Is There New Evidence That Shows The Effectiveness of CBD In The Fight Against Mental Health Disorders?
Two recent studies have added to the mounting evidence that CBD may be a safe and effective alternative to prescription drugs. Results of one new study suggest that CBD reduces the urge to consume meth in lab rats. Another shows that CBD can reduce symptoms of depression.
CBD For Addiction
In a research report entitled, “Cannabidiol treatment reduces the motivation to self-administer methamphetamine and methamphetamine-primed relapse in rats,“ published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, co-author Jennifer Cornish of Macquarie University claims that that treatment with 80 mg/kg of CBD reduced the subjects’ motivation to consume methamphetamine.
Cornish writes, “One focus of my laboratory is to understand the neurobiology of methamphetamine addiction so that we can discover effective treatments to reduce this burden on our society. Cannabinoids are showing promise as medications for a number of mental health disorders and symptoms in preclinical models, including drug addiction and relapse for opiates and psychostimulants.”
According to Cornish, data gathered in this study has helped researchers to design further experiments into the effectiveness of CBD as a therapy for addiction and to uncover the mechanisms by which CBD can reduce cravings for addictive drugs.
“By understanding these mechanisms we can inform the discovery of more targeted therapies that would work like CBD, yet with smaller therapeutic doses,” Cornish said.
CBD For Depression
Another study out of Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies and the University of São Paulo titled, “Cannabidiol Induces Rapid and Sustained Antidepressant-Like Effects Through Increased BDNF Signaling and Synaptogenesis in the Prefrontal Cortex,“ published in Psychopharmacology claims that CBD may be a faster-acting antidepressant than traditionally prescribed medications. The report, published in the journal Molecular Neurobiology, showed that CBD induces sustained antidepressant-like effects in mice.
“Depression is a serious mental illness which affects more than 300 million people worldwide, being considered the first cause of disability in many developed and undeveloped countries,” said study author Samia Joca.
Joca writes in the report, “In this scenario, CBD emerges as an interesting compound, since it has shown large-spectrum therapeutic potential in preclinical models and clinical trials. Therefore, we became interested in evaluating CBD effects in different animal models of depression with the aim to better characterize its potential as an antidepressant drug, as well as study its underlying mechanisms. The results could provide new insights into depression neurobiology and treatment, with easy translation to the clinical scenario, since CBD is used in humans for the treatment of neurological disorders, such as epilepsy.”
Researchers used rodents bred to develop depression-like symptoms to study CBD’s effects on the condition. Researchers claimed that CBD helped to reduce immobility during a forced swim test. Traditional antidepressants have been shown to shorten the duration of immobility and lengthen the swim time.
“We showed that CBD increased an animal’s resilience in stress models of depression, thus indicating an antidepressant-like effect,” Joca said. “Moreover, this effect developed rapidly, within one hour, and remained for a week after a single administration, which is not the case for conventional antidepressants.”
In the study, CBD’s effects were associated with increased release of a neurotransmitter often associated with depression development.
“Since CBD’s effect is blocked when BDNF signaling is blocked in the brain, our results suggest that CBD promotes fast neurochemical and neuroplastic effects in limbic brain regions, which might favor stress coping strategies and resilience to depression development,” said Joca.
In a previous study published in Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry entitled, “Antidepressant-like effect induced by Cannabidiol is dependent on brain serotonin levels,“ Joca and colleagues found that the antidepressant-like effect induced by CBD were dependent on levels of serotonin. Because CBD has been associated with increased levels of the hormone, researchers believe it could enhance the effectiveness of traditional antidepressant medications.
“We showed that small doses of CBD allowed the effect of small doses of serotonergic antidepressants, such as fluoxetine, to be effective. This indicates that co-administering CBD with serotonergic antidepressants might contribute to the use of smaller doses of the latter, thus decreasing their side effects, without compromising the antidepressant effect. This is a strategy to be further explored in other studies and in the clinical setting,” Joca writes.
Joca also points out that the study does not mean that marijuana has antidepressant effects. In fact, writes Joca, “the main [compound] responsible for the psychostimulant effects induced by the plant is THC. Therefore, saying that CBD induces antidepressant effects is not the same as saying that marijuana is an antidepressant. Although there has been evidence for that as well, one should keep in mind that marijuana also contains many other different cannabinoids, such as THC, that can actually represent risks for health.”
These and other studies show the promise that CBD holds as an effective alternative to traditional prescription medications for a wide variety of brain-related disorders.