Welcome to the third report in our Endoctrenation Series—a series of reports on the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) created by our in-house product education team to investigate the most common personal care concerns, how the ECS is involved, and what technologies can be used to address them. The Cannabis and Mood report dissects the available literature on the ECS and its relationship with everyday mood regulation, ending with tips for toning the ECS to improve mood with cannabis technologies. We also include tips on using psilocybin to improve mood.
- Studies have discovered that chronic stress may suppress the brain’s production of endocannabinoids, which can lead to depression-like behavior.
- The ECS regulates brain homeostasis throughout development. Consequently, loss of ECS control might affect mood disorders and impact neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental disorders.
- Since CBD interacts with a wide variety of molecular targets in the brain, its therapeutic potential is being investigated in a number of neuropsychiatric diseases, including anxiety and mood disorders.
- CBD improves sleep quality, promotes neurogenesis, increases endocannabinoid signalling, and activates serotonin receptors to establish balance and confer its mood-regulating benefits.
- THC binds with CB1 receptors and activates the pleasure center to calm and brighten mood in low doses.
- Psilocybin activates serotonin receptors and dampens the Default Mode Network to confer its anxiolytic and anti-depressant benefits while while promoting neurogenesis and synaptogenesis to repair functional brain connectivity that can cause or exacerbate anxiety, depression, irritability, OCD, and more.
Cannabinoids, namely CBD and THC, have received much attention in recent years because of their ability to ease pain and induce relaxation. They have become widely popular as a treatment for anxiety, and recent research suggests that they may be options for treating depression, along with the active compound in magic mushrooms, psilocybin.
Cannabidiol (CBD) in particular, the most abundant non-intoxicating component of cannabis, is touted for its anxiolytic and antidepressant properties. Since CBD interacts with a wide variety of molecular targets in the brain, its therapeutic potential is being investigated in a number of neuropsychiatric diseases, including anxiety and mood disorders.
Consequently, and given its safety profile, CBD is considered a promising new agent in the treatment of anxiety and mood disorders. However, the exact molecular mechanism of action of CBD still remains unknown.
In the first part of this report, we consider the ECS’s role in mood regulation, including a review of pre-clinical and clinical studies, to identify potential therapeutic targets. Next, we discuss the CBD’s, THC’s, and Psilocybin’s benefits for mood, along with tips on how to include them in your personal care regimen.
Note: Although we sell and love cannabis and mushroom products, we believe in bringing science-backed, repeatable, experimental evidence to the forefront, replacing the unknown with reliable information, so that the fear of the unknown cannot be used as a form of marketing against us. While we understand that there is much to be uncovered, we conscientiously avoid cherry-picking information to further an agenda, choosing instead to trust the many scientists making a monumental effort to evaluate a complete body of evidence pertaining to the safety and efficacy of the products that you know and love.
The Endocannabinoid System’s Role in Mood and Mood Disorders
Responsible for homeostasis, the ECS is a widely distributed network of receptors in the brain and body that modulates many physiological and cognitive functions. It is involved in innumerable mood disorders and its activity may be modified by cannabinoids, from phytocannabinoids like CBD and THC to endocannabinoids (eCB) like Anandamide (AEA) and 2-AG.
What many are unaware of is that the ECS is unlike any other system in your body, supreme to and in control of them all. From childhood to death, it regulates brain homeostasis throughout development, from neurogenesis and synaptogenesis, brain plasticity, and circuit repair to learning, memory, fear, and protection. It is also a major player in the regulation of food intake, energy storage, nutritional status, and adipose tissue (body fat) mass, which implicates it as a treatment for obesity and other weight-related conditions.
Consequently, loss of ECS control might affect mood disorders (anxiety, hyperactivity, psychosis, and depression), lead to drug abuse, and impact neurodegenerative (Alzheimer's, Parkinson, Huntington, Multiple, and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) and neurodevelopmental (autism spectrum) disorders.
