New to CBD and suffering from depression? We’ve put together this ultimate guide to CBD to help you understand what depression is and how CBD can act as an anti-depressant. We also list the Best CBD Oils for Depression at the end of this article.
CBD for Depression – The Ultimate Guide
Depression is a mental illness which leaves its sufferers considerably distressed, sad or anxious. It affects the way a person thinks, feels, behaves, and interacts with others. It also makes it hard to carry out daily tasks or take care of themselves.
According to MentalHealth.org.uk and the NHS, depression is the predominant mental health problem worldwide with approximately 11% of the UK reporting moderate to severe depressive symptoms between 2019 and 2020. A recent survey revealed that more than 1 billion people across the world can be considered depressed.
But the number of adults experiencing some form of depression in the UK doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic to reach 19.2% in summer 2020. With 1 in 5 adults suffering from depression, the consequences on their wellbeing and day-do-day life are devastating and include increased stress, anxiety, difficulties in holding a job as well as personal relationships with others.
Choosing CBD, a popular product made from hemp extract (cannabis plant), is a natural and effective treatment for depression and counteract the side effects of antidepressant medication. It can even help with the symptoms of PTSD and other neurocognitive disorders.
In this article we discuss CBD oil benefits for treating the symptoms of depression based on research papers and peer-reviewed studies. We explain how CBD oil can help with depression and provide links to purchase high quality CBD oils we’ve tried and tested.
Take our CBD Quiz
If after reading this guide you are still unsure about what products to choose for your depression, simply take our CBD Quiz which has been designed specifically to identify the product and strength that is best suited to your personal needs.
CBD has been proven to have antidepressant properties through its interaction with both the Hippocampus and the Amygdala. It also does not carry any of the side side-effects of traditional antidepressants such as SNRIs and SSRIs.
What is CBD?
Cannabis (or Marijuana) and hemp are the same plant and come from the Cannabaceae family. Both plants are filled with organic compounds known as “cannabinoids”. Hemp has over 112 different cannabinoids, all of which have their own health benefits.
The main two cannabinoids or compounds of the hemp plant are THC (also known as “Tetrahydrocannabinol”) and CBD (also known as “Cannabidiol”).
THC is the compound known to give cannabis smokers this feeling of “high” and is currently illegal in the UK.
CBD on the other hand, contains none of the psychoactive properties associated with THC (meaning it won’t get you “high”) and is completely legal in the UK. It is also non-addictive and has been suggested to have several medical benefits. Some of these benefits include reducing anxiety and depression, improving sleep and insomnia, reducing pain and inflammation, as well as helping with stress or neurological disorders.
These benefits are possible because CBD interacts with your “Endocannabinoid System” (ECS), which essentially monitors and regulate key functions of your body such as your heat level, your food intake, your hormone levels and so on. When your ECS detects that something is operating outside of what it considers to be its “normal range”, it activates to bring things back to its baseline. If you are exercising and become too hot, your ECS activates and makes you sweat to bring your temperature down. If you need more calories for your body to keep performing (for example running) but you aren’t feeding it, your ECS may start redirecting the energy available towards vital organs such as the heart and brain, leading to a drop in physical performance.
The term Endocannabinoid can be broken down into two parts:
- Cannabinoid: which comes from Cannabis
- Endo: which is short for “Endogenous” and means that it is naturally produced by your body.
So endocannabinoid simply means that your body naturally produces cannabinoids, and does so thanks to cannabinoid receptors present in the body, which fall under two categories:
CB1 receptors, which are located in various regions of the body, with a large concentration in the brain and the nerves of the spinal cord, co-ordinate mood, emotion, appetite, and other functions.
CB2 receptors are more commonly found in the immune system and are responsible for controlling inflammation and pain. CBD stimulates these receptors and induces the body to release serotonin.
Serotonin, or 5-HT, is a neurotransmitter that carries signals from one neuron to the other. CBD increases the level of serotonin, which, in return, helps reduce pain, reduce inflammation in the body and possibly reduces the cramping experienced during period pain.
Whilst there are very few differences between “Marijuana” and “Hemp”, the main difference is simply legal and linked to the level of THC that is present in the plant. So different parts of the cannabis plant are either defined as hemp or as cannabis / marijuana.
- Hemp: hemp is the stalks, stems and sterilized seeds of cannabis sativa (“Cannabis Sativa” is the scientific Latin term that defines hemp, cannabis or marijuana plant species)
- Cannabis and Marijuana: the leaves, flowers and viable seeds of cannabis sativa
The varieties of cannabis that are regulated, legal and available in the UK are those that produce less than 0.2 percent THC. And given the fact that most THC is in the flowers, CBD products are primarily made from hemp (stalks, stems and sterilized seeds of cannabis sativa) which contain very little THC and are safe to consume.
There has been a lot of interest in CBD from both the research and medical community over the last few years, due to its range of health applications – including but not limited to pain relief, fighting the side effects of cancer medications, alleviating insomnia, lowering stress levels, improving acne outbreaks, counteracting heat disease, or reducing seizures in patients with epilepsy
For all these reasons, CBD products are legal in the UK if they contain less than 0.2% THC and as long as they are advertised as a health supplement and not a medication.
