Unless you have been living under a rock for the last couple of years, there is no doubt that you would have heard about CBD Oil.
You know, that amazing new compound that can literally cure anything?
Yep, that one.
Now, one of the key reasons for its rapid rise in popularity comes down to the fact that it has been touted as a highly effective and completely natural method of treating depression.
However, its use in the general population has far outpaced the research surrounding it.
In short, we don’t really know whether it is truly beneficial for people suffering from depression, or if this is just a misconception.
Which is exactly why I decided to do some in-depth research on the topic…
What is CBD Oil?
First and foremost, I should state that CBD is short for Cannabidiol – which is a unique bioactive compound found naturally occurring in the marijuana plant.
Consequently, CBD oil is a potent extract of this compound, which comes in oil form.
Makes sense, right?
So, for those of you who have been living under a rock for the last couple of decades, marijuana refers to the leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds of the cannabis plant. Now, as most of you would be aware, this plant is known for containing the chemical THC.
THC is a compound that can be categorized as a type of cannabinoid. It is this specific compound that gives cannabis its potent psychoactive properties.
In short, it is THC that is entirely responsible for the recreational use of cannabis across the globe.
However, while THC is unquestionably the most well-known cannabinoid found in the marijuana plant, it is important to note that it is not the only one.
In fact, there are over a whopping 100 bioactive cannabinoids found within the plant – of which each can impact your body in several different ways, and without eliciting any psychoactive effects.
And of these compounds, CBD is one of particular interest.
See, CBD has been shown to interact with specific receptors found within your brain. Through this interaction, it has been hypothesized to impact your mood, emotional control, your stress, and even your sleep – all of which may have an impact on depression.
But is this really the case?
CBD Oil for Depression: The good
As I alluded to earlier, although there isn’t a heap of human research on CBD oil, we are now seeing a few individual studies getting published – of which a number have shown some positive signs.
CBD Oil and Anxiety
First and foremost, research has shown that supplementing with CBD oil (that contains at least 400mg of pure CBD) daily can reduce blood flow to those key parts of your brain that become overactive when you are suffering from severe anxiety.
With this in mind, some small scale research has shown that CBD oil can reduce the anxiety associated with public speaking in healthy individuals.
Given that there are strong associations with anxiety and depression, this can only be taken as a positive sign for CBD as a depression treatment.
CBD Oil and Sleep
Similarly, CBD has been shown to interact with some of the key brain receptors that help control sleep. In this manner, it can also enhance feelings of relaxation and general wellbeing. As a result, there is some research to suggest that it can improve sleep quality, and even help treat insomnia.
However, it is important to note that the research here has been done on a single 10-year-old girl.
Obviously, more research is needed…
Within this, you might be wondering why in the world this is important?
Well, I should state that most people suffering from depression also suffer from associated sleep disorders. In fact, some practitioners believe that you cannot have one without the other.
As a result, this positive impact on sleep may also have a positive effect on depressive symptoms.
CBD Oil and Depression
Finally, for the big one – CBD oil and depression.
Positively, there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that CBD oil can have an extremely positive impact on depressive symptoms. Impressively, this impact seems to be comparable to most prescription depression medications but not as impactful as TMS.
The negative here is that the bulk of the research performed in this area has been performed on mice…
While this does give us a fairly good indication that CBD oil might have some positive effects on depression symptoms, more research in humans is needed.
CBD Oil: The Bad
Okay, so now for the not so good stuff.
Firstly, I should reiterate that while there are indeed some positive early sings when it comes to CBD oil and depression, most of the research has been done in either:
- Very small population groups
- Unique and specific population groups
As a result, we really don’t know how CBD impacts real living humans who are suffering from depression.
Secondly, CBD oil is not without its side effects. When it comes to supplements and health, we tend to get caught up in the positive aspects, while completely ignoring the negatives – which is obviously far from ideal.
See, the consumption of CBD oil has been shown to cause several minor side effects that include:
- Changes in appetite
- Mood swings
- Anxious feelings
- Dry mouth
The fact that these specific side effects may also contribute to increased stress and decline in the mental state means that they may also make depressive symptoms worse.
Which is not good…
Importantly, CBD oil has also been shown to interact uniquely with a vast number of medications. Consequently, it may have the ability to cause a myriad of other adverse effects that we are not yet aware of.
CBD Oil: The Ugly
So, what about the ugly? Can CBD oil have some seriously negative effects?
Well, the short answer is yes – in certain situations, anyway.
See, CBD oil has been shown to decrease the activity of specific immune cells known as T Cells and B Cells. This can, in turn, slightly impair the function of your immune system.
Now, while this may not be all that bad in most people under completely normal circumstances, it can have some rather disastrous effects in some people. This is because it means that CBD oil has the potential to worsen any infections within your body, while also exacerbating several diseases, including HIV, cancer, asthma, and metastases.
Consequently, it may make you sicker if you have any of these conditions – even if you don’t know about them at this point in time.
Finally, you also need to consider the fact that because CBD oil is currently marketed as a supplement (rather than as a medication), it’s quality control is less than desirable. This means that you may not know exactly how much CBD you are getting per serve, or what the quality of that CBD is – or if it is even CBD at all.
As I am sure you can imagine, this opens itself up to several other potential implications.
As with anything in the world of health and fitness, you shouldn’t believe everything you hear – especially when it comes to supplements.
With this in mind, while there is indeed a growing body of evidence to suggest that CBD oil may have the potential to help treat depression in certain circumstances, we need some real human research before we can say it with any confidence.
Moreover, considering that CBD oil can also come with some rather nasty side effects, it might be best to give it a miss for the time being.