May 11, 2021 5 min read
How can a physical condition like chronic inflammation impact your mood? The answers may surprise you.
Research is discovering that stress, PTSD, anxiety disorders, and depression all correlate with physical inflammation. For some people, anxiety or depression comes first, while for others the inflammation comes first. Many of the illnesses associated with long-term anxiety and depression, including Alzheimer's disease, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriasis, may result from the associated inflammatory response and how it compromises the immune system.
Fortunately, high-quality, full-spectrum CBD supports immune health, fights inflammation, and alleviates anxiety and depression.
Stress can have a harder impact on your body than a poor diet or a lack of exercise! In a study done on caregivers of ailing family members, researchers were surprised to discover the heavily-stressed caregivers were more susceptible to infection and took 24% longer to heal from a minor wound.
Scientists also noticed that stress can induce or worsen medical conditions like heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer's, Huntington's, Parkinson's), and cancer. The symptoms of the disease either started or got worse after a stressful event or period of very high stress.
As they investigated the mechanism that makes that happen, researchers discovered that stress causes the body to release pro-inflammatory cytokines. Under normal, healthy circumstances, these cytokines would fight infections. However, when the body produces these cytokines over a long period (like when someone is experiencing prolonged stress) they cause chronic inflammation and create the conditions for all sorts of health challenges.
Overconsuming processed foods, tobacco, or alcoholic beverages all cause inflammation when done in excess. If you've ever experienced a 'brain fog' the day after eating, drinking, or smoking too much, you have felt the relationship between cytokine signaling and brain function.
Researchers are now seeing that cytokines released by the immune system impact the central nervous system. In fact, cytokine signaling in the brain regulates essential brain functions including synaptic plasticity and the neural circuitry of mood.
A 2013 study done with a large group of adults with anxiety disorders or characteristics found a clear correlation between anxiety and specific inflammatory markers.
A 2020 study identified a neuronal receptor that straddles the intersection between social stress, inflammation, and anxiety, physiologically linking the three.
CBD is a powerful tool in the battle against inflammation and anxiety because of its interaction with the human endocannabinoid system (ECS). CB1 and CB2, two primary receptors activated by CBD, are found in the brain, in the central nervous system, and throughout the immune system. This means that CBD helps balance the systems involved both in inflammation and in mood.
Unlike the common anti-anxiety medication beta-blockers, which reduce symptoms by blocking the effects of a stress hormone, CBD is helping the systems of your body find better homeostasis. It's not just providing relief of symptoms; it's helping the body's systems communicate and balance.
According to a review of studies compiled in 2015, CBD interacts with receptors in the brain that regulate fear and anxiety-induced behaviors. They found preclinical and clinical evidence that CBD can effectively treat a variety of anxiety disorders, including PTSD, OCD, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and general anxiety disorder.
Public speaking can cause anxiety in most people. A 2011 study found that participants who took 600 mg of CBD during a public speaking test were less anxious and reported clearer thinking and less discomfort during their speech.
A review of eight studies published in 2020 showed that CBD can be an effective treatment or complementary treatment for PTSD, social anxiety disorder, and general anxiety disorder. However, they also noted a vast difference in the doses used in studies and called for further research to target the ideal dose to treat anxiety.
Fifty-seven adult males in a 2019 study experienced a significant reduction in anxiety symptoms using 300–600 mg of CBD daily. More studies on dosage are underway.
If you are using CBD for anxiety, you may want to slowly adjust the amount you take to see what works best for you.
Not every single patient with depression has inflammation. However, multiple studies show people with depression are significantly more likely to have several inflammatory markers. In fact, increased inflammation occurs in several other psychiatric conditions, including bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, and schizophrenia.
Patients with major depressive disorder who are at risk for suicide reliably show higher levels of specific inflammatory markers, making the inflammation an early detection for treatment.
These correlations are causing researchers to investigate inflammation's effects on the brain and behavior. So far, they know that inflammation reduces the availability of transporters for serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. A person with inflammation will have less access to these essential neurotransmitters. They will feel less motivated, more helpless, less engaged, more tired, and be more likely to be drawn to external dopamine-stimulators like drugs, gambling, and shopping.
Depression affects more than 168 million people worldwide, with the most incidence in high-income countries. Since triggers for inflammation include chronic stress, alcohol abuse, smoking, inactivity, and a diet heavy in processed foods, it's easy to see that lifestyle may contribute in some cases.
One powerful way CBD influences mood is by modulating the transmission of serotonin and norepinephrine. People with inflammation and depression are experiencing an imbalance of specific neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.CBD can help balance these activities in the brain.
The research into the mechanisms and effectiveness of CBD as a treatment for depression is still underway. Multiple studies show CBD to have remarkable anti-stress and anti-depressive effects. It shows promise as a fast-acting antidepressant.
Preclinical trials showed CBD to reduce depression and allow an increase in engagement in pleasurable activities.
One way CBD does this is through positive interactions with serotonin receptors in the brain. Scientists say it may increase serotonin levels or increase the effectiveness of the serotonin already there.
In vitro, CBD demonstrated an action similar to the medication lithium, which helps some patients with mood stabilization and depression relief.
Unlike many medications, CBDs benefits accumulate in the body and brain over time. Do not expect instant results from a single dose. Instead, commit to regular use over a period of time to measure its effects.
While the effect in CBD studies for most people has been a reduction in anxiety or depression, a small percentage saw their symptoms get worse during treatment. If you feel more anxious or depressed while taking CBD, discontinue use at least for a while.
Nature is a powerful ally for health and well-being. Organic, full-spectrum CBD enhanced with plant terpenes harnesses some of the most remarkable molecules available, naturally. For people with anxiety and depression, CBD fights inflammation, supports the immune system, and helps balance neurotransmitters in the brain.
This is part three in our four-part look at inflammation, health, and CBD. Next, discover inflammation's role in diabetes and how CBD can help.
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