Products containing CBD come in many different forms, with the most common including CBD oils, CBD gummies, CBD capsules, CBD vapes and CBD edibles. Some forms are more fast-acting than others, some have different flavours, some contain differing proportions of CBD extract, and so on, so the type you choose depends entirely upon your personal preferences and the condition you wish to treat.
Here’s what you need to know about using CBD for depression.
Depression: What You Need to Know
Whilst feeling down every now and again is completely normal, especially when facing difficult events or situations that may be challenging or threatening, having regular feelings of depression can cause significant distress and may impact one’s ability to carry out their daily life.
What is Depression?
According to MentalHealth.org.uk, depression is a common mental disorder. People suffering from depression usually experience depressed mood along with a range of other symptoms such as low self-esteem, lack of enjoyment from day-to-day life, low energy level, difficulties in concentrating and in some extreme cases self-harm or suicidal thoughts.
Following a recent study, the NHS found that 11.6% of the UK population suffered from moderate to severe depression between April 2019 and March 2020, up from 10.8% the previous year.
Not only did the number of people suffering from depression in the UK went up between 2018 and 2019, but the coronavirus outbreak in March 2020 resulted in this number reaching a whopping 19.2% by summer 2020! That’s 1 in 5 adults in the UK suffering from mild to severe depression.
Who Suffers From Depression?
Whilst there are no rules around who may suffer from depression, not everyone is impacted by depression in the same way:
- Women: Major depression is more common in females than in males. In the UK, 24% of women and 13% of men are diagnosed with depression in their lifetime. Depression is more than twice as prevalent in young women than men (ages 14–25 year), but this ratio decreases with age. The fact that depression tends to be more prevalent in women may primarily stem from biological sex differences, in particular hormonal changes in women, leading to specific conditions such as post-natal depression, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) or postmenopausal depression.
- Other mental illnesses: People suffering from other mental illnesses such as general anxiety disorder or PTSD are more likely to experience depression.
- Young people: Depression occurs in 2.1% of people aged between 5 and 19 years old. However they tend to recover from depression within 6 to 12 months.
- LGBTQ+: People who identify as LGBTIQ+ are 2–3 times more likely than heterosexual people to report having a mental health problem such as depression. This is linked to social inequality, discrimination or traumatic experiences.
- Black community: 23% of Black people in the UK will experience a common mental health problem such as depression in any given week. As with the LGBTQ+ community, the increase incidence of depression can be linked to social inequality or disadvantages, discrimination or social exclusion as well as traumatic experiences they may have experienced.
- Multiple disadvantages categories: People with overlapping problems such as homelessness, substance misuse and links with the criminal justice system are also more likely to suffer from depression.
What are the Triggers of Depression?
Whilst depression can be broken down by groups of people, it’s also important to consider the causality between triggers and depression. Some of the triggers that may cause a person to suffer from mild to severe depression include.
- Stressful events: A stressful event such as a bereavement, a job loss or a relationship breakdown can lead to a person feeling down and experiencing depression. This problem may be compounded by the fact that immediately after this stressful event, a person may want to isolate themselves from the rest of the world, including friends and family. By doing this, they further increase their chances of experiencing mild to severe depression as their support network is non-existent.
- Personality: Your personality may also play a role in whether you are likely to suffer from depression or not. Your family genes which you have inherited from your parents, your upbringing as well as your life experiences may have led you to developing personality traits such as low self-esteem or being overly self-critical, which are making you more vulnerable to depression.
- Genes and family history: As we’ve seen, your genes may impact your likelihood of experiencing depression and so is your family history. If one of your parents, brothers or sisters suffered from anxiety and depression at some point in their life, you are more likely to suffer from depression yourself.
- Giving birth: With 24% of women in the UK being diagnosed with depression in their lifetime, establishing a causality between biological sex differences such as hormonal changes and depression in women is straightforward. The hormonal and physical changes experienced by women during the pregnancy and after the birth, along with the new responsibilities it creates, can lead to postnatal depression.
- Loneliness: Humans are social creatures so it’s not surprising to see a causal link between loneliness and depression. People who do not have a support network around them or who have been cut-off from their family and friends, are more likely to suffer from depression. The Covid-19 pandemic which hit the UK in 2020, forced people to isolate for several months and took away their ability to physically socialise with work colleagues, family members and friends. This unprecedented situation drove many people to feeling lonely during this difficult period, which ultimately led to the 19.2% of the UK population experiencing depression in 2020.
- Alcohol and drugs: Alcohol and drugs can also have a negative impact on one’s ability to deal with distress, sadness, or anxiety. Alcohol is a known ‘depressant’ and both alcohol and drugs alter the delicate balance of chemicals in the brain, which increases the risk of depression.
