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Potential Breakthroughs Reported as Researchers Explore CBD’s Mental Health Benefits

One of the most exciting things about CBD is the fact that we still have so much to learn about it. We know that CBD interacts with the brain and central nervous system, but we have a long way to go before we fully understand what those interactions can do and what potential benefits CBD may have for mental health.

What Are CBD’s Known Mental Health Benefits?

Early research into the mental health benefits of CBD has produced two breakthroughs.

  • The CBD-based medication Epidiolex received FDA approval in 2018 for the treatment of seizures associated with Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.
  • The CBD-based gel Zygel treats behavioral symptoms associated with Fragile X syndrome and is in the final stage of clinical trials at the time of writing. If the trials are successful, the drug appears to be on track for FDA approval in 2021.

As exciting as these recent breakthroughs are, the even more thrilling thing is that we have most likely barely scratched the surface in terms of discovering all of the different things that CBD can do. Right now, researchers are exploring how CBD may interact with a wide variety of human conditions, and many of the results – while extremely preliminary in nature – are unbelievably exciting for those whose conditions are poorly managed by prescription medications.

CBD Dosages Used in Research Studies Are Often High

If you’re curious about the benefits that CBD could potentially hold for you, one important thing to remember is that clinical studies of CBD often use extremely high dosages. You may, therefore, need to use a high-potency CBD oil if you hope to duplicate the results that you see in studies. Don’t try to get by with the little CBD squeeze bottles that you see at your local vape shops and convenience stores. If you’re not using enough CBD to make a difference, there’s no reason to bother.

Why should you bother? It’s worth taking the time to research the potential benefits that CBD may hold for you because there is an enormous mountain of anecdotal evidence confirming that CBD users are very happy with the results they’re seeing. In a 2018 survey of more than 2,400 CBD users, about 62 percent of those who responded said that they used CBD to treat specific medical conditions. Of those, more than 65 percent reported that they felt CBD treated their conditions either “very well” or “moderately well” on its own. A further 30 percent reported that they felt CBD treated their conditions well in combination with conventional medications.

Some of the most common conditions for which the survey’s respondents reported using CBD were anxiety, insomnia, depression and PTSD.

With that out of the way, let’s examine some of the results that scientists have seen when using CBD for mental health conditions.

CBD for Anxiety and Panic

The anxiolytic effect of CBD has been well documented across multiple studies, but those studies have generally been small in scale or have used animal subjects. It’s going to take more research to determine what specific conditions CBD can potentially alleviate and how best to use it for those conditions.

In 2019, Frontiers in Psychology published a study in which 37 Japanese teenagers suffering from Social Anxiety Disorder were given CBD (300 mg) or a placebo daily for four weeks. At the conclusion of the study, the CBD group had lower scores on the Leibowitz Social Anxiety Scale.

In 2011, Neuropsychopharmacology published a study on CBD and Social Anxiety Disorder using a combination of healthy volunteers and diagnosed SAD patients. The study divided the subjects evenly into CBD (600 mg) and placebo groups. After taking CBD or a placebo, the subjects were asked to complete a simulated public speaking test. Compared to the subjects who were given a placebo, the CBD group had significantly lower anxiety scores when taking the test.

CBD for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

In 2019, the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine published a study in which 11 PTSD patients were given varying doses of CBD in addition to their normal psychiatric treatments over a period of eight weeks. During the study, the subjects were periodically assessed using a questionnaire based on the PCL-5 criteria for PTSD symptoms. The patients’ test scores decreased by an average of 28 percent.

At the time of writing, researchers from the University of Texas at Austin are recruiting 120 subjects for a much larger study on CBD and PTSD.

CBD for Insomnia

In 2019, the Permanente Journal published a study on the potential benefits of CBD (25-175 mg depending on the individual patient’s needs) for insomnia with anxiety. In all, 72 people participated for the full duration of the study. Of those, anxiety scores were reduced for 79.2 percent of the participants, and sleep scores were improved for 66.7 percent. Though it produced a promising result, it’s important to note that this study was not placebo controlled.

CBD for Depression

To date, there have been no high-quality studies of CBD for depression using human subjects. However, the journal CNS and Neurological Disorders – Drug Targets published a review of existing animal studies showing that CBD might have an antidepressant effect. Using tests such as the Vogel conflict test, the elevated plus maze and the forced swimming test, CBD appears to alleviate depression in animal models. It’s likely that clinical trials with human subjects are in progress.

CBD for Alzheimer’s Disease

To date, there have been no human studies on the potential benefits of CBD in treating Alzheimer’s disease. However, CBD has been explored as a possible treatment option in multiple animal studies, summarized in a review published in Frontiers in Pharmacology in 2017. In cell cultures, studies have shown CBD to reduce inflammation, neurotoxicity and oxidative stress in brain cells. In animal models, CBD has been shown to have the same benefits while also reducing cognitive impairment. The researchers who compiled the review concluded that CBD merits further study as a potential novel treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.

Ask Your Doctor Before Trying CBD

This article is informational in nature and is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease. If you have a medical condition or are taking any prescription medications, talk to your doctor before trying CBD.

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