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CBD and depression

For each of us to have electricity and all the comfort linked to it (wifi, heating, hot water, dishwasher) in our homes we depend on the efficiency and good communication of a coordinated network that involves power plants, companies, people, raw materials and many other factors.

When there is a failure in any of these factors, part or all of the supply system can be affected, preventing us from having access to this infrastructure, which generates stress and involves leaving the comfort zone for a few hours or days until a solution is presented to return to "normal".

The same happens with the human body, where the central generator is our brain, which does the feedback and regulation by the nervous system of each existing cell. When there is any need or failure in any part of our organism, our cells communicate in a chemical and electrical language, until their demands reach the central, where the orders are processed to execute the best option in the most efficient way.
at that time to balance the system.

The myriad functions and differentiation of the brain have been in development for thousands of years for us to be reading and understanding this article right now.

But for a little more than a century our species has been studying it. We know that approximately 1251.8 cm 3 of the mass that makes up the brain is "divided" into two hemispheres, left and right, yin and yang, logical and intuitive, conscious and unconscious. This gray mass, connected with our spinal cord, the bulb, the cerebellum, the brainstem and cranial nerves form the Central Nervous System (CNS) through which all the information of the body flows.

All these "parts" of the CNS are composed of specific cells, called neurons 1 [Figure 1]. Being the axon, that long filament is the main one, the major difference between the neuron and the other cells we find in the body. The area between the end of one neuron and the receptor of another is what we call synapses, and they are commanders of all the physiological, motor and sensory reactions we experience.

Figure 1 - Illustration of a neuron

A neuron can share more or less 10 thousand synapses, which are activated by the action of neurotransmitters, in turn influenced by neuromodulators. In other words, neurotransmitters are molecules synthesized and stored in the neuron, and are released only when the neuron is stimulated. These neurotransmitters are simple molecules, such as acetylcholine, serotonin, dopamine, adrenaline, noradrenaline, histamine.

But what does all this kind of biology have to do with depression? And the effects of CBD, how can it help me?

They have everything in common, and much more than we imagine. Just as in the supply of the city, when there is a decrease, increase or absence of any or several of these molecules, the body points out subtle or alarming signals in the way it relates to people, to oneself and to the things that surround it.

Depression, also called the "seculus malady" by many psychologists, is related to the decrease of serotonin activity. The serotonergic neurons that synthesize and release 5-HT, another name for this monoamine, influence the regulation of mood, sleep, libido, the formation of the vascular system, the creation and maintenance of bone tissue and all emotional behavior in our body.
Let's digress - The Second Law of Thermodynamics says that all systems tend towards disorder, towards chaos. If you close your eyes for a moment (after reading this paragraph), and begin to imagine how many molecules are being released, modified and destroyed right now, you might perceive that in order to maintain the apparent tranquility you feel, internally, at the cellular and chemical level, your organism lives in chaos. In other words, our system lives a subtle and delicate balance so that we live in "normality".

On this subject, there is a charming phrase of the wise teacher of Hatha Yoga, Hermogenez (Figure 2) that says: "God, deliver me from being normal". Commenting on this supposed normality in which society lives, in terms of consumption, superficial relationships, oppression of feelings and our real nature is not an absolute truth. We must look within ourselves, and evaluate our own ethics.

Figure 2 - Professor Hermogenes, Doctor in Yogatherapy by the World Development Parliament of India, Doctor Honoris Causa by the Open University for Complementary Medicine and the reference as a diffuser of Yoga in Brazil.

Even so, there is a social charge and judgment about compartments and states of mind that fall out of the pattern or are different from the projections reflected on each other. Psychic normality and abnormality being absolutely non-consensual concepts in academic, clinical and practical terms. 

Still, psychopathology is in charge of studying abnormal behaviors such as those that make a person's daily life difficult in a practical way. It is also fundamental to take into account that depression was explained at the beginning of this article based on biological criteria, but it can also be analyzed by statistical, clinical2social, interpersonal and intra-psychic. The look for any one of those strands, not just for depression, as for any disorder, are a subject of study for a lifetime. 

    The WHO estimates that depression affects more than 3.3 billion people in the world today, being more common in women, Figure 3 is the map of the disorder by country from the 2017 Our World in Data. People in this condition have their performance affected at work or school, in their general way of coping with everyday life and in the most severe cases it can lead to suicide. The disorder is characterized by the presence and persistence of sadness, difficulty sleeping, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or lack of self-worth, and lack of concentration.

Figure 3 - Number of people with depression by country, 2017 by Our World in Data.

In a more current scenario, a study of more than 5,000 people carried out by the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona and published in the Journal of Affective Disorders showed that 65% of the Spanish population has symptoms of depression and anxiety due to the consequences of COVID-19. We are still living in the shadow of the pandemic generated by this virus that, apart from the direct effects on health, has also generated indirect effects on the economy, on our mental health and our lifestyle in general.

It is no coincidence that in the same period we can observe a considerable increase in the interest of people and companies in products derived from cannabis and mainly in cannabidiol (CBD), leading the subject to be debated even by international legislative bodies, as was expected many years ago. 

 In December 2020 the World Health Organization (UN) removed Cannabis from Schedule IV of narcotic drugs, after a vote among 53 countries, and also recognized the medicinal and therapeutic potential of the plant. According to UN recommendations, CBD should not be subject to international controls once it has a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) level below 2%. For many cancer treatments and other diseases, the synergy between THC, CBD and other cannabinoids is essential to obtain improvements in patients' conditions, always with the support of health professionals who are experts in cannabis treatments. Still, in depression treatments, it is advisable to avoid products with high concentration of THC, which can increase the risk of anxiety and paranoia. 

Therefore, for the treatment of depression, more and more scientific studies indicate that CBD, the non-psychoactive cannabinoid, is a fast-acting antidepressant alternative. Its single or long-term administration increases serotonin levels, by promoting a lasting improvement of synaptic efficiency in serotonergic neurons. 

In addition, research is increasingly devoted to understanding how CBD acts in the body. endocannabinoid systemThe use of CBD, its anxiolytic, antiepileptic, antipsychotic effects and the optimal doses for each case. Thanks to the very low toxicity of the molecule, side effects are not relevant, but it is essential to compare the doses administered by CBD users with clinical and kinetic data to promote more and more qualified information on the subject for people who use CBD.

Despite all the advances in biology and neuroscience about depression, its physiology, relationship with our behaviour, learning and memories, there are still many mysteries to unveil about how every living being processes its experiences and interacts with that Universe. Thus, the combination of the use of CBD, its physiological benefits, combined with other therapies (psychotherapies, art therapy, yoga and other alternative therapies) and a healthy lifestyle are recommended to gently cross "abnormal" stages of life. 

In the end, the treatment of depression with these tools is a process of self-knowledge that allows the investigation of our physical body, our self-control, emotional expression and communication of each individual with oneself, with other beings and with nature. 

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