- Illness: Depression may also be linked to your health. A person suffering from a life-threatening illness such as cancer or a chronic and debilitating disease such as chronic arthritis is more likely to suffer from depression than someone who is healthy. This is down to the fact that dealing with pain on a day-to-day basis or the prospect of a life-threatening condition will affect one’s mood and spirit, leading to them experiencing depression.
7 Types of Depression
Not only is depression a terrifying disease which can be characterised as mild, moderate or severe, but it’s commonly misunderstood as there are different classifications of depression.
Whilst people are often diagnosed as having clinical Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), also known as depression, MDD comes in different shapes and sizes.
In fact, the 7 most common types of depression are Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), Persistent Depressive Disorder (dysthymia), Postpartum Depression (PPD), Bipolar Disorder (BD), Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), and.
Major Depressive Disorder – also known as MDD, is the generic condition referred to as depression and which is characterized by depressed mood, lack of interest in people or activities, general fatigue, feelings of worthlessness, problems concentrating, insomnia, weight gain or weight loss as well as suicidal or self-harm thoughts. A person experiencing these symptoms for 2 or more weeks may suffer from depression.
Persistent Anxiety-Induced Depression Depressive Disorder – also known as Dysthymia, is the chronic form of depression which can lasts for years and affects one’s ability to keep their job or maintain relationships with others. Whilst the symptoms of Dysthymia are similar to those of MDD, they typically don’t disappear for more than two months at a time and can often lead to a feeling of helplessness.
Postpartum Depression – also referred to as PPD, is a type of depression that parents can have after having a baby. Whilst postnatal depression (“baby blues”) usually affects new moms immediately after childbirth and leads to symptoms such as mood swings, sadness, irritability, anxiety, crying spells as well as insomnia or difficulty sleeping, postpartum depression is a more severe case of postnatal depression which is more intense and can last for weeks or months. In some extreme cases, PPD may even interfere with one’s ability to care for their baby.
Bipolar Disorder – also known as BD or manic depression, is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings which can range from extreme highs (mania) and extreme lows (depression). Episodes of extreme lows often last for several weeks or months and are characterised by a range of symptoms including lack of energy, feeling sad or hopeless, being irritable, having self-doubt, feeling pessimistic or empty, as well as lack of appetite or insomnia.
Episodes on extreme highs on the other hand tend to be shorter in duration and include symptoms such as feeling happy or ecstatic, being full of energy, feeling important, as well as being easily irritable or doing things out of the ordinary such as making decisions which are out of character.
A person suffering from bipolar disorder will cycle through episodes of depression and episodes of mania but may tend to experience more depression than mania, or vice-versa.
Seasonal Affective Disorder – also referred to as SAD or “winter depression” due to its prevalence during the winter season, is a type of depression which is associated to seasons and the weather. The vast majority of people will experience SAD in winter, but it can also affect people in summer. The symptoms of SAD include persistent low mood, irritability, feeling tired or lethargic, wanting to sleep for longer than normal or craving certain foods such as carbs. SAD often strikes in winter as there seems to be a correlation between the reduced exposure to sunlight which reduces the production of serotonin, the hormone that affects your mood, appetite and sleep.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder – also known as PMDD, is a mental health condition similar to premenstrual syndrome (PMS), but more severe. PMDD is usually characterised by severe irritability, mood swings, fatigue, emotional sensitivity, and depression which build up one to two weeks before the period starts and will usually go away a few days after the period starts. The causes of PMDD remain unclear but it is believed that the fluctuation of normal hormones during the menstrual cycle may lead to a deficiency in serotonin, the hormone that affects your mood, appetite and sleep.
Anxiety-Induced Depression – anxiety can be a risk factor for depression with patients suffering from panic attacks, separation anxiety disorder, or phobias such as claustrophobia (fear of enclosed spaces) or glossophobia (fear of public speaking) more likely to suffer from depression as a result.
The Consequences of Depression
Not only is depression the most common mental health disorder worldwide, but the burden of this disease goes way beyond quality of life and extends to the health of the body.
Over the last 20 years, many studies have shown that depression increases the risk of overall mortality, the development of cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, and obesity. Additional studies have shown that depression also increases the risks of developing Alzheimer’s disease and to a lesser extent cancer.
Another consequence is the impact of depression on suicidal thoughts and self-harm. About 5% of people with depression commit suicide, and about 20% attempt suicide at least once. Women are more likely to have suicidal thoughts and make suicide attempts than men. But men are 3 times more likely to take their own life than women.
It’s not clear whether depression makes you more likely to attempt suicide, or whether attempted suicide is a symptom of the depression itself.
Side Effects of Antidepressants
Mental health issues such as depression and anxiety disorders are usually treated with antidepressants which aim to correct chemical imbalances of neurotransmitters in the brain which are responsible for changes in mood and behaviour.
The use of antidepressants has skyrocketed over the last 20 years. These generally fall under one of two categories:
SNRIs and SSRIs
- SNRIs: Serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors, also known as SNRIs, are used to treat major depression and associated mood disorders. They work by raising the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine, two neurotransmitters in the brain that play a key role in stabilizing mood.