It’s important to focus on maintaining a healthy ECS to combat this. To live a better life is to vigilantly maintain your ECS, which can be done through:
- healthy diet selection based on a balanced omega-3 and -6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are essential endocannabinoid (eCB) building blocks
- weekly practice of physical and/or mind-body mindfulness and meditative activities, all of which regulate eCBs levels
- surrounding yourself with a constructive social network
- taking CBD, a diet supplement with anti-inflammatory, anxiolytic, antidepressant, and antioxidant benefits and a major player in toning the ECS
As therapeutically concerned, the ECS is essential for maintaining homeostasis and cannabinoids are promising tools to regulate and balance countless targets.
CBD and mood: Evidence from pre-clinical and clinical studies.
Due to the availability of data and CBD’s safety profile—it is safe for daily use up to 1,500mg with no recorded adverse side effects—this section of the report will focus on CBD.
CBD’s multi-depth calming effects are perhaps its most popular and the reason its use is so widespread. Various independent studies support the view that CBD could represent a new approach to treating anxiety and mood disorders. In this regard, CBD has been tested in several animal models of anxiety and depression, showing promising results in decreasing anxiety and improving depressive-like behaviors. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying these therapeutic-like effects are just beginning to be understood.
In this section of the report, we provide a summary of pre-clinical studies that support the use CBD as an anxiolytic- and antidepressant-like compound. We also describe neuropharmacological evidence that links the molecular pharmacology of CBD to its behavioral effects. Finally, we elaborate on CBD’s putative epigenetic mechanism of action that mediate its therapeutic outcomes. Epigenetics is the study of how your behaviours and environment can change the way your genes work without altering your DNA sequence.
CBD and Mood Disorders: Pre-clinical Rodent Models
The anxiolytic effects of CBD have been highlighted in several rodent models of anxiety (Table 1). The EPM is a widely used experimental method to test anxiety-related behaviors in rodents. In the EPM, CBD has been found to elicit, in both rats and mice, anxiolytic effects at doses of 2.5, 5, 10 mg/kg, and 0.50, 1, 2.5, 5, 10, 50 mg/kg, respectively. The lowest effective acute dose of 1 mg/kg of CBD also exhibited anxiolytic properties in the social interaction (SI) test, in which rats are placed in pairs to measure their sociability, e.g., sniffing and grooming.
CBD effects in animal models of anxiety.
|Animal Model||Animal||Dose/Route of Administration||Effect||Mechanism||Reference|
|EPM||Rats||2.5, 5, 10 mg/kg, acute, i.p.||Anxiolytic||Not investigated||PubMed|
|EPM||Mice||2.5, 5, 10, 50 mg/kg, acute, i.p.||Anxiolytic||Not investigated||PubMed|
|SI||Mice||1 mg/kg, acute, i.p.||Anxiolytic||Not investigated||PubMed|
|VCT||Rats||10 mg/kg, acute, i.p.||Anxiolytic||Not investigated||PubMed|
|Restrain stress||Rats||10 mg/kg, acute, i.p.||Anxiolytic||5-HT1A receptors||PubMed|
|Light- dark test||Rats||5 mg/kg, acute, i.p.||Anxiolytic||Not investigated||PubMed|
|EPM||Rats||30 nmol/µL; intra-dPAG||Anxiolytic||5-HT1A receptors||PubMed|
|ETM||Rats||30 and 60 nmol/µL; intra-dPAG||Anxiolytic||5-HT1A receptors||PubMed|
|EPM/VCT||Rats||1 µg/µL; intra-CeA||Anxiolytic||Not investigated||PubMed|
|EPM/VCT||Rats||30 nmol/µL; intra-BNST||Anxiolytic||5-HT1A receptors||PubMed|
|CFC||Rats||30 and 60 nmol/µL; intra-BNST||Anxiolytic||5-HT1A receptors||PubMed|
|Restrain stress||Rats||30 nmol/µL; intracisternal||Anxiolytic||Not investigated||PubMed|
|CFC||Rats||30 nmol/µL; intra-PL||Anxiolytic||5-HT1A receptors||PubMed|
|EPM||Rats||30 nmol/µL; intra-PL||Anxiogenic||5-HT1A receptors||PubMed|
|EPM||Rats||60 nmol/µL; intra-dPAG|
|ETM||Rats||5 mg/kg/daily/21 days; i.p.||Anxiolytic||5-HT1A receptors||PubMed|
|Chronic Stress||Mice||30 mg/kg; /daily/14days; i.p.||Anxiolytic||Hippocampal Neurogenesis;|
|CER||Rats||10 mg/kg/daily/14 days; i.p.||Anxiogenic||BDNF ↓|
Trk B ↓
EPM: elevated plus maze; SI: social interaction; VCT: Vogel’s conflict test; ETM: elevated T-maze; CFC: contextual fear conditioning; CER: conditioned emotional response; dPAG: dorsal portions of the periaqueductal gray matter; CeA: central nucleus of amygdala; BNST: bed nucleus of the stria terminalis; PL: prelimbic prefrontal cortex; i.p.: intraperitoneal; BDNF: brain-derived neurotrophic factor; TrkB: tyrosine kinase B receptor; ↑: increase; ↓: decrease.
