Is CBD good for mental health?

by Chloe Palmer

If you haven’t heard of CBD by now, you’re certainly missing out! Fastly growing in popularity, CBD (short for cannabinoid) is the non-psychoactive compound extracted from the hemp plant. You can find CBD products in multiple forms, including oil, drinks and gummies, in many supermarkets and health stores, such as Holland and Barrett.

It’s very important to note that this compound isn’t the same as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). While CBD and THC originate from the same plant species, THC produces high feelings, which CBD does not! Rather, it interacts with the ECS (endocannabinoid system) that’s responsible for keeping the body in balance, including several of our body functions like sleep and stress, which is why many people are turning to CBD products as a remedy for various mental health issues. While more research needs to be conducted to determine all potential benefits of CBD, what we do know is promising. Read on to learn all about CBD oil for mental health.

How does CBD work?

CBD is said to interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is a network of neurotransmitters responsible for regulating our internal homeostasis. This biological structure was discovered in the 1990s, and consists of three parts: enzymes, endocannabinoids and receptors. It impacts several of our bodily functions, including sleep, mood and memory. So, what is its role alongside CBD?

Well, when you consume CBD, whether that’s placing a tincture of oil under the tongue, eating a gummy or enjoying one of TRIP’s CBD-infused drinks, it’s thought the compound interacts with your body’s CB1 and CB2 receptors (which are within the ECS system) to produce some of these therapeutic feelings. There receptors are found all over the body and the parts with the highest concentration of them are most impacted by cannabinoids, including the brain.

Now you know how CBD works within the body, it’s time to find out how you can use it to aid your mental health.

Five mental health uses for CBD

1. CBD for PTSD 

PTSD (post-traumatic-stress-disorder) can be a debilitating condition. Causing symptoms like intrusive thoughts, nightmares and sleep difficulties, these can lead to people suffering with poor mental health as a result. PTSD is most commonly associated with war veterans, however, anyone who has experienced a traumatic event can experience it— no one is immune from the impacts of trauma. 

Therapy and medication are the generic forms of treatment for PTSD, but many are incorporating CBD products into their lifestyle to help with sleep and relaxation — both of which reduce common symptoms of the condition. Although research into CBD and how it affects PTSD is minimal, one case study found that 12-37mg of oral CBD oil consumption lead to a reduction in anxiety symptoms and sleep disturbance for a ten-year old PTSD patient.

2. CBD for anxiety

Anxiety is a prevalent issue for lots of people, massively impacting how they function day-to-day. From our social interactions and relationships with people, to our sleep and eating habits, anxiety can cause a range of physical and mental symptoms, including fatigue, lack of concentration, and muscle tension. 

Some studies suggest that taking CBD can help to soothe anxiety symptoms, however, especially for those experiencing social anxiety. Research revealed that “pretreatment with CBD significantly reduced anxiety, cognitive impairment and discomfort in their speech performance.” This study was carried out on individuals with social anxiety disorder (SAD), with half of participants receiving CBD and the other, a placebo — those receiving the placebo reported higher anxiety, discomfort and alert levels.

3. CBD for depression

Depression is one of the most common mental disorders around, affecting millions of people worldwide. This condition tends to be treated by medication and therapy, however, interest in alternative treatment is on the rise. CBD, for example, exhibited “anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects” when tested in animal models.

Depression is often linked to low serotonin levels, yet one promising study found that seven days of CBD treatment “reduced mechanical allodynia, decreased anxiety-like behaviour, and normalised 5-HT activity.” This means that participants experienced fewer pain sensations from light touch, This is thought to be because CBD interacts with the serotonin receptor (5-HT) — although it doesn’t boost serotonin per se, its interaction is positive. CBD may also provide anti-stress effects, which can help to reduce depression symptoms related to stress.

4. CBD for sleep difficulties

Find it hard to drift off to sleep at night? You’re not alone! Getting enough shut-eye is important not only for our bodies to rest, but our mind too. So much so that a lack of sleep can start to impact an individual’s mental state. Insomnia is also a symptom of mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. 

Luckily, one of the possible benefits of adding CBD to your daily routine is creating a calming effect. Patients partaking in CBD clinical trials “were more likely to experience sedation and somnolence in comparison to placebo.” While another study conducted in New Zealand found that users benefited from “an increase in overall life quality”, as well as “an increase in appetite and better sleep.”

5. CBD for epilepsy

The reasons aren’t completely understood yet, but epilepsy is related to a few mental health problems. The changes that occur in brain function in these different conditions tend to be similar, which is why they’re often linked. Living with epilepsy is not easy, and naturally, this may be the cause of an individual’s declining mental health. According to research, chronically ill people may “develop psychiatric disorders, most commonly depression and anxiety” due to the non-negotiable life changes that happen after diagnosis. 

CBD is said to help with neurological symptoms and potentially reduce the frequency and severity of seizures, however, a study in those diagnosed with Dravet Syndrome (a complex childhood epilepsy disorder), found that CBD saw a “50% reduction in convulsion-seizure frequency” for 43% of patients.

Types of CBD

There are three main types of CBD available:

  • Isolate

This is a pure CBD crystal form that is ground up and sold as a powder. It’s suitable for first-time CBD users who want to discover the potential health benefits without worrying about THC content. However, compared to full-spectrum products, the effects may be less notable.

  • Full-spectrum

Full-spectrum CBD contains all components of the hemp plant, including THC. It may provide a more potent effect than pure CBD due to its combination of compounds. This is the type favoured by those suffering with anxiety, depression or psychotic disorders as it’s more effective than isolate due to the entourage effect — when CBD and THC combine..

  • Broad-spectrum

Similar to full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum products contain additional hemp compounds but with zero or trace amounts of THC. They also may have a higher likelihood of causing the purported health benefits because of the entourage effect.

For CBD products to be manufactured and sold in the UK, they must have less than 0.2% THC content by law.

Ways to consume CBD

CBD can be consumed in several ways. Most buyers opt for CBD oil that is taken sublingually by placing a dosage under your tongue. This method is simple, efficient and is the fastest way for it to reach your bloodstream. As it takes effect quicker than other forms of CBD, you might find this a preferable option for mental health purposes. You can even add CBD oil to your morning smoothie or coffee for an extra pick-me-up, or incorporated into your baking recipes. That said, this way of consumption may take over an hour to kick in — the effects will likely last longer though. We have wild mint and orange blossom flavoured CBD oil at TRIP, meaning you don’t need to mix it with something else if you find the compound’s natural earthy taste a little unpleasant.

Capsules are also popular, especially if you want to maintain a consistent level of CBD in your body. Set a daily reminder to take it and you may experience feelings of relaxation, which might help with your symptoms. And finally, CBD is now a top ingredient in many beauty and skincare products, so you can apply the compound topically. However, this application is most commonly used for sore muscles, skin conditions and migraines.

Is CBD safe for mental health use?

CBD is completely safe and legal to consume, however, there has been speculation over possible side effects and this can sometimes put people off. To reassure you, there have only been very few cases of this happening. Some have experienced drowsiness, diarrhoea or excessive sweating, but this is likely due to the carrier oil that the compound is mixed with. Here at TRIP, we combine the compound with MCT oil, which actually has a number of potential benefits, from providing energy and helping to manage blood sugar levels. 

All in all, it is definitely safe to use CBD products for mental health purposes — the research says so! If you are concerned about implementing it into your routine, consult with your GP or another relevant healthcare professional before you have your first dose as they can provide additional guidance for you to follow.

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