- SSRIs: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, also referred to as SSRIs, are also used to treat depression and are one of the main antidepressants prescribed today. SSRIs work by blocking the absorption of serotonin in the brain to facilitate the sending and receiving of messages by brain cells which results in better and more stable mood. SSRIs tend to have fewer side effects than other antidepressants and are therefore a popular medication to treat patients suffering from depression.
Not only do these antidepressants have a substantial time lag to induce therapeutic response, meaning that several weeks of treatment are necessary to generate a positive response, but their overall efficacy also remains quite low with a third of patients not responding to the treatment itself.
Side Effects of Antidepressants
More worryingly though, they come with a long list of side effects which shouldn’t be ignored:
- Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
- Nausea and vomiting
- Constipation or diarrhoea
- Weight loss
- Low sodium
- Skin issues such as rashes
- Dry mouth
- Excessive sweating
- Muscle issues such as tremors
- Low sex drive and sexual dysfunction
- Migraines and headaches
- Agitation and abnormal thinking
In children and teenagers, there also seems to be a link between antidepressants and suicidal thoughts.
According to a recent analysis of short-term placebo-controlled trials of antidepressants carried out in the US, including SSRIs, in children and teenagers, suffering from major depressive disorder, known as MDD, the average risk of suicide during the first few months of treatment was 4%, twice the risk of the placebo group which stood at 2%.
The second aspect to consider when looking at antidepressants is the fact that patients taking SNRIS or SSRIs can become addicted to them. This addiction is mainly linked to the physical dependence an individual may develop regarding the drug, meaning that they may experience withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, nausea, vomiting and tremors if they were to suddenly stop taking the drug.
On the other hand, severe mental health issues such as depression can be treated with cognitive behavioural therapy, exercise and psychotherapy. While these schools of treatment are effective for many conditions, they are not always right for every person and can only address part of the problem.
CBD Acts as an Antidepressant
Although people have been using herbal remedies for sleep, anxiety, or pain for centuries, it wasn’t until the last few years that hemp’s legal status changed, allowing more people to benefit from its many health related benefits.
Cannabidiol, the scientific name for CBD, on the other hand is a naturally occurring compound coming from the hemp plant that helps people fight inflammation, pain and various mental health related issues.
When it comes to depression and anxiety related disorders, the main properties of CBD include:
- Antidepressant: to fight anxiety and depression
- Sleep: CBD helps with both falling asleep and staying asleep
CBD Can Reduce Depression
When it comes to depression and anxiety-related disorders, it is important to understand the crucial role brain chemistry plays, especially in relation to the hippocampus and the amygdala.
- Hippocampus: The hippocampus is a complex part of the brain that plays a major role in cognitive and emotional functions. There is increasing evidence showing that adult hippocampal neurogenesis – the process by which the hippocampus regenerates thanks to neural stem cells producing new neurons – helps reduce stress and anxiety by boosting the endocrine response. Put it simply, people with attenuated (reduced) hippocampal neurogenesis are more likely to develop anxiety-related behaviours.
- Amygdala: The amygdala is a collection of cells near the base of the brain (there is one in each side of the brain) that is part of the brain’s limbic system. It is the area of the brain where emotions are given meaning and remembered. Research has shown that people who suffer from depression will experience a hyper-active amygdala.
CBD helps to ease the symptoms of depression by regulating the functions of the hippocampus and the amygdala, and therefore their effects on how our brain processes potentially anxiety ridden information or situations.
How does CBD help?
CBD has been proven to increase cerebral blood flow to areas of the brain associated with memory processing, specifically the hippocampus. The findings identify a potential mechanism for the use of CBD to treat disorders associated with altered memory processing, including Alzheimer’s disease, PTSD, and schizophrenia.
Put it simply, a single dose of cannabidiol (CBD) helped increase blood flow to the hippocampus, an important area of the brain associated with memory and emotion, which means that CBD has been proven by several scientists and medical professionals to help smooth the cognitive processes of this part of the brain.
According to Dr Michael Bloomfield from UCL: “Cannabidiol is one of the main constituents of cannabis and is gaining interest for its therapeutic potential. There is evidence that CBD may help reduce symptoms of psychosis and anxiety as well as improve memory function. Additionally, CBD changes how the brain processes emotional memories, which could help to explain its reputed therapeutic effects in PTSD and other psychiatric disorders.”
These finding have been backed by double blind studies where on different occasions, separated by at least a week, each participant was given a 600mg of oral CBD or a placebo. The doses came in identical capsules, so participants did not know which one they were taking on which occasion.
Researchers measured blood flow to the hippocampus using ‘arterial spin labelling’ – an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) brain scanning technique which measures changes in the blood oxygen levels.
CBD significantly increased blood flow in the hippocampus, however CBD did not cause significant differences in blood flow in other regions of the medial temporal lobe (MTL), of which the hippocampus is a significant component.
In the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain used for planning and decision making, CBD caused a significant increase in blood flow in the orbitofrontal cortex.
This supports the view that CBD has region-specific blood flow effects in the human brain, which would help with conditions such as depression, stress and anxiety.
