According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, mental health is a combination of your "emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing". It includes how you think about the world, figure things out, and relate to the world.
It also involves how you manage life events and stressors. Mental health is first a learned behavior. But regardless of what you learned as a child, you can choose as an adult to make changes to enhance your wellbeing.
Things like mindfulness and other mental health techniques can improve how you feel. But physical factors can also influence brain health and, therefore, mental health. That's why improving your diet, taking supplements and exercising may increase mental wellbeing.
Could CBD oil be yet another useful tool in your cabinet?
Mental Health and Balance
Maintaining mental health comes down to maintaining balance (a.k.a. homeostasis). For example, a little stress is a good motivator. A lot of stress may cause you to shut down emotionally.
Being balanced doesn't mean you don't feel sad or fearful when the situation calls for it. Homeostasis just means that you don't stay at one extreme when it's time to return to baseline (homeostasis).
CBD oil may support your body and mind's natural desire to stay balanced.
The Difference Between Mental Health & Mental Illness`
Mental illness occurs when a person stays on one or the other end of the spectrum for disproportionate amounts of time. Mental illness can damage relationships. It may cause financial hardship and even be detrimental to health.
Psychiatric disorders often result from physical or emotional trauma. It may come in many forms. But it often damages the nervous system. And it impacts the types of hormones and neurotransmitters the body produces and how fast it clears (reuptakes) them from the body.
For example, when you get a compliment from a friend, you may experience a dopamine release. You feel good for a little while. Then the body reuptakes that dopamine and you return to homeostasis.
But what if your body doesn't release dopamine normally or reuptakes too quickly? You may stay in a state of anxiety or depression when others would enjoy themselves. On the other hand, that dopamine release could be too great or stay in the system too long. This can cause psychiatric disorders such as mania.
Many mental health medications alleviate symptoms by adjusting hormone reuptake rates. And there are many other hormones and neurotransmitters at play in mental illness.
CBD and Mental Health
What is CBD? CBD is the common name for cannabidiol, one of many cannabinoids extracted from a cannabis plant. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) another cannabinoid found in cannabis, CBD cannot get you high. But it may have other useful effects on the body and mind.
CBD does not treat or cure mental illness. But a growing number of preclinical studies show that it may support the body and mind's desired to stay in balance. It does this by interacting with the ECS.
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS)
The ECS is a complex network of cells. It includes cannabinoid receptors, as well as neurotransmitters, called endocannabinoids. Your body produces these naturally whether you take CBD or not.
The role of endocannabinoids is to maintain balance in the body. Similar to dopamine, endocannabinoids attach to special receptors. These are found on cells called CB1 and CB2 receptors. And when they're no longer needed, the body reuptakes them.
Those experiencing a lack of mental homeostasis may not be producing sufficient endocannabinoids. Or they reuptake them too quickly.
CBD is biologically similar to the endocannabinoids your body produces. It may, therefore, slow this reuptake of your own endocannabinoids, allowing them to maintain balance in the body. An increasing number of well-conducted studies are showing how this may support mental health.
A review of 49 such studies on CBD in both humans and animals found that CBD's interactions with your ECS may have several impacts on the body as an:
- Antiemetic (anti-nausea)
- Analgesic (pain reducer)
- Antioxidant, which supports overall cellular health
Let's take a quick look at some specific mental illness challenges. Early studies indicate CBD's balancing impact may help with alleviating symptoms.
- ADHD - A randomized, placebo study found a "positive impact" on symptoms
- Anxiety - Scientists found a reduction in self-reported anxiety symptoms. In another controlled, double-blind study, researchers engaged participants in a stressful event. And they took biometrics to measure anxiety levels. People experiencing anxiety often shake, sweat, and experience an elevated heart rate. These are all measurable.
- Depression - A mouse study showed that those receiving CBD were more active and adventurous.
- Sleep - Participants with anxiety-induced sleep challenges reported better sleep and anxiety reduction in a small study.
- PTSD - Initial positive results in preclinical studies have led to clinical studies that are currently underway.
- Bipolar & Mania - Some studies on marijuana use show adverse effects. But currently, scientists are conducting a clinical trial for CBD + an FDA-approved antidepressant.
- Autism (ASD) - A small self-reporting study found a 30% improvement in at least one ASD category with varying levels of improvement in the others measured.
There are some promising early findings here. But please remember that stopping a psychiatric medication abruptly is dangerous. You should speak with your doctor if you're on medication or believe you may have a mental illness before beginning a CBD routine. However, many of us are looking for a better way to maintain mental health balance and CBD may help. So it's time to explore the benefits of CBD and work to determine what dosage works for you.