In a study conducted at the Universidad de Cantabria, Raquel Linge and her team performed a study using cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive seizure-stopping cannabinoid found in marijuana, to treat depression.

Cannabis reacts with different endocannabinoid receptors throughout the brain and body, thus producing different effects, and neuroscientists have witnessed how CBD affects serotonin and glutamate levels. These two neurotransmitters in the brain are what pharmaceuticals often target to treat the biological causes of depression.

The study used a mouse model called OBX that is often used to research depression in humans. It involves removing part of a mouse’s brain to trigger some of the symptoms of depression. The mice with the OBX surgery were compared with normal mice and both were administered CBD. Within 30 minutes, researchers noticed a significant reduction in hyperactivity, which could present as anxiety in humans. Over the course of a week, mice regained their ability to enjoy sugar. This characteristic is often translated into a human’s desire for enjoyment.

In both OBX mice and normal mice, researchers saw an increase in glutamate levels immediately, and they held over the course of the week. The serotonin levels were more subtle, and seemed to hold steady only in mice who had the OBX surgery, suggesting that it was a response based on the conditions of the brain.

There are a wide variety of pharmaceutical options on the market for treating depression, but all of them fall within nine main categories. Depression can have many different biological causes and the variety of treatment options help doctors narrow in on the best treatment for their patients. The promising data from this study suggests CBD could be used as a base for new treatment options. What’s more, the study indicates that the response to CBD was almost immediate, which is not the case for most conventional pharmaceutical treatments that take weeks or even months to balance out and produce desired effects.

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