Holistic, natural wellness is a focus for many in today’s world. People want to feel great and lead a better quality of life with products that don’t carry a host of unwanted or harmful side effects. Take, for example, cannabidiol (CBD). From sleep to stress and even physical recovery, people have been using this hemp derivative as a vehicle for change in their overall health and wellness.
But when it comes to more serious disorders like depression, is CBD the right choice? Will it offer relief from symptoms of depression in a way that makes a real impact? More importantly, does CBD increase serotonin levels?
In this article, we'll dive into CBD's potential impact on serotonin levels and depression, the considerations you should have and the potential side effects, and best practices for using CBD for mental health benefits.
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What Is CBD And How It Works?
CBD is a hemp-derived, non-psychoactive compound that belongs to a broader group of chemicals known as cannabinoids. It interacts with receptors in our body's endocannabinoid system (ECS), which helps regulate mood, appetite, sleep, and pain sensation.
Taking CBD is believed to offer a wide range of benefits in these areas, especially when our body is not regulating them properly.
CBD products come in various forms such as tinctures, oils, capsules, edibles, and topical creams. Different formats can impact your experience, the time it takes for CBD to take effect, and beyond. Make sure to consider this when you’re shopping around for your first CBD product!
Potential Benefits Of CBD
CBD is considered a highly-valuable compound for many dealing with everyday ailments or those simply lacking a sense of quality overall health in their lives.
Why? While more research needs to be done to understand the full impact of CBD on the body, early research suggests that CBD can be useful for numerous health issues, including:1
- Feelings of discomfort
- General well-being
Additionally, we’ve seen that CBD can have specific medical applications. Take, for example, the FDA-approved drug Epidiolex, which helps those ages one and up manage seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, Dravet syndrome, and tuberous sclerosis complex.
Overall, CBD holds a great deal of promise in helping you experience relief in mood, discomfort, and beyond.
Potential Side Effects Of CBD
CBD is generally considered safe and well-tolerated. Unlike some prescription medications, the side effects are tolerable, and the risk of overdose is slim to none. Still, some individuals may experience mild side effects that are worth noting. Side effects associated with CBD include:
- Appetite changes
- Dry mouth
If you notice any side effects, consider lowering your dosage and speaking with your doctor to learn more about whether or not CBD is right for you.
The Link Between Mood And Serotonin Levels
Serotonin, like cannabinoids (specifically naturally-produced endocannabinoids), is responsible for regulating a wide range of systems and activities. Found in the brain, spinal cord, and intestines, serotonin regulates behavior, body temperature, digestion, and more.
Low levels of serotonin are often linked to anxiety and depression, which is why many antidepressant medications aim to increase serotonin levels in the brain. There’s also a link between gut health and brain health, whereby poor health in one area of the body can affect the other. Serotonin is crucial to mood stabilization, but can CBD actually boost this neurotransmitter?
How CBD Affects Serotonin Levels
CBD may have a positive impact on serotonin levels, which could prove valuable for those dealing with mild to moderate depression or anxiety. One study revealed that the chronic administration (more than seven days) of CBD induced antidepressant-like effects, increasing serotonin and noradrenaline levels in the hippocampus.2
Of course, more research needs to be done to understand the mechanics behind CBD’s interaction with the body (and serotonin production), and whether or not it can provide real, measurable results in those with depression.
But whether it’s an increased sense of ease or a minor improvement in mood, many report experiencing positive effects after incorporating CBD into their daily wellness routine.
Shop our extensive collection of premium CBD products to begin working towards a greater sense of peace and relaxation in your day-to-day!
Comparison Between CBD And Traditional Antidepressants
Traditional antidepressants are designed to work by altering neurotransmitter levels (or extending neurotransmitter activity) in the brain to treat depression and anxiety. Most effective for moderate to severe depression, there are several types to choose from.
Antidepressants can be helpful in addition to talk therapy, but some may not like antidepressants due to withdrawal symptoms, major side effects, or changes in efficacy over time.
CBD, on the other hand, is a natural substance that may support a better mood. It could accomplish this by acting on similar receptors that boost neurotransmitters as well as regulating processes in the body that could be affecting your mood. It has fewer severe side effects and no known withdrawal symptoms.
With all this in mind, it’s vital that you know CBD is not a replacement for traditional antidepressants, even if you don’t like the side effects that accompany antidepressants. Instead, it may be a useful tool alongside other activities like outdoor exercise and journaling that could be useful in diminishing depression symptoms.
Consult your doctor before incorporating CBD into your treatment plan.
Best Way To Take CBD For Mental Health Benefits?
The best way to take CBD for mental health benefits depends on your personal needs and preferences. Generally speaking, the most common way to take CBD for mental health benefits is through CBD oil, tinctures, or capsules.
CBD Oil is the most popular form of CBD, as it is easy to take and can be added to food or beverages. It can also be taken sublingually (under the tongue) for faster absorption.
Tinctures are also an easy way to take CBD, as they come in pre-measured doses and can be added to food or beverages.
Capsules are also a convenient way to take CBD, as they provide an exact dose and can be taken with or without food.
When it comes to dosage, it's best to start with a low dose and gradually increase it as needed while being mindful of any potential side effects along the way. If you find that the above products aren’t right for you, you can always try alternatives like edibles or dry CBD flower.
