Is CBD a good alternative to conventional antidepressants? Is it faster and more effective in treating depression?

Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide.  Sixteen million adults in the United States suffer from depression.  Depression has been increasing worldwide in the last 20 years, with a lifetime prevalence in women of 25% and in men of 10%. Should you take CBD for depression?

What causes depression?  Endocannabinoid deficiency causes low levels of 5HT1A which causes low levels of serotonin, which results in depression.

This was shown in multiple mouse-model studies demonstrating that the biochemical cause of depression is low levels of 5-HT1A. When the 5-HT1A levels are low, serotonin levels are low, and depression begins.

Low levels of serotonin also causes the limbic system to shrink.  The limbic system is in charge of our emotions, such as fear, pleasure, anger, interest in sex, and hunger.  This is the biochemical reason why people who are depressed are not just “sad” but are also emotionally “flat” with little to no interest in pleasure, sex, or basic human interactions.

CBD For Depression: Is there a new hope?
CBD For Depression: Is there a new hope?

How does CBD treat depression?

Studies were done with animal models.  CBD was administered, and the serotonin levels increased. However, further analysis revealed that this benefit was only seen in CBD and not THC (marijuana).  CB1 and CB2 (the sites where THC binds) were not involved at all when the serotonin levels increased.  The conclusion of the research demonstrated that CBD can successfully treat depression by increasing serotonin, but THC (conventional marijuana) has not success in treating depression, because THC exerts its effects only through the CB1 and CB2 receptors.

Therefore, though many medical cannabis users claim that their product helps to treat depression, the research shows that it is the CBD which helps, not the THC.

CBD for depression: How fast does it work?

Fast.  Conventional antidepressants can take 3 weeks to have an effect.  Studies performed on OBX mice showed that after the very first injection of CBD, there was an elevation in the serotonin levels of the mice and immediate improvement of behaviors consistent with a lifting of the depression.

Summary: If you are feeling “down” or have legitimate depression, there are two good reasons to use CBD.   One – it works    Two – it works fast

CBD for depression: Recommended delivery system?

Vapes – if you have depressive symptoms on and off. Learn more about medical benefits of vaping hemp flowers.

Orally – (CBD oil or Gelcaps) if you have depression ongoing.

Both – if you have chronic depression with periods of exacerbation.

References:

 “Prevalence of depression and depressive symptoms among outpatients: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” BMJ Open. 2017; 7(8)

“Cannabidiol Induces Rapid and Sustained Antidepressant-Like Effects Through Increased BDNF Signaling and Synaptogenesis in the Prefrontal Cortex.” Mol Neurobiol. 2018 Jun 4.  

“Antidepressant-like effects of cannabidiol in mice: possible involvement of 5-HT1A receptors.” Br J Pharmacol. 2010 Jan;159(1):122-8.

 “5-HT1A receptors are involved in the cannabidiol-induced attenuation of behavioural and cardiovascular responses to acute restraint stress in rats.” Br J Pharmacol. 2009 Jan;156(1):181-8.

“Depressive behavior and stress ulcer in Wistar Kyoto rats.”J Physiol Paris. 1993;87(4):229-38

 “Antidepressant-like and anxiolytic-like effects of cannabidiol: a chemical compound of Cannabis sativa.” CNS Neurol Disord Drug Targets. 2014;13(6):953-60.

 “Cannabidiol induces rapid-acting antidepressant-like effects and enhances cortical 5-HT/glutamate neurotransmission: role of 5-HT1A receptors.” Neuropharmacology. 2016 Apr;103:16-26.

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