Cannabidiol for Depression: Issues and Prospects

William Kellogg
April 12, 2019

The recent observation of that Cannabidiol has an effect in reducing the symptoms of depression, and depressive disorders have led to the explosion of CBD products in the last decade. There many controversies including regulatory, safety and effectiveness surrounding its use.

cbd oil depression

In a translational investigation of the therapeutic potential of Cannabidiol (CBD), Jose et al. (2018) were able to discover that CBD has anxiolytic, antipsychotic and neuroprotective properties. The study was a non-systematic search for studies dealing with therapeutic applications of CBD, especially the ones conducted by Brazilian researchers.

CBD oil is essentially a natural product made from cannabidiol that has been diluted in some type of oil, usually essential oils or lipid soluble hydrophobic solvents. Cannabidiol is a cannabinoid derived from cannabis plants like marijuana or hemp. It has been reported that CBD oil does not produce the psychoactive side effects seen with the use of marijuana because the CBD has been isolated from the many other cannabinoids in the plant. THC (Tetrahydrocannabidiol) specifically, which is the cannabinoid that is associated with the “high” feeling many people experience following the use of this natural plant product, is not present in CBD oil products. Lately, CBD oil has emerged as a potential treatment option for a variety of conditions, including anxiety, epilepsy, depression, and pain disorders

The limited regulatory control over natural products including phytochemicals, the chemical variability, lack of harmonized approach to clinical trials and the limited evidence-based pharmaceutical solution that will prove that CBD treats depression for which physicians would prescribe with some level of confidence for the management of individuals living with depression. Despite the developments in the CBD market, a sound pharmaceutical approach would be needed to bring this product to hospital dispensaries. This requires that regulatory, quality and compliance issues of pharmaceutical product development must be complied with. Although plants have been historical sources of medicines since the time of Dioscorides and they account for over 25% of over-the-counter medicines even in the United States. And many more account for prescription medicines. Digoxin, for instance, is widely used for acute heart failure attacks. Artemisinin is widely used for the treatment of malaria in malaria-endemic regions such as sub-Saharan Africa and Some parts of Asia. It should be remembered that these products were subject to extensive research and pharmaceutical analysis from the identification of therapeutic target down to commercialization. The CBD market, on the other hand, is a lot different. From the standpoint of pharmaceutical development, it is difficult to produce adequate blinding in clinical trials of psychoactive drugs such as CBD. The product is psychoactive. This means that issues of dependency and precipitation of withdrawal symptoms following discontinuance of therapy cannot be ignored. Other cognitive problems that might result from the use of this natural product such as impairment of short term memory cannot be ignored. However, the use of Cannabinol for the treatment of depression appears promising although sufficient clinical trials and laboratory investigations are yet to commence. But the continuing popularity of CBD products for depression makes this subject worthy of investigation. For treatment of depression to be effective, psychotherapy and thorough monitoring must also be integrated. Conventional medications for the management of depression includes drugs such as Fluoxetine (Prozac), Citalopram, Amitriptyline, Imipramine, and Nortriptyline. These drugs have a uniform mechanism of action which is to increase the concentration of stimulant substances in the brain to improve the depressive symptoms.

Jose et al. concluded that more controlled clinical trials with different and larger neuropsychiatric populations will be required to bring important answers in the near future and support the translation of research findings to clinical settings which will be able to validate the therapeutic potentials of CBD.

William Kellogg

William Kellogg is a veteran writer who's covered the subject of the intersection of technology, health and mental wellness for nearly two decades.

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