CBD-Bunked. 5 Do’s & Don’ts of the Mental Health Cannabinoid Craze

If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past few years, you have most likely been introduced to the idea of the magical Cannabinoid “cure-all”, called CBD oil. This potent elixir, made from distilled marijuana flowers and leaves, has been lauded for its ability to treat all sorts of ailments, from epileptic seizures to mental illness. Promising research from reputable sources (1) has especially recognized CBD oil for its ability to reduce anxiety and promote restful sleep—leading to a widespread craze for this under-researched substance.

But does CBD oil really live up to its fanatical claims?

The answer is: Well, sort of.

It is true that CBD oil has many benefits and can naturally treat the symptoms of many mental health issues, like anxiety and PTSD. According to the Mayo Clinic (1), a recent synthesis of scientific articles supports the validity of it benefits and effectiveness. One study (2) in particular states that Cannabidiol worked to normalize the limbic system in rats, a system in the brain responsible for our most primal emotions, like fear. Participants in the study found relief due to Cannabidiol’s ability to calm the limbic system down.

But, we can’t all just go out and buy up all the CBD oil because of it. You see, what these articles and ads don’t tell you is this: Picking the right product and knowing how to use it is tricky business. But, knowing these things can make the difference between wellness and wasted money. Luckily, we have a cheat sheet to help you navigate the high TH-seas.

#1: Do Get a Professional Mental Health Evaluation To Determine If CBD oil Is Right For You

In an age when information is readily available at your fingertips, our electronic devices have become our go-to source for information of all kinds—including medical advice. This newfound power is dangerously turning us all into virtual doctors, of sorts. But, only a qualified mental health professional can help you determine if your particular issue warrants the use of CBD oil as well as whether or not you are a candidate for it. The Internet does not replace the expertise of trained, integrative, mental health clinicians who can sift through your individual symptoms with a fine-toothed comb and figure out what is really going on underneath the symptoms. Every person is unique and a tailored, holistic approach to wellness is the best way to treat the whole, individual person both safely and effectively.

#2: Don’t Believe That All CBD Oils Are Created Equal

Once you and your provider determine CBD is right for you, its time to chose a product. There are many kinds of CBD and many mediums to take it. Even within the same medium, there is considerable variability in the process, ingredients, and potency from one brand to the next. And although CBD oil affects everyone a little differently, the more likely culprit for the variability in its effectiveness lies within its lack of regulation. Because CBD oil is actually considered a food and not a drug, it is not regulated in the same way that prescription drugs are. That means, it’s the wild wild west when it comes to getting this product up on the shelves—and in the wild, wild west, anything goes. Some less reputable companies cut corners, use dangerous chemicals to reduce cannabinoid extraction costs, obscure poor quality cannabis sources, and are not required to lab test their product for effectiveness and safety by law. When you choose a CBD product, make sure the CBD oil you are purchasing is organic, has 0% THC, lists all of its ingredients and their sources, has independent third party lab testing results available to you, and identifies as being made using a clean extraction process. This can help to protect your safety and optimize the effectiveness of your product.

#3 Do Understand That CBD Oil Does Not Work In A Vacuum

The effectiveness of CBD oil depends on the quality of the product and how conducive your body’s environment is to accepting and utilizing CBD. Anything from the delivery medium of the CBD extract to a lack of Omega-3 Fatty Acids (3) in the body can affect the effectiveness of CBD treatments. For this reason, it is often dangerous and wasteful to experiment on your own. A health care professional knowledgeable in complementary and alternative mental health medicine can help you determine if your CBD oil is a quality product and if your body needs any synergistic supplements to help optimize the delivery and uptake of your CBD oil.

#4 Don’t Keep Your Side Effects To Yourself

Just because CDB oil is a natural product doesn’t mean that it is devoid of side effects. CBD oil has been known to cause tiredness, weight gain, and appetite changes, as well as diarrhea in patients—further adding insult to injury for those looking for a natural solution to their anxiety symptoms. Some CBD products also can have dangerous ingredients that affect consumers in unsafe ways. That’s why it is important to get a full evaluation before starting any natural treatment and being open in your communication of how the treatment is affecting you. Always report all side effects and disclose all current supplements and medications to your health care professional so they can adequately instruct you on how to achieve wellness and protect you from products that are not safe and effective for you.

#5 Do Pair Your CBD Treatments With Traditional Counseling

The holistic way of achieving health and wellness aims to reduce your symptoms by getting to the root-cause of your troubles. Taking CBD oil alone does not cure your anxiety. But, it can help reduce your symptoms so that you can focus all your mental energy on the real soul work of getting to the bottom of your anxious thoughts—instead of spending it on managing your symptoms. Find a qualified mental health professional who understands both functional mental health medicine and traditional mental health practices to help you achieve a total sense of wellness.

1 VanDolah, H., Bauer, B., & Mauck, K. A Clinician’s Guide To Cannabidiol And Hemp Oils. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 2019;94 (9); 1840–1851

2 Ren, Y., Whittard, J., Higuera-Matas, A., Morris, C.V., Hurd, Y.L. Cannabidiol, a nonpsychotropic component of cannabis, inhibits cue-induced heroin seeking and normalizes discrete mesolimbic neuronal disturbances. J Neurosci. 2009;29:14764–14769

3. Larrieu, T., Madore, C., Joffre, C., & Layé, S. (2012). Nutritional n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids deficiency alters cannabinoid receptor signaling pathway in the brain and associated anxiety-like behavior in mice. Journal of Physiology and Biochemistry, 68(4), 671-81.

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