Cannabidiol oil, more commonly known as CBD oil, is an emerging new treatment option for a host of physical and mental health problems. As with any treatment, CBD oil for mental health presents some uncertainties and risks, and as time progresses, many of these uncertainties will likely be resolved through additional data and use. In the meantime, an increasing number of doctors of all types are prescribing CBD oil for their patients suffering from various health issues.
It is important to note from the start that CBD oil is not an over-the-counter medication, and is, in fact, illegal in some states, owing to its relationship to marijuana. Nevertheless, many health experts are convinced that it has valid therapeutic effects and is worthwhile for their patients to try. It should be made clear that CBD oil is not, in fact, marijuana, nor will it cause a recreational high like marijuana.
What is CBD Oil?
Cannabidiol is one of many cannabis plant compounds, known as cannabidinoids, which can be harvested, extracted, and concentrated from the cannabis plant. This same plant is where marijuana is harvested from, though, as we’ll discuss in the next section, this does not mean CBD oil is or contains active ingredients of marijuana – it isn’t and doesn’t.
The primary active ingredient in marijuana, the one that gets people high, is tetrahydrocannabinol, more commonly known as THC. It is psychoactive and provides some well-documented effects when smoked or ingested. CBD, on the other hand, is not psychoactive. It has effects on the body, as any substance does, and scientists are just beginning to understand the positive effects that it can have. None of these mechanisms of action, however, involve THC or the “high” aspect of marijuana.
CBD oil is primarily synthesized from the most basic form of cannabis, the hemp plant. These plants are what are used in industrial settings to create hemp fibre and for other uses. They are not the refined, altered, processed form that is grown for marijuana use.
Is CBD Oil the Same as Marijuana?
Despite coming from the same base plant, CBD and marijuana are not the same things at all. Marijuana contains CBD compounds, as well as THC, and over the years has been processed, bred, and refined for plants that contain higher and higher amounts of THC, as well as other recreational characteristics. CBD, on the other hand, comes from unmodified hemp. THC content is naturally low, and in many jurisdictions, is removed to trace amounts (a few parts per million or parts per billion, at most) in the finished CBD oil product.
This can be thought of as the same kind of situation that exists with cocaine, the coca plant, and Coca-Cola. While it is true that back at the turn of the century, Coca-Cola did include some cocaine in the recipe, this has not been the case for nearly a century now. However, coca leaves are still essential to the flavour of the beverage. These are rendered free of their cocaine through processing before use in Coca-Cola production. While tiny trace amounts of cocaine may persist in the leaves and finished product, it is far less than that which exists on the most circulating paper money – in other words, virtually undetectable and with no meaningful effect on users.
CBD oil is much the same in this regard. While it may have small or trace amounts of THC, it is not going to cause any of the psychoactive or “high” effects of smoking or ingesting marijuana, because it is not the same thing.
How Does CBD Oil For Mental Health Work?
CBD oil has an interesting method of action on the human body. Cannabinoid receptors exist naturally in the human body, as humans produce cannabinoid compounds on their own for a variety of purposes. One well-known instance of this is a natural cannabinoid compound that is secreted in breast milk, which is thought to help babies associate eating with the positive health effects and nutrients they receive.
CBD receptors take two forms, called CBD1 and CBD2. CBD1 receptors mostly exist in the brain, though they exist in lesser quantities throughout the body. CBD1 are acted upon by THC and chemically-similar compounds made by the human body naturally. These receptors are most closely tied to motor skills, emotions/mood, pain, cognition, appetite, and memory. CBD2 receptors, on the other hand, are most concentrated in the immune system and are tied to inflammation and pain processes.
Conventional wisdom on CBD was that it acted upon CBD2 receptors, but emerging scientific evidence seems to show that CBD oil causes the body to produce more of its natural cannabinoids, which act on both types of receptors to varying degrees.
While a great many different areas of benefit are claimed for CBD oil and related compounds, one of the most exciting uses for CBD oil is in helping with mental health issues. THC can amplify many mental health problems, but CBD compounds seem to have the opposite effect.
CBD For Anxiety And Related Disorders
CBD oil for mental health is primarily being studied for the treatment of anxiety and related disorders, which include post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, generalized or social anxiety disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorders. For suffers and mental health practitioners, having another weapon in the arsenal of fighting and managing these disorders can be critical to giving patients the ability to control their problems and live a normal life.
One of the most significant benefits of CBD is that it does not have any notable negative side effects in normal use, with the only effect being increased tiredness in some users. This runs in contrast to most of the current treatments for anxiety-based disorders, which are medications like SSRIs and SNRIs that have a long list of negative side effects, so much so that many patients choose to discontinue treatment.
Early research also seems to indicate that there may be valid additional uses for CBD for mental health treatment of patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and possibly other mood disorders as well. However, these need additional study before CBD becomes a popular alternative treatment option. For now, the use of CBD oil for mental health treatment is confined to anxiety disorders.
In conclusion, while the final definitive word on the efficancy of CBD oil for mental health disorder treatment has not yet been delivered, and the evidence for treatment of other problems also continues to be hit-or-miss, there has been promising evidence that it may help with anxiety disorders. It has virtually no noticeable side effects, whereas traditional anxiety disorder medications can have many. It may indeed be a viable treatment for anxiety disorders, and potentially other mental health disorders in the near future.