinoids are used all through the body and brain to help regulate inflammation, appetite, and memory. Although CBD’s impact on the endocannabinoid system is still not fully understood, it does seem to increase the brain’s natural levels of endocannabinoids. In a study using mice, CBD increased the levels of anandamide in the hippocampus, which ended up stimulating neuron growth.
- Serotonin receptors: Just like the antianxiety drug buspirone, CBD activates the serotonin receptor 5-HT1A. Buspirone has also shown to increase neurogenesis in the opossum hippocampus, so the hope is that CBD will have similar effects.
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF): This is a protein in the body that helps existing neurons survive as well as encourages the growth of new neurons and connections. Several rodent studies have shown that CBD can increase BDNF levels in the hippocampus.
Can CBD oil help with depression?
What’s been proven is that CBD does help protect and grow neurons, however, stating that it can be useful in treating a disease like depression is still too much of a stretch. The preliminary evidence is hopeful and we hope that a large-scale human trial will be sooner than later, but until then, we must continue to be cautious with our claims.
If you or a loved one is suffering from depression, we encourage you to reach out to a medical professional and/or find a local resource here.
As we at Timberline CBD continue to research and provide you with the most up-to-date information we can find on the ingredients we offer in our products, we encourage you to check with your own doctor before adding any medication or supplement to your regimen.