Cannabidiol, or CBD in short, is an ingredient of the cannabis plant that is believed to have exceptional medicinal properties, and is thought to have been used to treat a wide variety of health conditions since 750 BC.
CBD is one of the 100+ ingredients found in the cannabis plant and has been advertised as a way to help pain relief, depression, anxiety, and other stress-related disorders. One of its most significant claims is that it is non-psychotic, which means it won't give you a “high.” This is because it contains less than 0.3% of a component called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Are these claims valid? Let's take a look at what science says.
Role of CBD in Dealing with Anxiety
Many studies are being conducted to determine the effect of CBD on anxiety. One such study analyzed CBD’s impact on Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), a common anxiety condition that impacts millions of people worldwide. 24 people were selected for a simulated public speaking test (SPST) and were administered CBD. An equal number of people were not administered any medication and participated in the same experimental session. The results heavily suggested that CBD reduced nervousness and cognitive impairment in people with SAD.
Many experiments and studies have been done to understand CBD's effects on depression, but they have only been conducted on rodents at the time of writing this piece. One such study concluded that CBD has complex pharmacology that works effectively in neurotransmitter systems that are known to be involved in depression. Specifically, it is believed to interact with serotonin and the endocannabinoid system in the brain to induce cellular and molecular changes to reduce depression.
This study indicated that CBD had a much quicker impact on reducing depression than conventional antidepressants, but as these experiments were conducted on rats, the link to humans is unfortunately inconclusive. Another 2019 study conducted on animals concluded that CBD's effect on depression is likely to be quicker and more lasting when compared to existing medications. These results are positive, but more evidence and the link between CBD and depression will become clear only after human trials begin.
Studies also show that withdrawal symptoms and other side-effects may be more manageable with CBD than traditional medicines. CBD can sometimes have side-effects like nausea and mild stomach pain, but it is not believed to cause drastic changes in your serotonin levels that could lead to harsher withdrawal symptoms.
Due to these reasons, CBD could be a great choice for some when treating depression and other anxiety-related disorders, especially when compared to existing antidepressants available today.
CBD and Neurological Dysfunction
Prolonged neurological dysfunction most often occurs due to a traumatic brain injury, which, in turn, causes chronic pain and depression. Currently, there's no known treatment for this condition.
A group of researchers in Naples, Italy, decided to try CBD on a mice model to see its impact. They administered 10% CBD oil on mice for 1 to 14 days and from the 50th to 60th day. They found a beneficial impact on dysfunction and non-abnormal behavioral changes in these mice. Much of this was attributed to CBD's interactions in the cortical biochemical release process, which has enthused researchers to further explore CBD’s benefits to treat traumatic brain injuries.
CBD and Chronic Pain
Many clinical studies show that CBD interacts with serotonin receptors to provide analgesic and anxiolytic effects. This essentially means that CBD interacts with pain receptors in your brain and suppresses them, reducing that chronic pain.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for both pain and depression. In fact, many studies conducted on mice show that chronic pain is a precursor to depression. This anxiety and depression seemed to increase after a surgery or any other form of trauma.
Many studies show that CBD works with serotonin to control both pain and the anxiety/depression that comes with it. In fact, one such extensive study showed that CBD plays a significant role in treating neuropathic pain and comorbid mood disorders, thereby paving the way for more such studies.
Most studies' unanimous result is that CBD does have pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties, but all of these are based on animal studies only.
To conclude, CBD is believed to have a positive impact on pain management and mood-related disorders. While it has been used for several thousands of years in India and China, scientists today are slowly beginning to understand its potential role in modern medicine. Many studies have been conducted to assess CBD's impact on pain management and depression, and the initial results are positive.
Numerous studies clearly show that CBD could have a beneficial effect in treating chronic pain and other anxiety disorders, including depression and traumatic brain injury. Even though all these studies have been done only on mice and rodents, scientists are confident that their results are applicable for humans too, and they are waiting for approvals to conduct human trials.
CBD could have a potentially positive impact on treating chronic pain, mood disorders, and depression; however, the key is to choose a pure CBD oil if at all you wish to try. While choosing, check for the THC levels and ensure that it is less than 0.3% to eliminate any chance of a euphoric ‘high’ feeling. CBD is available in the form of oral formulations such as sprays and oils, foods such as CBD-infused gummies and chewable tablets, vaping, and topical applications such as ointments.
Finally, you should consult with healthcare professionals before beginning any CBD or medical regimens.