CBD and Mood: Human Studies
In humans, CBD’s therapeutic profile is complex since it acts on various molecular targets, including cannabinoid, TRPV1, and 5-HT1A (serotonin) receptors. Moreover, CBD facilitates endocannabinoid signaling by increasing AEA and 2-AG levels. All these molecular targets have been studied for their involvement in the anxiolytic effects of CBD. For instance, the activation of the 5-HT1A serotonin receptors underlies CBD’s acute anxiolytic effects. The 5-HT1A receptors are widely distributed in brain areas related to stress and anxiety, such as the prefrontal cortex, hippocampus, and amygdala.
On the other hand, high doses of CBD activate TRPV1 receptors, which may be responsible for either no effects or anxiogenic effects, meaning it can actually cause anxiety. That’s because TRPV1 receptors are expressed in various brain regions related to anxiety.
CBD and Mood: The Role of Epigenetics
Although the exact mechanisms responsible for CBD’s anxiolytic effects remain poorly understood, it has been hypothesized that epigenetic modifications may mediate CBD’s effects. Epigenetics refers to mechanisms that can alter gene expression without altering the underlying DNA sequence.
Epigenetic changes have been found to contribute to psychiatric disorders, including anxiety and mood disorders. Moreover, commonly used pharmacological agents for depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety have been shown to induce epigenetic changes that are associated with remission. Epigenetic mechanisms also represent a way by which the environment can affect gene activity independently of the underlying DNA sequence. This is illustrated by early-life stress, a common risk factor for anxiety and mood disorders, which has been linked to aberrant epigenetic changes in key genes involved in regulating the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis response.
CBD and mood: Benefits and how to use it.
Benefits of CBD for Mood
Experts believe that CBD’s potential benefits for mood, anxiety, and depression are related to its positive effect on serotonin receptors in the brain.
Low serotonin levels are likely connected to depression, but CBD doesn’t necessarily boost serotonin levels. Instead, affects how your brain’s chemical receptors respond to the serotonin that’s already in your system. It may be that your body is producing enough serotonin, but isn’t necessarily effective at processing it. But by inhibiting serotonin’s breakdown, CBD allows serotonin levels to accumulate in the brain.
A 2017 review of CBD’s potential benefits for panic disorder found some positive results. According to the authors, panic disorder affects approximately 5 percent of the worldwide population and causes unexpected and recurring panic attacks. A more recent 2018 review of existing studies concluded that CBD has anti-stress effects, which may reduce anxiety and depression related to stress.
Alternatively, studies also show that inadequate sleep or experiencing sleep disturbances significantly effects mood. Sometimes a simple nap can help you bounce back. But what if you experience sleeplessness, or wake up a lot at night?
Research has shown that CBD improves sleep quality by helping you fall asleep faster and keeping you asleep longer. It does so not only by relieving anxiety and regulating cortisol, which interfere with sleep, but by also enhancing the effects of melatonin, the hormone that controls the sleep-wake cycle.
