CBD has always been popular, even in historical times, not only for its potential health benefits but also for the few side effects it has on users. Recent advancements in technology have allowed health researchers to explore how CBD could be used to improve the health and wellbeing of human beings. Even though conclusive evidence is yet to be settled upon, initial results suggest that CBD could become a major contribution to healthy living.
One of the many potential health benefits of CBD is that it could be helpful in the treatment of mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. The secret lies in the way that CBD interacts with serotonin receptors in the brain, which are vital for managing anxiety and depression. In this article, we’ll answer the question Does CBD affect serotonin levels? in order to take a close look at what role it could one day play in managing anxiety, depression, and similar disorders.
The Link Between Serotonin and Mental Health Serotonin is a chemical made from tryptophan that sends signals between nerve cells. It is found throughout the central nervous system, blood platelets, and even the digestive system. Some of the functions of serotonin in the body include healing wounds, maintaining bone health, stimulating nausea, and controlling bowel functions. The chemical also helps in maintaining the emotional and mental wellbeing of individuals. Individuals with normal serotonin levels have greater potential to be more emotionally stable, more focused, calmer, and happier. Studies have shown that there are links between low serotonin levels and mental health problems. Serotonin deficiency in the brain has been linked to insomnia, anxiety, and depression. In order to treat serotonin deficiency and increase its levels, medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are usually prescribed for patients.
There are also natural ways of increasing serotonin levels. These include the following:
- Exposure to sunshine and light therapy
- Regular exercise
- A healthy diet
Since there are also risks of developing sexual dysfunction, serotonin syndrome, and addiction from using pharmaceutical medications, health researchers have been looking at how CBD could be used to improve mental health without these harmful side effects.
How Does CBD Affect Serotonin and Mental Health?
Anxiety and depression are commonly co-occurring mental health problems. Patients diagnosed with one are likely to have the other as well. It is believed that CBD could be effective in the treatment of both. While CBD will not necessarily cure these two mental health problems, it could be helpful in improving the symptoms in patients suffering from anxiety and depression.
Does CBD affect serotonin levels? The answer is no. CBD does not increase the levels of serotonin in patients with mood disorders. CBD only affects how the chemical receptors found in the brain respond to the serotonin produced in the body. One hypothesis under investigation is that the cannabinoid interacts with these receptors to produce anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects on patients.
The human body already produces its own cannabinoids known as endocannabinoids. The endocannabinoids, produced in the endocannabinoid system (ECS), regulate bodily functions such as pain sensation, appetite, sleep, and mood by binding to receptors. By binding and activating receptors such as the 5-HT1A serotonin receptors, these endocannabinoids stimulate the production of serotonin which reduces stress levels and improves an individual’s mood.
According to research, the potential anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects of CBD lie in mimicking the effects serotonin has on the brain. It does this by binding with 5-HT1A serotonin receptors in the body and activating them.
Furthermore, research has revealed that CBD interacts with CB1 receptors in the brain to increase the levels of anandamide . Anandamides regulate chemicals such as serotonin in the brain and stimulate them to send messages to the nerve cells as a way of keeping the body balanced.
Depression has also been shown to be connected to inflammation and structural changes to the brain, which ultimately results in a chemical imbalance. Inflammation and structural changes can be caused by chronic stress, past trauma, physical illnesses, and pain. Research is being conducted to determine if CBD could produce therapeutic effects by interacting with and binding to TRPV1 receptors, which are known to regulate body temperature and mediate inflammation and pain perception. By acting on the TRPV1 receptors, CBD could be helpful in reducing the chemical balance in the brain and therefore help in managing depression. It is important to note, however, that the FDA has not yet approved CBD as a treatment for anxiety or depression.
The potential for CBD products to significantly improve the symptoms of anxiety and depression is welcomed by many. Patients diagnosed with such mental health problems look to CBD as a path to improve their quality of life. But research is still ongoing to determine how CBD could be fully utilized for the benefit of mental health patients.
Can I Use CBD for Anxiety and Depression?
While CBD has not been officially approved as a treatment for these conditions by the FDA, that doesn’t stop individuals from giving it a try. Initial studies prove promising, but the debate is still out on how CBD affects serotonin levels and the related mood disorders. If you are interested in giving CBD a try for any reasons, here is some important information to keep in mind. There are several ways of using CBD products. You can place drops under your tongue, add CBD oil to food, swallow CBD capsules, inhale it through vaping or smoking devices, and even apply it topically.
Topical application of CBD will only affect the targeted area, and the bioavailability is significantly hampered through this method. For this reason, it is likely to be ineffective on serotonin-related mood disorders. If CDB is taken orally, it first has to go through the digestive system. The bioavailability of CBD in the bloodstream gets reduced as the digestive enzymes break it down. Users will, therefore, need larger dosages to feel the effects. Depending on an individual’s rate of metabolism, it will also take time for the effects to be felt.
Sublingual consumption of CBD as tinctures is probably the most effective way to get it to affect your entire body, brain included. This is because the CBD gets absorbed immediately into the bloodstream through the tissues under the tongue. Users will feel the effects almost immediately after taking CBD. The bioavailability is also higher than in the other methods of consumption. Since research on the potential medical benefits of CBD is still ongoing, there is not much regulation surrounding the use of CBD for medical purposes. As such, proper CBD dosages for various conditions have not been determined and developed. If you are going to use CBD in hopes of managing serotonin-related mood disorders, you should work closely with your doctor to determine proper dosage and a plan of action
Are There Any Side Effects of Using CBD for Mood Disorders?
At the moment, there are very few known side effects of using CBD. In 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the compound generally safe and well-tolerated even in high doses. However, some test patients reported experiencing diarrhea, fatigue, and a change in appetite and weight. These are short-term effects that disappear as soon as CBD clears off the system. Research is still ongoing to determine whether CBD has any long-term and far-reaching side effects on users.
CBD has also been shown to interact with certain medications, especially antidepressants. That is why it is important for mental health patients to consult with their doctors before starting on CBD dosage. It is not recommended for pregnant women and children below the age of two years to use CBD products. If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, you should let your doctor know before starting on CBD.
Buying CBD for Anxiety and Depression
It is advisable to go for hemp-derived CBD when looking to manage the symptoms associated with anxiety, depression, or similar serotonin-related mood disorders. Marijuana-derived CBD may contain high levels of THC that will produce undesirable psychoactive effects on users.
Hemp-derived CBD has been legalized in several states and is widely available. You should only purchase CBD products from reputable manufacturers and vendors who sell trustworthy and reliable products. Reputable manufacturers and vendors usually conduct third-party lab testing for their products. At whiteleafcbd.com, we will actually provide you with these lab results directly on the product packaging. That way, you know that your specific product came from a batch that was held to the highest standards.
Research on how effectively CBD could be used in the treatment of mental health problems such as anxiety and depression is not yet conclusive. You should therefore never buy CBD products as a replacement for your antidepressant prescription. Abruptly stopping could also result in uncomfortable, and sometimes dangerous, withdrawal symptoms. At the very least, talk to your doctor first. They will be able to advise you on how you can incorporate CBD as part of your treatment plan. Until conclusive research is released and proper regulations developed, CBD should not be your first-line treatment for mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.