You may have heard in the news recently that more people are using cannabis for medicinal purposes these days. Some states have legalized the use of cannabis for these kinds of use and others even for recreational purposes. It’s obvious that the stigma associated with cannabis, or marijuana, is becoming smaller. Yet, some people who would otherwise benefit from its effects hesitate to use it because they don’t want to enter into an altered state of mind.
Many people have used marijuana in the past to relax and relieve anxiety. Some believe that this behavior is a sort of self-medication, where depressed people seek out substances that help them feel better. While a high dose of marijuana will cause higher anxiety on some people, more moderate doses act as an anxiolytic.
The cannabis plant produces a diverse number of substances, some of which are psychoactive and of which aren’t. The substance responsible for most of the psychoactive effects is THC (short for tetrahydrocannabinol). In contrast, CBD (short for cannabidiol) holds many of the healing properties of cannabis without any alteration of consciousness.
Many studies have been performed to determine the ability of CBD to reduce emotional and psychological symptoms, such as stress and depression. The fact that CBD has no psychoactive effects makes it harder for people to abuse it recreationally. This in turn makes it easier for scientists to support it and present it to government agencies as a viable option in psychological treatment.
Depression has been established as a clinical condition for several years now, and yet its treatment remains a very difficult problem. Not all people respond to all antidepressants, and many of these medications are associated with debilitating side effects, like insomnia, loss of appetite, and loss of sexual function. Finding alternative treatments with more tolerable side effects is an ever ongoing effort.
Stress and depression have some elements in common, particularly a neurotransmitter called serotonin, sometimes referred to as 5-HT (short for 5-hydroxytryptamine.) A neurotransmitter is a substance that acts as a messenger between two nerve cells. The interesting part is that depending on the part of the brain that serotonin is (or isn’t) released, the message might be interpreted differently. Most studies involving CBD have determined that this cannabis component definitely enhances serotonin levels in the brain. Some parts where CBD acts are responsible for feelings of stress, while others for feelings of depression.
Managing stress and depression is not just about feeling better. There are important health consequences for stress. Stress induces the release of cortisol, a hormone that has been linked to obesity and high cholesterol. Another effect of stress is the release of adrenaline, the hormone that ‘pumps you up’ when you need to fight or flee in the face of a threat. High levels of adrenaline can cause high blood pressure and heart conditions. A person free from stress will most likely live a longer, happier life.
You can find stores online that will sell you supplements containing CBD. It’s smart to check the legal status of CBD products in your area before you buy it. Also, make sure to check with your pharmacist or physician before taking any supplements, as well as informing them if you have already started.