Depression: it’s quite different from just feeling “sad”. Instead, it’s a mind-numbing, debilitating condition that makes life feel not worth living. But anti-depressant medications have horrible side-effects. For some, they’re so bad that they’d rather just live with the depression. Could CBD for depression be the answer?
If depression is enough to make it difficult to face each day, anti-depressants, rather than providing relief, could make you feel even worse. Digestive problems, skin-rashes, weight gain, heart arrhythmia, loss of sex-drive, and erectile dysfunction are just some of the common side-effects that those using anti-depressants commonly report.
Others speak of feeling “numb” or “weird”, and doctors often recommend a few days off work after starting a course of anti-depressants, just to allow you time to get used to them. Worst of all, anti-depressants are hardly the “happy pills” that the uninitiated may think they are. They take weeks or even months to work if they work at all.
In 2014, a research paper was published in the journal CNS & Neurological Disorders Drug Targets. It suggested that Cannabidiol (CBD) reduced the symptoms of anxiety and depression in rats. We’re not sure how they got their rats depressed (apparently, surgery was involved), but the scientists clearly felt that they’d make a breakthrough.
Then in 2015, came the next breakthrough. The Journal Neuropharmacology found that CBD didn’t just have anti-depressant effects, it also acted very fast indeed, but again, the study was conducted on rats. Apparently, they’re supposed to be genetically very close to human beings, which is why they’re so widely used in medical trials.
Further studies have confirmed this finding, but “officially” we still don’t have a CBD-based medication for depression. Of course, finding a “cure” in a natural plant isn’t likely to be profitable, so we can assume that funding hasn’t been robust enough for extensive clinical trials.
Unfortunately, we have little to go on but tantalizing snippets. What we don’t have is final facts and figures. What percentage of people could CBD help? We honestly don’t know, but if you’re thinking of experimenting with a herbal medicine for depression, CBD holds promise. Do remember that although it is extracted from the cannabis plant, CBD is not psychoactive and is legal in many countries around the world.
The idea of using cannabis for depression is not new. Clay tablets dating back to 22nd centuray BC are believed to refer to the use of cannabis for depression. What strain and cannabinoid profile was used remains unclear, but it is known that the older strains of cannabis were generally richer in CBD than varieties other than industrial hemp. An 1843 reference remarked that cannabis brought about “glee and cheerfulness”: certainly something that is alien to those suffering from depression.
CBD for depression is not a proven remedy, but there are certainly indications that it will be once scientific trials have allowed it to be assessed according to the principles of evidence-based medicine.