As mentioned, this is an area that’s still being actively studied, and new research and reviews are published every year. As researchers begin to better understand CBD and its potential benefits or concerns, information about how to most effectively use the product will continue to change.
How does CBD compare to anxiolytic and antidepressant medications?
When it comes to treating anxiety and depression, CBD does appear to have some benefits over medications.
Most medications, particularly antidepressants, take weeks to start working. However, a 2019 animal study found that CBD has a fast and sustained antidepressant-like effect.
CBD may also result in fewer side effects than antidepressant medication. Insomnia, sexual dysfunction, mood swings, and agitation are common side effects of antidepressants. CBD has not shown similar issues.
While CBD may offer some benefits over antidepressant medications, it isn’t a replacement. Never stop taking prescribed medication, especially antidepressants, without talking to your healthcare provider first.
Abruptly stopping medication that’s been prescribed to you can cause serious side effects. If you want to stop taking medication, work with your healthcare provider to come up with a plan for gradually decreasing your dosage.
How to Use CBD for Mood
- Start with 20mg CBD per dose in the AM and PM. We recommend Full Spec. CBD or one of our whole-plant hemp-extracted CBD Gummy Bears.
- Assess your mood after 1 week—if you aren’t noticeably more calm, focused, and energized, increase by 5mg per dose.
- Assess your mood after 1 week, repeating steps 2 and 3 until you find your perfect dose.
- For difficult sleepers: Layer with Sleep Solution in CBD or Sleep Solution in CBD + THC, a multi-dimensional formula combining cannabinoids, melatonin, nervines, and peppermint for calm, relaxation, better sleep.
THC and mood: Benefits and how to use it.
Benefits of THC for Mood
THC—it’s why most people try cannabis. The main intoxicating ingredient, THC stimulates the part of your brain that responds to pleasure, like food and sex. That unleashes a chemical called dopamine, which gives you a euphoric, relaxed feeling.
The evaluation of cannabis for mood-related disorders like depression is still in its early stages. Right now, researchers share that benefits may include the restoration of “normal” endocannabinoid function and mood stabilization.
Scientists at the University at Buffalo have begun looking into medicinal cannabis as a possible treatment for depression caused by chronic stress. The school’s Research Institute on Addictions (RIA) has been focusing specifically on brain chemicals called endocannabinoids (eCB).
These are naturally produced chemical compounds. They play a role in motor control, cognition, emotions, and behavior. They also have a chemical makeup like that of cannabis.
Despite performing their studies on animals and not humans, they have discovered that chronic stress may suppress the brain’s production of endocannabinoids. They found that this can lead to depression-like behavior.
So, introducing cannabis into the system may help restore normal levels and function, which in turn can ease symptoms of depression.
As it stands, more studies are needed to assess the true benefits and disadvantages of cannabis as a potential therapy for people with depression. However, what we do know is, thanks to THC’s potent pain-killing and anti-inflammatory mechanisms, those with chronic and inflammatory conditions can live better, happier, more meaningful lives. It also helps those with stubborn sleep issues fall asleep faster and stay asleep.
So, if you’re not sure that THC is for you, but suffer from poor sleep or pain/inflammation, THC may be the perfect add-on to your personal care regimen.
How to Use THC for Mood
- Starting with 2.5mg per dose, take Sativa Oil in the AM / early PM and Indica Oil PM. Drop the oil under your tongue for at least 60 seconds before swallowing.
- Wait 60 minutes to assess effects and take more if needed. Note that THC is anxiolytic (calming) in low doses, but can be anxiogenic (causes anxiety) for some in high doses.
- For optimal results: Layer Full Spec. CBD in the AM for daily calm, focus, and resilience and with Sleep Solution in CBD 1 hour before bed, which combines cannabinoids with melatonin and nervines for multi-depth calm and better sleep.
Psilocybin and mood: Benefits and how to use it.
