I. CBD Oil for Depression Treatment

Cannabidiol is thought to restore balance to neurotransmitters in the body that help maintain homeostasis or equilibrium between the cells, and evidence is mounting that it’s effective in alleviating anxiety and chronic pain. Antidepressants increase beneficial neurotransmitters in the brain, and it’s believed that CBD mimics this effect.

Here are some promising studies:

  • In a 2020 review of the effect of cannabis on psychiatric disorders, researchers examined case studies and clinical trials on its use in the treatment of depression and anxiety. They concluded that the terpenes and phytocannabinoids in CBD seem to have a positive effect on depression.
  • A 2019 study concluded that CBD oil is an effective treatment for neurofibromatosis, a disease that causes musculoskeletal pain and headaches. There was also a reported decrease in depression and anxiety among those who received the treatment.
  • It was confirmed that cannabidiol has a “favorable safety profile” in one 2017 survey of published studies. Researchers found that the side effects of CBD were not as severe as those caused by some other medications used to treat epilepsy and psychotic disorders.
  • In one 2011 study, researchers conducted a controlled randomized trial of subjects who used cannabis and its derivatives to control pain from fibromyalgia. They reported a statistically significant increase in feelings of well-being and relaxation in those who participated in the study.

Besides cannabinoids, CBD contains substances called flavonoids and terpenes that are believed to contribute to good health. However, the body of knowledge on the medicinal use of cannabis and extracts such as CBD oil is incomplete. More studies are needed to corroborate the promising findings of previous researchers.

Here are some ideas for future research:

  • Completing more trial studies on the use of CBD to treat depression and anxiety
  • Comparing the effectiveness of delivery methods
  • Determining optimal dosage levels
  • Measuring the results of using CBD with other cannabinoids
  • Recording the effects of CBD use on hormones

II. CBD Oil Side Effects & Drug Interactions

A small dosage is unlikely to cause significant side effects, but absorption may be greater when cannabidiol is taken with a meal high in fat. The side effects of taking CBD oil are mild, and not everyone will experience them. Common symptoms some users have reported are:

  • Dry mouth
  • Light-headedness
  • Drowsiness
  • Fatigue
  • Low blood pressure
  • Diarrhea

Pregnant women and nursing mothers should not take CBD oil because there’s not enough evidence about its effect on infants.  Do not consume alcohol when taking CBD because it can cause extreme drowsiness. Cannabidiol should also not be used by those who are taking certain medications that are metabolized by the liver because it may interfere with the concentration of these drugs in the body.

Here are some medications that are not compatible with CBD oil:

  • Warfarin
  • Clobazam
  • Valproate
  • Brivaracetam
  • Chlorzoxazone

Some herbs and supplements can also intensify the effects of cannabidiol, so avoid the following:

  • California poppy
  • Kava
  • L-tryptophan
  • Melatonin
  • St. John’s Wort

The FDA recognizes the “potential therapeutic opportunities” for the use of CBD, but it hasn’t approved it for the treatment of any disease except epilepsy. The only FDA-sanctioned product that contains cannabidiol is Epidiolex, a purified form of CBD used to treat seizures. Other CBD products aren’t regulated at this time, and the dosage and quality can vary widely, so it’s important to carefully check out the source.

There are no official guidelines concerning quality and the presence of contaminants in CBD oil, so make sure that the company you buy from uses independent third-party testing. This will provide reassurance that the oil doesn’t have impurities or traces of solvents used to extract the CBD.

CBD use is illegal in some states and available with restrictions in several others. Find out before you buy if the provider will ship to your area and if the product is legal in your state. Also, be aware that the minuscule amount of THC in some CBD oils may register on a drug test for marijuana.

A recent study using mice suggests that extremely high levels of CBD can cause negative effects on metabolic pathways in the body. As with any medicine or supplement, more is not necessarily better. The safest way to use CBD oil is to consult with your doctor first and begin with the smallest dosage that produces a positive effect.

IV. How to Use CBD for Depression

There have been few reported negative effects from taking CBD oil daily. It’s recommended that each person begin with a low dosage and wait to see if it helps their depression before increasing the amount taken.

Cannabidiol can be taken orally or inhaled, and it can also be used topically as a cream or lotion. CBD preparations are sold in several forms:

  • Gummies: Chewable and flavored; similar to children’s vitamins
  • Oils/Tinctures: Can be taken alone or added to liquids
  • Sprays: Applied under the tongue for faster absorption
  • Lotions/Creams: Rubbed on targeted areas of the body to relieve pain
  • Vape liquid: Inhaled as steam through a vape pen

When purchasing a CBD product, make sure it’s the real thing. Check the reviews from other buyers and research the company’s reputation. Independent testing of the product by an outside source is one indication that a seller may be trustworthy. It’s essential to make sure that cannabidiol for vape pens does not contain solvents since they can damage the lungs and increase the risk of asthma and cancer.

The Bottom Line

Here are some main take-away points when considering CBD for depression.

  • Using CBD oil doesn’t produce feelings of euphoria because the level of THC is below 0.3%.
  • Anecdotal evidence points to it as an effective remedy for depression.
  • There are many promising studies that suggest cannabidiol is useful in the treatment of depression.
  • Although CBD is used to treat disorders such as neuropathy, spasticity, and depression, none of these uses is FDA approved.
  • The only product approved by the FDA is Epidiolex, a seizure medication.
  • The sale of CBD products is illegal or restricted in some states, so make sure it’s legal in your state before ordering.
  • It’s important to carefully research before you buy cannabidiol to make sure you’re getting a high-quality product.
  • Check with your doctor for guidance before taking CBD in any form.

V. Additional Resources