A recent article in Medical News Today by Jon Johnson reviewed by Alan Carter, PharmD, discusses the potential for cannabidiol (CBD) to treat depression. As CBD continues to gain in popularity, Johnson says research into its potential benefits for treating depression look promising.

CBD is one of over 100 compounds called cannabinoids, found in the plant Cannabis sativa, similar to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), but the two compounds affect the body differently. Whereas THC creates euphoria or the high associated with using cannabis, CBD does not have the same effect.

Researchers say because CBD has a positive interaction with serotonin receptors in the brain it may be useful in treating anxiety and depression, which are common mental health conditions that affect a person’s overall wellbeing. Seratonin has the effect of balancing a person’s functions and feelings of wellbeing and happiness.

Johnson points out that many pharmaceutical drugs used to treat or manage depression often cause side effects such as sleeplessness, sexual dysfunction, and mood swings. CBD may be a promising treatment because initial studies show that it has far fewer side effects with less risk of becoming habit forming or addictive. However, if someone is sensitive to the compounds in CBD, they may experience changes in appetite, weight, fatigue, and bowel changes. Also, since CBD can also interact with a range of medications, anyone considering using it should speak to a doctor about their existing medications to check for any interactions.

Since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate natural supplements such as CBD, it is important to purchase reputable products and check for third-party lab results that indicate CBD levels in any given product.