One in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. Around 450 million people currently suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
Treatments are available, but nearly two-thirds of people with a known mental disorder never seek help from a health professional. Stigma, discrimination, and neglect prevent care and treatment from reaching people with mental disorders, says the World Health Organization (WHO). Where there is neglect, there is little or no awareness. Where there is no awareness, there is neglect.
In a new report entitled “New Understanding, New Hope” the United Nations’ health agency seeks to break this vicious cycle and urges health care providers to seek solutions for mental health that are already available and affordable. Families, caregivers, and those individuals who suffer from mental health disorders are moving away from large mental institutions and prescription medication, towards alternative mental health care and natural compounds thanks to promising studies into CBD as a potential relief to symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Depression and anxiety disorders are common mental health conditions that have lasting effects on a person’s health, social life, ability to work, and overall well-being. CBD has shown promise in initial studies as a treatment for both depression and anxiety.
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is a natural plant-based oil that contains phyto (plant) chemicals called cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are “feel good” molecules naturally made by the body when we are feeling relaxed and secure or involved in something that makes us happy, like hugging someone we care about or sitting down to a meal we are looking forward to. Cannabinoids are also released when we sleep well and exercise. Cannabinoids bind to little docking stations in our bodies called cannabinoid receptors that help stimulate those feel-good responses. Discovered in 1992, the main cannabinoid molecule is called anandamide, which is translated from the Sanskrit as “bliss molecule.”
The endocannabinoid system is key to helping the body keep itself in balance. This system ensures our stomach and intestines run well, keeps inflammation down, and modulates pain while helping to maintain our mood in a good place. Research suggests the cannabinoids from CBD can stop the breakdown of anandamide. When we retain more anandamide in our body, there’s more bliss.
When there is more bliss, there is more balance. When there is more balance, there is more bliss. The findings of research from 2014 may hemp explain why CBD could be useful in treating depression. They indicate that, in most studies, CBD appears to have a positive interaction with serotonin receptors in the brain. Keeping serotonin levels balanced is often a key therapy for people with both anxiety and depression. When serotonin levels are in balance, the mind is in a more blissful state. Serotonin impacts a range of functions in the body, including a person’s emotional state and feelings of well-being or happiness.
The authors of this article also found that the compound worked without activating the brain’s endocannabinoids receptors directly, which may indicate that there is less risk of CBD becoming habit-forming, or addictive. Making it a safe alternative for those seeking a natural alternative with little to no side-effects. This is important because many people who are in this state of mental illness are concerned about the habit-forming potential of antidepressants and cannabis compounds.
While there is some promising evidence for the future use of CBD as an antidepressant, we encourage all current and future consumers to do their own research and exploration with their health professional.