In a double-blind study in Brazil, 57 participants received either CBD oil or a placebo 90 minutes before they underwent a simulated public speaking event. The researchers found that a 300-mg dose of CBD was the most effective at significantly reducing anxiety during the event.
Since one of the buy-products of CBD consumption is an increased blood flow in the hippocampus as well as in the orbitofrontal cortex, researchers assume that CBD essentially helps repair damage in both these areas caused by the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
And seeing as sleep deprivation is largely related to depression and anxiety issues; it’s good to know that CBD also has well known benefits when it comes to insomnia also.
CBD Can Improve Your Sleep
Whilst depression may primarily affect people during the day, some people may struggle to sleep at night. This lack of sleep increases their likelihood of being unable to cope with specific situation that may aggravate their depression and thus starts the vicious cycle of lack and sleep and worsening depression. So how can CBD help?
There is extensive research on the effectiveness of CBD oil to treat insomnia and improve sleep.
CBD works with the human body to increase calm, decrease stress, and lower anxiety levels. These responses indirectly improve your sleep. In the 1990s, researchers confirmed the body has an endocannabinoid system or ECS. Researchers have only found a link between the cannabinoids found in hemp with the ECS, making it an unusual reaction.
The ECS is a complex cell-signalling system consisting of endocannabinoids, cannabinoid receptors, and enzymes. Scientists believe it plays many roles, including maintaining balance in the body. When it comes to sleep, the ECS helps regulate sleep and sleep cycles. Also, relating to sleep, a potential function is boosting anandamide to reduce depression and anxiety.
The cannabinoid receptors interact with endocannabinoids and cannabinoids. The CB1 is located in the nervous system and brain. Additionally, the CB2 is found mostly in the immune system and most organs.
A recent surge in scientific publications has found preclinical and clinical evidence documenting value for CBD in some neuropsychiatric disorders, including epilepsy, anxiety, and schizophrenia. Evidence points toward a calming effect for CBD in the central nervous system.
In 2019, a large case series was published in the Permanente Journal about CBD’s calming effects on the central nervous system. The studies showed patients taking CBD saw lower anxiety levels, experienced less stress, and slept better at night. Additionally, most participants experienced no or few side effects.
So through its calming effect, CBD may help people fall asleep faster and stay asleep throughout the night.
CBD: The ‘Entourage Effect’
Now that you know how CBD can help you manage your pain, it is important to understand the concept of ‘entourage effect’.
The entourage effect is the theory that while each botanical compound has a unique role or benefit, its behaviour may change when the presence of another compound is present.
For example, it would be more effective and quicker to produce a play with a team of actors rather than one actor playing all the parts. When each actor has a specific role to focus on, they can learn their lines and direction and support their fellow actors. But one actor alone will take a lot longer to learn all the lines for the various parts they have to play.
This is similar to the entourage effect. Essentially, everyone knows their role, but their performance can be enhanced by comradery.
But how is this applied to CBD?
We know that CBD products stimulate the endocannabinoid system and make it work more efficiently. But different CBD products affect the ECS differently, depending on their formulation. As previously, discussed there are 3 types of CBD formulation:
- Full-spectrum: No additional extraction, contains all the natural ingredients of the hemp plant, including CBD, THC, terpenes and flavonoids.
- Broad-spectrum: All traces of THC are removed from the oil. Every other ingredient remains.
- CBD Isolate: The oil only contains CBD, everything else is removed.
One of the above formulations has been proven to give better results in reducing pain, inflammation and many other symptoms. Which one of these formulations do you think stimulates the ECS best?
Would it be the most natural substance (full-spectrum), the one with any psychoactive ingredients (broad-spectrum) or the purest form of CBD (isolate)?
According to the entourage effect, it is the full-spectrum CBD because it keeps all the natural components of the hemp plant, which include:
Cannabinoids and Terpenes
The theory of the entourage effect was first introduced by Dr Ethan B. Russo. He thinks that cannabinoids such as CBD and THC work with terpenes (aromatic component) to produce a “synergy.”
In his study “Taming THC: Potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects” (2010) Dr Ethan B Russo suggests:
- The terpene pinene, which gives the scent of pine, may help counteract compromised memory caused by THC.
- CBD and terpene limonene, which gives a citrus scent, might work together to alleviate anxiety.
- A combination of CBD and terpene caryophyllene, offering a pepper smell, may be beneficial in the treatment of addiction.
The possibility of “synergy” of endless but have not yet been categorically proven. For more information read his other study “The Case for the Entourage Effect and Conventional Breeding of Clinical Cannabis: No “Strain, No Gain” published in 2019.
Omega-3, Antioxidants and Nutrients
In addition to CBD, THC and terpenes, full-spectrum CBD oil also contains Omega-3, which is vital to the ECS. Omega-3 is used to maintain the receptor CB1, which regulate pain and memory.
It also aids the absorption of external cannabinoids, as well as making endocannabinoids internally.
