Plant Science – How CBD Can Benefit Our Mental Health

Far from being just a compound, CBD reaps many of the benefits of cannabis without the psychoactive high. CBD is rising in popularity within the healthcare and wellness market as a great natural supplement intended for pain management, promoting calmness and maintaining general equilibrium. 

On the one hand, there is still research to be done with regards to CBD and its interactions with the bodies. On the other hand, there are more than sufficient case studies and scientific affirmations to confirm the validity of CBD with regards to the amelioration of mental health and wellbeing. So, how can CBD benefit one’s mental health?

What Is CBD?

CBD is a natural compound that stands for cannabidiol. It is derived from the same species of plants as marijuana, but viewing CBD as a recreational drug would be wrong. It is a therapeutic substance that can help people from a variety of walks of life cope with everyday health issues and other problems in a safe way. This is not a substance that you are going to ingest to enjoy any kind of ‘high’.

The chemical that allows marijuana users to get ‘high’ is called THC. This, like CBD, is one of the active ingredients of marijuana. The CBD products that you can buy for therapeutic use either do not contain any THC or include it only in negligible amounts. This is because CBD products are derived from the hemp plant, rather than the marijuana plant. The plants are part of the same family but are only cousins.

CBD On The Brain – How Cannabidiol Acts On The Grey Matter

CBD acts on receptors in our brain and central nervous system. So what does CBD do?

But let’s be very clear here before we go any further… If you were to take anything that could offer the potential to improve your mental health, it needs to do something to your brain. But that doesn’t mean doing something bad, which could lead to a negative change in your condition.

It is important to note that CBD is a psychoactive substance. But, and this is a big “BUT”, cannabidiol is non-intoxicating, and there is a BIG difference between mind-altering compounds and a psychoactive substance.

Psychoactive chemicals act on the central nervous system (CNS) and alter brain function. This means that they cause temporary changes in consciousness, behavior, mood, or perception. CBD impacts mood and other behaviors. That means that there are psychoactive effects. But they are mild, and certainly not mind-altering.

CBD positively affects the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a complex cell-signaling system. In terms of mental health, we know that ECS plays a role in regulating sleep, mood, stress, memory, and learning.

CBD & Mental Health

To follow the science, we need to know what studies have said about how CBD can improve mental health. Today, there is a large body of research on this, and it is increasing all the time. Take these examples.

  • Researchers found that CBD inhibits the breakdown of anandamide which is a neurotransmitter associated with mood and pain sensitivity;
  • CBD can affect a process that damages brain cells – A study concluded that CBD shows promise in reducing excitotoxicity, the damage caused when brain cells become overstimulated. Excitotoxicity results from brain injury, stroke, hearing loss, and conditions such as multiple sclerosis;
  • CBD helps to diminish oxidative damage – Research has concluded that CBD has antioxidative properties which reduce cell damage. Oxidative damage is associated with psychological conditions including depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder;
  • CBD helps to reduce blood flow to areas of the brain associated with anxiety – in a study, participants “felt better” after taking CBD and its use changed the way the brain responds to anxiety;
  • CBD is thought to interfere with serotonin and vanilloid receptors – these receptors are responsible for delivering pain relief and reducing feelings of anxiety. CBD does so without arousing any feeling of euphoria;
  • CBD is helpful in the treatment of social anxiety – the same research concluded that CBD could help in the treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and patients diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Is CBD Safe To Take For My Mental Health Issues?

The answer is yes. A report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) concluded that CBS is generally well tolerated with a positive safety profile and without the potential for abuse or dependence.

Research has also shown that regular users of CBD do not appear to build up a tolerance to it over time.

This is good news for people with mental health conditions. While some people may suffer temporary periods of anxiety and depression, for many, these are lifetime conditions. And that is particularly so for those with more severe mental health issues.

However, as with any medication or therapeutic treatment, there is the potential for side effects. As reported by Harvard University, these include nausea, fatigue, and irritability. CBD can also improve the levels of the blood thinner coumadin. It could also raise levels of certain other medications in your blood by the exact same mechanism that grapefruit juice does.

The advice is simple, and as it would be for commencing any therapeutic, medication, or lifestyle change. If in doubt, it is advised to consult with a medical practitioner first.

The Role Of CBD In Holistic Mental Wellbeing

Ultimately, CBD needs to be used as a tool, in conjunction with a variety of other stress and anxiety-relieving treatments and techniques, for maximum effectiveness.

This includes good sleep routines, proper nutrition, exercise, and other stress management techniques. Combine CBD with all of these for a holistic approach to stress and anxiety management, and promote positive steps to wellbeing and benefit your mental health, especially during these difficult times of coronavirus outbreak.

And finally, always talk to your doctor before trying any CBD products. The molecule may interfere with other medications and may not be enough to alleviate debilitating mental health conditions. If you’re experiencing severe anxiety or mental health problems, then you should always reach out to a medical professional before addressing your mental health with supplementation.

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