Image of a brain wearing a stethoscope to represent mental health

CBD and Mental Health

Victoria Hall

World Mental Health Day 2021

As it is World Mental Health Day this Sunday, we have written a handy guide explaining the ways in which CBD can be beneficial to mental health. Of course CBD isn’t be a cure for mental health problems, but it can work with the body to promote a better state of balance known as homeostasis, which refers to stability of your internal environment.

How does it work?

CBD works with cannabinoid receptors that make up the body’s internal Endocannabinoid System (ECS) which was discovered by researchers in the early 1990s. These cannabinoid receptors are found throughout the body. Endocannabinoids bind to them in order to signal that the ECS needs to take action. There are two main endocannabinoid receptors:

  • CB1 receptors, which are mostly found in the central nervous system
  • CB2 receptors, which are mostly found in your peripheral nervous system, especially immune cells

Experts are still trying to fully understand the ECS. But so far, we know it plays a role in regulating a range of functions and processes. Research has linked the ECS to the following processes:

  • appetite and digestion
  • metabolism
  • chronic pain
  • inflammation and other immune system responses
  • mood
  • learning and memory
  • motor control
  • sleep
  • cardiovascular system function
  • muscle formation
  • liver function
  • reproductive system function
  • stress
  • skin and nerve function

How can it help?

By interacting with the body’s internal endocannabinoid receptors, CBD has an impact on all of the processes listed above. This means that stress, anxiety, pain, mood, sleep and many more systems which contribute to mental health can be affected by CBD. Studies have shown CBD could be particularly effective for people with anxiety, and mental health issues exacerbated by sleep issues or pain.

Even for those without specific symptoms, CBD can assist in maintaining a state of bodily wellbeing. The growing body of research on the endocannabinoid system suggests that the endocannabinoid system switches into gear when it senses certain imbalances in the body, and then switches back off once order has been restored to the system.

To reach homeostasis, our bodily systems must find a balance. An example could be; an athlete applies greater stress to their body, leading to pain and inflammation. This is sending homeostasis out of balance; the endocannabinoid system then begins to try to restore balance to the body. Taking cannabinoids as a supplement can assist this process.

The purpose of World Mental Health Day is to raise awareness and reduce stigma of mental health issues. If you are affected by anything in this article, please speak to someone or reach out to your GP.