Other nutrients and antioxidants have also been discovered in full-spectrum CBD oil, for example, Vitamin E. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble compound that can prevent cataract formation, postpone the appearance of wrinkles and grey hair, boosts the immune system and reduces inflammation.
As you can see CBD oil when first extracted from the hemp plant has a huge list of ingredients. All of them seem to play a part in helping our bodies. We may not know exactly what they all do. But as time passes and research continues, we can learn more.
Is CBD Legal in the UK?
CBD oil, like any other natural remedy, has been used throughout the ages for its medicinal properties. It was evidenced to have been used in ancient societies with the first recorded case in 2727 B.C in China. It was used to treat anything from poor memory and malaria to gout. It has since been used throughout the world to treat various ailments from anxiety to insomnia and menstrual pains.
Throughout the 1940s, there was extensive research into isolating the CBD compound from the other 100+ compounds found within the marijuana plant, due to its lack of psychoactive effects.
It wasn’t until the 1970’s when the US legally recognised the medicinal worth of CBD oil, and it was decriminalised in Oregon. There was a large emphasis on the clear distinction between the CBD compound and the THC compound within the marijuana plant.
The UK followed suit in 2016, making it legal to buy CBD oil to help treat a multitude of health issues, including but not limited to:
- Depression and anxiety disorders (PTSD, OCD, panic disorder or substance/addiction disorders)
- Chronic pain and inflammation
- Heart issues
- Helps to reduce blood pressure and oxidative stress
- Fight bacteria
- Insomnia and sleep related issues
- Helps with symptoms of schizophrenia,
- Skin conditions (psoriasis/eczema)
- Alzheimer’s disease
In a study conducted by the Centre for Medical Cannabis, their results showed that one in six adults in the UK had tried CBD oil, proving that it is one of the fastest-growing, contemporary, well-being products on the market.
Figures also show that the rates of people using CBD oil were higher amongst the under 55 age range. Also, figures were higher amongst females, with 62% of them using CBD to treat anxiety related issues.
How to Take CBD for Depression?
There are a few ways to take CBD for depression and anxiety disorders. Choosing a method is often a personal preference. The most common are tinctures, gummies, capsules and vapes.
CBD oil is the most common way of getting your daily dose of CBD to improve depressive symptoms or to help you reduce the frequency and intensity of your anxiety attacks.
However, whilst this is the most popular way to consume CBD, CBD oil often has a more earthy, nutty, woody or grass-like taste which is down to the fact the product is natural, safe, and non-toxic.
You can use CBD oil in different manners.
You can either place a few drops under the tongue and hold it there for 30 to 60 seconds. This way of consuming CBD – called sub-lingual. This is one of the best ways to get it absorbed into the bloodstream as this method allows CBD to completely bypass the digestive system and liver metabolism, so the compounds can avoid being broken down by enzymes and reach the bloodstream more quickly. This offers the quickest relief with an onset of 20 minutes or less.
For those who feel the earthy or grassy taste of CBD is too strong, another option is to mix it with a food or a drink to mask the taste. However, be aware that when you digest CBD, it will not provide immediate relief and you may need to wait 30 to 60 minutes for it to start working.
If the earthy and grassy taste of CBD oil or its sharp and bitter aftertaste is not for you, you may want to choose CBD capsules to experience all the benefits of CBD without any of the nasty taste or additives that gummies may contain (such as sugar).
CBD capsules are filled with a precise dose of CBD (usually between 10mg and 50mg of CBD per capsule). You can take one or two capsules, once or twice daily with a full glass of water. The CBD usually comes from full-spectrum (<0.01% THC) ground hemp and is rich in cannabinoids and terpenes. However, seeing as CBD capsules go through the digestive system, they take about an hour or so to work.
Choosing capsules is a great way to get your CBD intake and it’s incredibly travel friendly, the ideal solution for those who are always on the go.
For consumers who aren’t comfortable using the sublingual drops or those who struggle to swallow capsules, the CBD-infused chewy candies are a yummy way to consume the hemp extract.
Using CBD gummies is also an easy and accurate way of measuring that you are getting the right amount of CBD as each gummy will provide you with an exact dose of CBD (from 10mg to 50mg).
Unlike CBD oil which acts within 20-30 minutes as it gets absorbed into the blood stream, the onset for CBD gummies is about an hour as edibles need to go through the digestive system.
Finally, remember that gummies tend to contain additional ingredients – including sugar and additives. So whilst gummies are a convenient way to get your daily intake of CBD to treat your pain, eating 3-5 gummies each day could have a negative impact on your overall sugar intake! This isn’t always ideal and for that reason, we would always recommend going for CBD oil or CBD capsules whenever possible.
Whilst the team at CBD Unboxed isn’t pro-smoking or pro-vaping, using a vape and inhaling CBD appears to be a great way to get your daily dose of CBD as the heating process occurring whilst smoking increases absorption.
How? By smoking CBD, the active compounds quickly enter the bloodstream via the lungs where they are transported throughout the body. Compared to oral intake such as gummies and capsules, vaping avoids the liver breaking down many of CBD’s beneficial compounds which enhances its potency.