Risks And Side Effects Of Using CBD For Depression
Depression is a complex mental health disorder with symptoms that can range from mild to severe. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating depression, and this especially applies to CBD. Using CBD as a means to cure depression (especially if it’s your only resource), carries tremendous risk. Here are some of the major considerations to keep in mind as you evaluate using CBD for your mood.
- Low Serotonin May Not Be the Issue. Chemical imbalances in the brain are often believed to be the primary cause of depression. The truth? We don’t fully understand what causes depression, and there are multiple likely causes. Even though CBD may boost serotonin, this may not be specific to your depression. SSRIs work for some, but not for others. Some may even have treatment-resistant depression that requires further intervention and alternative treatments.
- Your Depression Likely Requires Treatment. CBD is not and should not be a substitute for mental health treatment. Your depression likely requires treatment in the form of talk therapy (or other healing modalities), medication, or both. Do not depend solely on CBD to treat symptoms of depression, especially if you’re unsure about your symptoms and have not yet received a formal diagnosis.
- There Are Many Forms of Depression. Most people have a vision in their mind of what depression is. Some may think it’s easily curable with exercise and better health habits. Others may think of it as a disorder wherein you’re physically incapable out of bed. There are actually multiple types of depression. From dysthymia (low-grade, chronic depression that can last several years) to seasonal affective disorder to major depression, how you’re affected impacts how you’re treated.
- CBD Could Negatively React With Other Medications or Supplements: CBD is metabolized by the liver. When taken with other medications that are metabolized this way (those that have the “grapefruit warning”), it can impact how much medication is in the body at the time. Another consideration is serotonin syndrome3. Taking too many supplements that boost serotonin levels can cause symptoms like high fever, seizures, and agitation and confusion.
Discuss CBD with your doctor to understand whether or not CBD is a viable addition to your treatment plan or one that might pose a risk to your mental and physical health instead.
Try CBD Now To See If It Helps You Feel Better And Increase Your Serotonin Levels!
CBD has gained attention for its potential to naturally improve mood and increase serotonin levels. If you're seeking a natural way to enhance mental health, CBD might be worth trying.
But who do you turn to when you need high-quality CBD to boost your health and wellness safely? Start here with FOCL! Our premium CBD products are backed by GMP compliance and third-party testing so you know you’re getting exactly what we advertise, and all of our products are made from non-GMO hemp so that you’re not absorbing pesticides, herbicides, and other contaminants.
You may also want to check out FOCL’s latest blogs!
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How many milligrams of CBD to relax?
The recommended dosage of CBD for relaxation is generally between 10-20mg per day, but it varies based on factors such as body weight, the severity of your anxiety, and product type. Start with the amount listed on your chosen product then gradually increase the dose until you experience the desired effects.
How does CBD affect serotonin?
CBD is a cannabinoid believed to affect mood. By acting on endocannabinoid receptors in the body, it may cause it to produce more serotonin as a result. However, more research is needed to draw any definitive conclusions.
Is CBD addictive?
No, CBD is not considered addictive and does not have psychoactive properties.
CBD may even have anti-addictive effects that can reduce cravings for substances like nicotine.
How long does CBD relax you for?
CBD's relaxing effects can vary between individuals and may last for up to several hours. The time it takes to feel CBD’s effects depends on body chemistry as well as dose and intake method.
Do you have to take CBD every day for anxiety?
Using CBD to reduce anxiety isn't a simple one-size-fits-all solution. It depends on several factors, such as the type of anxiety you're experiencing and the CBD product you're using. For chronic anxiety, daily use may be necessary, while situational anxiety may only require occasional use. Consult with a doctor to ensure you're taking the correct dosage for your needs or if it’s right for you.
Does CBD improve mental health?
CBD has potential mental health benefits, like reducing anxiety, improving mood, and alleviating depression symptoms. Still, it should not be used as an alternative to traditional mental health treatment.
Is CBD legal?
CBD is legal in many countries, including the US, where it's classified as a dietary supplement. However, legal status varies between countries. In the US, hemp-derived CBD with no more than 0.3% THC is federally legal. Check local laws for compliance as these may be updated over time, and check the CBD products you wish to purchase to make sure they’re compliant with these laws.
Rapin, L., Gamaoun, R., El Hage, C., Arboleda, M. F., & Prosk, E. (2021, June 23). Cannabidiol use and effectiveness: Real-world evidence from a Canadian Medical Cannabis Clinic. Journal of cannabis research. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8223341/
Author links open overlay panelMelkamu Alemu Abame a b, a, b, c, AbstractCannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychotomimetic compound derived from Cannabis sativa. Preclinical and clinical studies have shown therapeutic potential of CBD in a variety of disorders. Despite several research efforts on CBD, Bekhbat, M., Diniz, C. R. A. F., Sales, A. J., El-Alfy, A. T., Linge, R., Hamon, M., Richards, D., (WHO), ] W. H. O., Blessing, E. M., Bleakley, S., Zhang, J., & ElBatsh, M. M. (2020, December 31). Chronic administration of synthetic cannabidiol induces antidepressant effects involving modulation of serotonin and noradrenaline levels in the hippocampus. Neuroscience Letters. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0304394020308648
Serotonin syndrome - statpearls - NCBI bookshelf. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482377/