You Are Here: Home»Depression»Exploring the 21st century science offering new answers for depression
Exploring the 21st century science offering new answers for depression
Posted by :Clare LouisePosted date : March 15, 2019In DepressionComments Off on Exploring the 21st century science offering new answers for depression
Western society is yet to get a grip on mental health. The approach of trying to treat everybody with a pharmaceutical pill is failing, to the detriment of patients suffering from the likes of depression and anxiety. It doesn’t help that there has been a huge stigma surrounding mental health, and that many people don’t feel comfortable talking about their internal troubles.
Concerningly, the chance of matters improving soon look bleak, especially in America. Recent World Happiness Report figures showed that the US is now the 18th happiest country in the world, down from 14th. Rising rates of depressions and the ongoing opioid crisis were stated as leading contributors to an increasingly unhappy US.
However, there is potential for things to change if an unlikely treatment option is studied and embraced: cannabis, or more specifically, the primary non-psychoactive derivative of cannabis, cannabidiol (CBD). To America’s credit, states have led the way globally on cannabis reform, with California first legalizing the plant medicinally in the mid-1990s, a move which nearly 30 states have followed since. However, while legal in many states, research into the benefits of cannabis and wholesale CBD products has remained thin on the ground, especially in regard to how the herb may help to treat mental illness. This is partially because society has looked at cannabis as a danger for psychological wellbeing, and not a benefit.
Cannabis and mental health: CBD vs THC
So far, more than 400 unique compounds have been discovered in the cannabis plant, but tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD are easily the most important. That said, the two have little in common. THC gets you high, CBD doesn’t. THC binds directly to cannabinoid receptors 1 and 2, while CBD reduces activity at these receptors. Taking THC can cause short-term anxiety and paranoia, and trigger schizophrenia and psychosis in those susceptible to these mental disorders. In contrast, CBD has well-documented anti-anxiety qualities, and has been shown to have antipsychotic properties which could help to treat schizophrenia and psychosis. CBD also has prominent mood-enhancing effects, and is an ideal natural candidate to treat depression.
The new science of depression
Up to 7 percent of US adults experience at least one bout of major depressive disorder each year – this is where the symptoms of depression last for a minimum of two weeks. CBD doesn’t relieve depression in the traditional way that SSRI drugs do, by inhibiting reuptake of serotonin, but by addressing levels of another antidepressant chemical, anandamide, and by reducing brain inflammation.
What is anandamide, and why does it matter?
Anandamide is an endogenous compound, and an endocannabinoid. This chemical has a key role to play in the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which has major influence over our psychological health due to being present in the central nervous system. However, scientists did not know of anandamide’s existence until 1990, so the science around it is new, and we’re still learning.
Several receptors in various systems impact our mood, and one of these is the CB1 receptor in the ECS. Anandamide is a partial agonist of this receptor, which accounts for its antidepressant properties. Those experiencing low mood and depression may be suffering from a deficiency of anandamide, which can be corrected by taking CBD. CBD increases levels of anandamide in the same way that SSRI drugs boost concentrations of serotonin, by acting as reuptake inhibitors.
Does brain inflammation explain depression?
The theory that chemical imbalance is behind depression has been shown to be not completely correct, if not thoroughly disproven. While serotonin levels have an effect on mood, they are not the sole determinant. More recently, studies on the physical changes that happen to the brain in patients with depression has found that inflammation and structural damage could be causing the disorder. Interestingly, SSRIs do initiate a minor neurogenesis effect – since these drugs are not fully understood, it’s possible that this is the reason why SSRIs have antidepressant properties.
Not only does CBD also promote neurogenesis in critical brain regions, such as the hippocampus, but the cannabinoid is a valuable anti-inflammatory, that can regulate the immune system through interactions with the ECS. This two-pronged effect may contribute to the impressive and sustained relief which CBD can offer from depression, as demonstrated by rodent studies.
Cannabinoid research is incredibly promising for depression, and people are already self-medicating with CBD oil wholesale products. The next step is for a comprehensive review on the antidepressant effects of CBD, complete with brain scans.