For nearly five decades now, many people across the country have believed that marijuana can help with depression. There have been some studies too over the years to study the effects of marijuana on depression. The problem with marijuana has always been its psychoactive substance known as tetrahydrocannabinol. The only reason why marijuana had taken so long to be legalized, even if it is only in some states, is the intoxicating effect of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. Medical marijuana has been legal in many states for a long time now. Recreational marijuana is being legalized in several states with a few already having relaxed its laws.
In recent times, substances other than tetrahydrocannabinol have been studied. Just like marijuana, there were claims that CBD can provide several health benefits. One of these benefits was cited as managing or alleviating depression. The effects of cannabidiol on depression were largely opinions of users and speculations by others. Now there is proof that cannabidiol has sustained effects on depression. A team of researchers studied the use of cannabidiol in rats. One dose of CBD in rats reduced their symptoms of depression.
It is worthwhile to note that antidepressants, whether prescribed or over the counter, do not work immediately. Even the stronger commercial antidepressants take up to a month or usually four weeks for any substantial effect and most of these also have interactions with other drugs. Many antidepressants are outright ineffective. They have absolutely no measurable impact on the symptoms of depression. Patients feel no relief. These are in stark contrast to the effects of cannabidiol on depression.
The research was conducted by scientists in the state of Sao Paulo in Brazil. They collaborated with Danish scientists to carry out this study. The inference is that cannabidiol can work effectively and immediately. It can alleviate the symptoms the very same day as administering just the single dose. A regular dose can maintain these effects. The rats under observation were studied for a whole week and they showed significant improvement. The research now provides scientific backing to the perception that cannabidiol extracted from cannabis sativa plants can offer relief from depression. The substance has also been known to provide relief from anxiety.
The findings of the study have been published in Molecular Neurobiology. Amanda Juliana Sales (PhD) of Sao Paulo Research Foundation, who is the first author of the study, and Francisco Silveira Guimaraes, the coordinator of the Thematic Project that was conducted by the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development in Brazil and Aarhus University Research Foundation of Denmark, stated that cannabidiol does not have any psychoactive effect. It does not trigger dependence. There is no observable psychotropic effect on the user and hence is a much safer alternative to tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. They also said that cannabidiol actually blocked a few of the ill effects of THC.
The team of researchers carried out extensive tests. They used mouse and rat lines selected by cross-breeding so they could develop symptoms of depression. More than three hundred animals were tested and their behavioral changes were analyzed. The animals were also subjected to additional stress by forcing them to swim and other activities. As many as five different tests were conducted and they altogether contributed to the same inference. The rats were administered an injection containing cannabidiol. The single doses varied, from seven to as much as thirty milligram per kilogram in a saline solution. There was a control group of rats that was administered only the saline solution and not cannabidiol.
Half an hour after administering the cannabidiol and saline to the control group, the rats were placed in cylinders for five minutes. The cylinders were twenty five centimeters tall and had a diameter of seventeen centimeters. The cylinders had ten centimeters and thirty centimeters of water for mice and rats respectively. The cylinders and water levels were so chosen to prevent the mice and rats from touching the bottom with their tails or feet and just about float by swimming. The rats floated and kept their heads above the water. There is a state of immobility when rats can simply float without attempting to swim. This phase of immobility is shorter if rats are depressed and hence they will swim more. Those that were given cannabidiol had longer immobility, thereby indicating that they were dealing with much less depression or that they had overcome the symptoms of their depression.
The researchers also conducted a separate study to test if the rats were behaving such due to any psycho-stimulant effect. The test checked their locomotor activity. It was an open field test wherein the animals were put in an arena to let them explore a new environment. The exploratory activities were recorded. There was no observable increase in their locomotor activity, thereby proving that no psychoactive or psychotropic effect was caused.