According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, “approximately 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness in a year.” Today, our society relies heavily on pharmaceuticals which are typically long-term treatment options that come with countless side effects.
People have traditionally smoked marijuana containing the controversial psychoactive THC. THC gets you “high,” which helps some find relief from things like anxiety. But for those with mental health issues, THC is not always best for relief. But CBD can be! As a natural alternative, CBD has many benefits with no side effects. This plants has worked wonders for many. Can it help you? Let’s find out!
CBD is known for its wide array of benefits which help ailments such as:
- Anxiety, including social anxiety
CBD & Depression/Anxiety
While it is widely known that marijuana can be used to reduce anxiety and depression, sometimes this can be disastrous. However, researchers agree that CBD alone is a powerful, natural anxiolytic (drug used to reduce anxiety). When used as needed, CBD appears safe, well-tolerated, and may be beneficial for those who experience anxiety-related disorders and/or depression.
Depression is a common medical issue that causes feelings of sadness. Depression can lead to emotional and physical problems resulting in the inability to function at work or at home. Unfortunately, there are approximately 3 million cases in the U.S. per year. Drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are prescribed to many who experience anxiety and depression.
CBD may boost signaling through serotonin receptors. What does this mean? SSRIs block reabsorption of serotonin in the brain. This helps the brain cells transmit more serotonin signals reducing anxiety and boosting your mood in some cases. In an animal study, researchers found that CBD may affect serotonin levels faster than SSRIs. Serotonin is known as the “feel good” chemical contributing to wellbeing and happiness. CBD may boost the availability of serotonin reducing our anxiety and depression!
CBD & Stress
As the saying goes, “stress kills!” When stressed, our adrenal glands release the stress chemical cortisol. Increased levels of cortisol can cause big health problems including high blood pressure, weakened muscles, weight gain, fatigue, infections, and more.
You've guessed it - CBD helps to protect against excess stress. As an effective anti-catabolic substance (a substance which protects muscle mass in the body from being broken down), CBD counteracts cortisol from being released. Keeping cortisol levels in check allows our bodies to function at an optimal level as it:
- Reduces inflammation
- Regulates blood pressure
- Regulates your body’s sleep-wake cycle
- Manages how our body processes fats, proteins, etc.
Cortisol levels are naturally lowered when we are relaxed and get a good night’s sleep. Studies have also shown that CBD can help us unwind and achieve a great night’s sleep!
CBD & PTSD
Post-traumatic stress disorder affects approximately 10% of people at some point in life. Just as CBD helps to reduce anxiety, depression and stress, CBD can be a therapeutic alternative for PTSD. CBD (and THC) is capable of helping people who are suffering from PTSD by improving the endocannabinoid system’s (ECS) functions including memory consolidation and retrieval. For more information on how the ECS works, check out What is the ECS?.
Since CBD can play a role in preventing the retrieval of memory, it can help the body turn off the traumatic memories so people will not pay attention to them. An NYU study showed that those who experience PTSD have lower levels of the endocannabinoid known as anandamide. Anandamide acts as a natural antidepressant. Endocannabinoids or cannabinoids are compounds produced by our body that are partially responsible for our overall well being. As a cannabinoid, CBD operates in a similar way to anandamide. Incorporating CBD can stimulate the ECS to promote well being.
CBD has the potential to play a significant role in treating countless mental health disorders. Luckily, as a society, we are talking more about mental health and working to remove the stigma. An open discussion is just as important as what you put in your body—- maybe reword this sentence to: An open discussion regarding what we put in our bodies to address mental health is just as important. —— Incorporating CBD along with a healthy diet, a solid sleep schedule and exercise can improve our health and wellness - body, mind & spirit. Stay healthy, friends!
Disclaimer: Most research describing how CBD works is pre-clinical and based on animal studies so studies don’t always neatly transfer to human therapies. These statements have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration (FDA). These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.