Research interest in CBD is at an all-time high right now. Tons of CBD producers and retailers are advertising products with Cannabidiol. Influencers have taken to their platforms with CBD products boasting about its healing properties. Federal and state governments are updating their legislations, and even regulatory authorities are re-examining their positions on CBD and hemp products. Attitudes toward the use of CBD have changed drastically.
A simple web search for CBD will show that CBD is most commonly cited as a treatment for pain, insomnia, and anxiety. A deeper dive reveals other possible uses of CBD as well, including the FDA approved drug for epilepsy, Epidiolex. However, the fact remains that CBD seems to be most useful when targeted at mental health-related issues.
Why Mental Health and CBD Have Taken A Backseat
There’s one straightforward reason why people may not be too eager to discuss CBD’s mental health benefits: the stigma. The move towards popularizing CBD and pushing it into mainstream use has focused on marketing how CBD can help people with various physiological problems.
This strategy helps move focus away from the psychoactive effects of CBD. Attitudes toward psychoactive substances have been negative, and the criminalization of marijuana was enforced due to them.
However, there are two things we need to realize. First, that CBD can have effects on the mind and our mental states. Second, those effects aren’t necessarily harmful or addictive. Drugs banned for addictive and harmful behaviors are blacklisted rightly, and there’s no question that they should be criminalized.
However, CBD is non-addictive and mild. Therefore, people using CBD for mental health benefits are no different from anti-anxiety or anti-depression meds.
Why CBD May Be Better For Mental Health
People with mental health illnesses have become disillusioned with pharmaceutical solutions being offered to them. Not only are psychiatric medications super expensive, but many insurance companies also don’t cover them. Until recently, cannabis was only available in marijuana form. However, CBD-heavy hemp and the 2018 Farm Bill’s new guidelines for hemp growth and CBD products has made it much easier for consumers to buy CBD products.
Image Source: Hinterland co.
There’s more to it than that, though. When you consume CBD as the primary cannabinoid, the effects are vastly different than that of THC. There’s a system in our body called the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a network of receptors, enzymes, and endocannabinoids that help our body maintain its optimal state. When we consume cannabinoids, it’s the ECS and its receptors that are activated in response.
THC and CBD bind to the various categories of receptors in the ECS entirely differently. CBD has even been shown to act as an antagonist to THC’s effects on the receptor that interacts with our Central Nervous System, a part of our brain.
CBD has been shown to influence the sleep cycle, appetite, pain response, and inflammation more than the part of our brain that influences reality perceptions. CBD’s efficacy with mental health illnesses seems to come from its effects on these aspects of our body’s function.
CBD and Anxiety
While there isn’t enough data for doctors to start prescribing CBD as a medication or solution to anxiety, research conducted on the topic has shown a 79% success rate for reducing anxious symptoms through CBD.
Moreover, the legalization of CBD use in most states in the US has led to mass consumption. Polls about CBD’s effects on anxiety report that 63% of people who use CBD are successfully using it for anxiety.
CBD seems to be working for people with anxiety because of its impact on symptoms. When people have less extreme reactions to a stress trigger, it leaves them open for growth through mental health counseling. CBD acts to control the most urgent problems associated with anxiety and create space for people to target the underlying problem.
However, this doesn’t mean it’s a cure. The evidence only suggests that CBD can be used therapeutically in mild doses.
CBD and Cannabis-Related Disorders
Ironically, CBD is also actively investigated in its utility against cannabis-related disorders. Cannabis-related disorders refer to the consistent overuse of marijuana, often to the detriment of the person’s quality of life. The overuse of marijuana is a slow process but usually leads to anxiety, memory problems, motor skill degradation, and weak social interactive skills.
Multiple studies document the positive effects of CBD use in decreasing marijuana usage. One possible reason for this could be that CBD can alleviate THC withdrawal’s adverse side effects and counteract the high THC creates.
Researchers are interested in developing CBD exposure therapy as a transitioning tool for people who are quitting marijuana. This means easing insomnia, regulating appetite, and reducing anxiety and paranoia. CBD is ideal for all these symptoms!
CBD, Mental Health and the Consumer Market
What comes up a lot in the debate around CBD is the skepticism surrounding the market’s products. The FDA has not approved CBD’s use for mental health disorders, which means that they do not control the price and quality of CBD goods you’re buying.
However, that doesn’t mean that all CBD products out there are fraudulent. Government agencies keep a close eye on CBD businesses, ensuring they’re following the regulations set out by the FDA and the USDA. One way to ensure that you’re buying the best CBD products is to see if the website or store has certificates of analysis.
You can usually find them on the website in the product description section. This product page from the company, Miami Rave, has a full chart that shows everything you need to know about the product’s chemical composition.
The FDA also awards Good Manufacturing Practice certifications. So, when shopping for CBD products, make sure you watch out for the GMP symbol.
All in all, CBD implications for mental health seem to be encouraging and safe, although it may be a while before doctors clinically prescribe it.
About The Author
Joseph Morehead is a CBD enthusiast with experience in counseling and mental health support. He has been following the debate on CBD and its efficacy for mental health conditions since the 2018 Federal Farm Bill.
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