Also, unlike edibles which often contain additional ingredients, the only two ingredients present in CBD vapes and vape juices tend to be cannabinoids and terpenes, natural substances commonly found in herbs, fruits, flowers and plants.
Whilst this seems a great way to get your daily CBD intake, we cannot comment on its use or efficacy as we have not tried vaping products and most research papers to this day have focused on CBD oil.
For the Ultimate Relief: Mix & Match
An excellent option is to combine products.
For example, you may feel a heavy feeling coming onto you or an anxiety attack coming. As soon as the first symptoms appears, you may take a few drops of CBD oil under your tongue. However, CBD oil may take up to 30 minutes to get into your bloodstream and for you to feel the calming effect of CBD. To ease discomfort while waiting, some consumers may use a CBD vape pen which may act faster.
How Much CBD Should You Consume?
CBD doesn’t have one-size-fits-all dosing and calculating a proper dosage of CBD can be tough as our bodies react to it differently.
CBD Dosage Table
We would first recommend using the above CBD dosage table to determine how much CBD you should consume on a daily basis.
The four major factors affecting your CBD dosage are:
- Your weight
- The condition being treated (i.e. depression, chronic pain etc)
- The severity of your condition
- The concentration of CBD oil
Most brands recommend customers start with the lowest dose and increase until they find the right serving size that fits their needs. The most common starting amount is between 10mg and 25mg. For anxiety and depression, the dose can vary from 20mg to 50mg or more.
As a rule of thumb, a person weighting between 10.5 and 17 stones (approximately 150 and 240 lbs) may need between 20mg and 40mg of CBD per day depending on the severity of their symptoms.
When using CBD for the first time, we would always recommend starting with one or two drops of the 3% or 6% CBD oil placed under the tongue (sublingual) and holding it there for at least 30 seconds so it can absorb into the bloodstream.
Taking it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach to see how your body reacts to it is also recommended. If you are not seeing any major benefits with a single drop, increase your intake by a single drop every 2 or 3 days until finding the right balance to treat your personal symptoms.
Finally, as CBD remains a novel food, it is worth noting that the Food Standards Agency (FSA) recommends that healthy adults do not take more than 70mg a day, unless advised by a medical professional.
How Many CBD Oil Drops?
Whilst it may be confusing at the beginning, it’s incredibly simple to work out how many drops of CBD oil you need to take depending on your daily requirements and the strength of the product you bought.
Most bottles of CBD oil contain 10ml of product and come in strengths ranging from 300mg to 2,400mg – also known as 3% and 24% CBD oils. This simply means that in a 1ml drop of the 300mg bottle, you will have 30mg of CBD, whilst the same 1ml of the 2,400mg bottle will give you 8 times that amount for a total of 240mg of CBD.
So assuming you need to hit 25mg of CBD per day with, you will need:
|CBD / Bottle*||CBD / Drop||# Drops|
*Based on 10ml bottles
Assuming you are using the 500mg CBD oil for a daily dose of 25mg, you will need to take approximately 20 drops per day (25mg divided by 1.25mg per drop). You could break this down throughout the day by taking:
- 8 drops first thing in the morning on an empty stomach
- 6 drops early afternoon
- 6 drops at night before going to bed
If however you bought the 2400mg CBD oil for a daily dose of 25mg, you would only need to take 4 drops per day (25mg divided by 6mg per drop), which you could also spread across the day – 2 in the morning, one in the afternoon and one in the evening.
As with everything, start with a small amount of CBD oil daily to make sure there’s no reaction, then increase slowly by a drop every 1-2 days until finding the right balance.
What to Expect when Taking CBD?
First-time users may experience relief immediately, as CBD is brand new to your ECS. However, this does depend on the ailment you are trying to improve. For example, one dose of CBD could relieve pain, reduce anxiety and reduce nausea but it wouldn’t stop seizures, cure your depression or diabetes.
If it took you a long time to get the symptom then the same will be said for reducing, preventing or eliminating it.
Immediate Relief (After 24 hours a noticeable difference is seen):
Pain, Inflammation, Migraines, Nausea, Anxiety, Arthritis, Epilepsy, Glaucoma, Stress, Insomnia, Multiple Sclerosis, PTSD, Rheumatism and Motion Sickness.
Short Term Relief (Noticeable between 2-14 days):
Acne, Inflammation, ADD/ADHD, Anxiety, Arthritis, Epilepsy, Depression, Stress, Insomnia, Multiple Sclerosis, PTSD, Rheumatism, Endocrine Disorders, Obesity, OCD, Spinal Cord Injury and Rheumatism.
Long Term Relief (Noticeable between 2+ weeks):
ALS, Addiction, Alzheimer’s Disease, Asthma, Atherosclerosis, Autism, Bipolar Disorder, Cancer, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Depression, Diabetes, Endocrine Disorders, Fatty Liver Disease, Fibromyalgia, Heart Disease, Huntington´s Disease, Kidney Disease, Metabolic Syndrome, Mood Disorders, Neurodegeneration, Obesity, Parkinson´s Disease, Prion Disease, Schizophrenia and Traumatic Brain Injury.
