CBD is short for cannabidiol. It is one of the 97-147 compounds found in the cannabis or hemp plant – these being two names for the same species. CBD has been around for a long time among human societies, though until 1940, nobody knew CBD by name. It has been touted as an aid to physical, mental and psychological health. More and more research papers are being published yearly with detailed studies of the effects of CBD on humans and animals. New anecdotal evidence is coming out on a regular basis about how CBD has changed people’s lives for the better. Depression is one of the mental health areas that is receiving a lot of attention lately, especially in regard to CBD.

Depression

Depression affects a large range of people, particularly in economically developed countries. It is thought to be a growing problem. The percentage of people affected by depression at one point in their lives varies from 7% in Japan to up to 21% in some European countries. Although depression can refer to a mood, it is most commonly used as shorthand for Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), a recognised psychological condition. Most treatments involve both counselling and medication.

There is debate as to how effective the available medications are – it is thought that medications work well only in extremely severe cases. Up to 7% of adults with severe depression can die by suicide, so this condition poses a significant threat to public health physically as well as mentally.

There are a number of attributes and causes that are thought to affect the onset of depression in certain population groups. Genetics and family history of depression can be a factor, as well as major life changes or bereavement. Depression can also be brought on by other health problems, both chronic and acute, and by drug or alcohol abuse. Seasonal depression also occurs in winter in some people, due to the change in daylight hours at this time of year, while temporary depression can also be brought on by hormonal changes during and after pregnancy.

Depression generally leads to a loss of pleasure in activities normally enjoyed and a low mood for at least two weeks. A preoccupation to mull over thoughts of worthlessness, guilt, and hopelessness is often observed. Delusions and hallucinations are other common signs, as are a loss of appetite or overeating, insomnia and hypersomnia (the opposite of insomnia – oversleeping). The severity of symptoms vary depending on the person suffering from depression, and some sufferers may only experience a limited number of them.

What Is CBD?

CBD is a cannabinoid – part of a family of compounds that are produced mostly by cannabis plants. Some occur in black truffles and in echinacea – another herbal medicine, but CBD comes exclusively from Cannabis sativa – hemp. Stories have been coming out from across the world about how people are using CBD as a holistic treatment for their physical and mental ailments.

CBD was extracted in 1940 Indian hashish and Mexican marijuana by two American chemists. 23 years later, the structure of CBD was obtained through Nuclear Magnetic Resonance – using an enormous electromagnet weighing many tonnes to define the exact composition of CBD. This meant that the medical uses of CBD could then be predicted, and experiments could begin. It has been found since that CBD can help treat pain in Multiple Sclerosis. Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s diseases have all shown some response to CBD. Anxiety, pain, psychosis, and multiple other ailments have expressed some potential to be responsive to CBD treatment.

Does It Work?

The effects of CBD oil on depression are as yet unclear in the laboratory setting. A limited number of studies have suggested that cannabidiol can cause the release of serotonin and dopamine. These two neurotransmitters or ‘messenger chemicals’ are responsible for many of the positive feelings a healthy human feels regularly. CBD has, however, demonstrated a lot of potential against anxiety, and has been publicized as such in a recent report by the World Health Organisation in 2017. Anxiety is closely related to depression in many of its signs and symptoms. As more research is produced, CBD looks like a promising potential aid in combating depression. As always, treatment should be preceded by the advice of a medical professional.

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