The list of potential benefits of cannabidiol (CBD) just keeps on growing. New research indicates the cannabinoid may be useful as an anti-depressant.
Cannabidiol is one of at dozens of active cannabinoids identified in cannabis. A non-intoxicating compound, CBD is already being used to treat conditions such as forms of epilepsy.
While cannabidiol has been known to exhibit anti-anxiety effects in behavioural tests, its potential for treating major depression has been poorly explored; as has the mechanism of action.
Testing of the cannabinoid was recently carried out on mice with their olfactory bulbs renewed, known as OBX mice.
The surgical removal of the olfactory bulbs leads to behavioural changes, including hyperactivity and anhedonia – a loss of interest in previously rewarding or enjoyable activities. Basically, OBX mice are depressed mice.
Anti-depressants are known to reverse this behaviour, making OBX mice suitable subjects for testing this type of medication.
The study indicated CDB produces rapid and maintained anti-depressant effects.
The level of dose was important. 10 mg/kg of CBD created an antidepressant-like actions after two weeks of treatment; but when 50 mg/kg was used at the beginning of treatment, the reversal of OBX-hyperactivity was observable from the first injection and the anti-anhedonic effect appeared after just one week administration.
Microdialysis revealed that the administration of CBD significantly boosted serotonin and glutamate levels. Seretonin acts as a neurotransmitter and a deficiency is thought to play a role in depression. Glutamatergic neurotransmission has been associated with the fast antidepressant efficacy of ketamine.
“In conclusion, our findings indicate that CBD could represent a novel fast antidepressant drug, via enhancing both serotonergic and glutamate cortical signalling through a 5-HT1A receptor-dependent mechanism,” state the authors of the study, which has been published in Neuropharmacology.
While we acknowledge animal testing is rather distasteful to say the least, here’s hoping the suffering of the mice involved wasn’t wasted and will lead on to bigger and better things in this regard – without a further need to harm animals.
A review of previous behavioural studies also suggests that CBD exhibited an anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects in animal models.