As you can see from the table above, symptoms which occur quickly can be improved in the same short time frame. Progressive illnesses and their more severe side effects require longer exposure to CBD before a real difference can be seen.
This is just a general guide, literally every single person is different. No one person has the same biology, external factors, ailments and lifestyle.
What are the Side Effects of CBD?
Most people do not experience any side effects when taking CBD as this is a natural product. However, as with everything, some people may experience mild side effects from the hemp extract, including:
- Changes in appetite and weight
The best way to decrease adverse reactions is to simply lower your daily intake of CBD, or if taking CBD oil under the tongue, to mix it with your food and drink to mask the taste and reduce potential side effects as the CBD will be processed by the digestive system – which means slower absorption.
How To Choose Quality CBD?
As with anything you ingest, the source and quality of your CBD products are important. We would always recommend looking at five main aspects before choosing your CBD product.
CBD Oil from Organic Hemp
Hemp can be grown in just the same way as any other plant – mass-produced and using pesticides and GMOs for the greatest profit, or grown organically with care and attention to provide a fantastic end product.
The best CBD is produced from organic hemp that has benefited from plenty of rain during the growing process. While hemp can physically be grown in many countries, it grows best when the temperature is in the low twenties Celsius. Therefore, the location of the hemp farm is important to ensure the optimum environmental factors are accommodated.
And seeing as cannabis plants can be stressed out by the weather, resulting in a higher THC content (above 0.2%), it’s important to ensure that your CBD oil comes from organic hemp which has been grown in the right part of the world.
Less Than 0.2% THC
Cannabis flowers and extracts usually contain two cannabinoids known as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). Yet the exact percentage of each can vary greatly, depending on the plant variety and the growing technique used.
THC is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis that produces the high sensation, while CBD has been associated with health benefits.
The EU common agricultural policy states that cannabis plant can be grown for industrial uses, provided their THC content does not exceed 0.2 %. That’s in the plant, not in the CBD product you buy.
So when buying CBD oil from a shop or online retailer, be sure to check that their products contain less than 0.2% THC.
Clean Extraction Method
Once the hemp is grown and harvested, the CBD needs to be extracted from the plant. There are several methods for doing this, including the use of carbon dioxide (CO2). This produces the cleanest and purest CBD extract but can be expensive to do as the machinery required is not cheap.
Alternative methods include using solvents such as ethanol or plant oils (eg olive oil) to extract the CBD.
This can lead to less-pure CBD extract, as small amounts of solvent or oil can remain, although most companies using this type of extraction method will usually test their CBD extracts to ensure they are solvent free and safe to consume.
Tested by Independent Labs
Another thing we would recommend checking is whether or not your CBD oil has contaminants. That’s because cannabis plants readily absorb heavy metals, pesticides, and other potentially harmful chemicals that may be in the soil or water.
To ensure your CBD oil is free of those harmful chemicals, it should be tested frequently while the hemp is growing, and finished products should also be tested, using validated methods.
The extract should be tested and certified by a third-party laboratory to confirm the quality of the CBD. Organic CBD should be GMO-free, pesticide-free, and as pure as possible. In the UK and EU, CBD must register THC content of 0.2% or lower.
Most reputable companies selling CBD oil in the UK publish their lab results on their website. Below are a few examples of companies that play the transparency card with their customer and share their lab results for each batch of CBD they produce:
Strength to Match your Needs
Finally, the CBD level within any product should be of a suitable strength to match your needs. Every person is different and their body will respond in a slightly different way, so the level may partially be down to personal preference.
However, higher concentrations might be more suitable for treating different ailments to lower concentrations, and it is wise to check the level of CBD in every product you use.
As a rule of thumb, people looking to use CBD for sleep, anxiety, digestion, relaxation or stress might take between 10mg and 25mg of CBD daily and use the lowest strength (300mg to 600mg), whilst those using CBD as a pain relief for conditions such as severe arthritis, back pain or migraines may want to take 30mg to 50mg of CBD per day and use higher concentration products (1200mg to 2400mg).
So remember that CBD oil comes in different concentration and that this will impact how many drops you need to take – for example Blessed 500mg CBD oil (5%) contains 1.25mg of CBD per drop, whilst their 1800mg CBD oil (18%) contains 4.5mg of CBD per drop.
Top 5 CBD Oils for Depression
With over 150 CBD brands on the market, it can be difficult to choose the right CBD product. This is why the CBD Unboxed team has tried and tested all most CBD products and brands available in the UK market and assessed them across 6 key areas:
- Value for Money
- Third Party Certification
- Shipping & Delivery
Based on our findings and whilst every person will be different, we would recommend the below five CBD oils to start with.
Take the CBD Quiz
If after reading this guide you are still unsure about what products to choose to help with manage your depression or anxiety attacks, simply take our CBD Quiz which has been designed specifically to identify the product and strength that is best suited to your personal needs.