Benefits of Psilocybin for Mood
In a small study of adults with major depression, Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers report that two doses of the psychedelic substance psilocybin, given with supportive psychotherapy, produced rapid and large reductions in depressive symptoms, with most participants showing improvement and half of study participants achieving remission through the four-week follow-up.
Psilocybin works by activating serotonin receptors, most often in the prefrontal cortex (PFC). This part of the brain affects mood, cognition, and perception and is highly susceptible to stress. Prolonged exposure to stress leads to loss of functional connectivity in the PFC, leading to anxious and depressive symptoms among other mood disorders.
People often take full doses of mushrooms specifically for the “trip” they produce, which might include hallucinations and other changes in perception, including:
- enhanced senses
- expanded emotional or cognitive insight
- meaningful or spiritually significant experiences
While both microdosing and macrodosing can produce these feelings, there are salient differences between the two. For one, microdosing is subperceptual (no visuals or hallucinations), while macrodosing is not. For another, each method produces different outcomes.
For example, there's ample anecdotal evidence and a small amount of research suggesting that microdosing may be the best way to use magic mushrooms for depression, while macrodoing occasionally might be best for anxiety and traumatic brain injuries.
That’s because, by microdosing, Psilocybin exerts its anxiolytic effects to bring calming energy, brighten mood, and enhance focus by activating serotonin receptors. And, by promoting neurogenesis and synaptogenesis in the PFC, processes that are critical for cognitive function, microdosing Psilocybin can reverse the effects of stress on brain health and treat depressive symptoms by re-establishing functional connectivity in the PFC.
On the other hand, macrodosing can catalyze profound, structural brain changes (called neuroplasticity) within hours, changing the way you perceive yourself, your environment, and everything in between. It also significantly decreases Default Mode Network (DMN) activity while increasing connectivity in the rest of the brain. The DMN refers to an interconnected group of brain regions that are associated with introspective functions and internally directed thought, such as self-reflection and self-criticism. It has been found to be particularly overactive in certain mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and OCD, so DMN overactivity is associated with experiences of “hypercriticality,” “rigid thought patterns,” and “automatic negative thought loops” about oneself.
So, if you’re anxious, you may want to experiment with macrodosing. If you’re depressive, then microdosing might be best for you.
In 2016, Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers first reported that treatment with psilocybin under psychologically supported conditions significantly relieved existential anxiety and depression in people with a life-threatening cancer diagnosis.
Today, findings from the new study, published Nov. 4, 2020 in JAMA Psychiatry, suggest that psilocybin may be effective in the much wider population of patients who suffer from major depression than previously appreciated.
“The magnitude of the effect we saw was about four times larger than what clinical trials have shown for traditional antidepressants on the market,” says Alan Davis, Ph.D., adjunct assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “Because most other depression treatments take weeks or months to work and may have undesirable effects, this could be a game changer if these findings hold up in future ‘gold-standard’ placebo-controlled clinical trials.” The published findings cover only a four-week follow-up in 24 participants, all of whom underwent two five-hour psilocybin sessions under the direction of the researchers.
How to Use Psilocybin for Mood
- Take 1–4 capsules of Brain Stack, Immune Stack, or Energy Stack in the AM, 4 days on / 3 days off. Our Stacks can be taken together for synergistic effects.
- After 4 weeks, take a 1–2 week break.
- Repeat steps 1 and 2.
- Macrodose (2g+) with Balanced High or Extended Release for immediate, long-lasting, and durable effects.
An ever-growing body of research suggests that cannabinoids and psilocybin may help relieve mood-related disorders, particularly anxiety, depression, OCD, and trauma. With so many constant sources of stress, people often need a more holistic approach to heal. Even medical doctors have begun suggesting that people combine traditional psychotherapy & pharmaceutical treatments with relaxation techniques like yoga & meditation.
Our products won’t necessarily fix the problem, but they can be reparative to your natural body systems by helping them become more resilient to stress—so you aren’t seized with panic or worry each time.
If you choose to supplement with cannabis or magic mushrooms, it will work best as part of a comprehensive mood treatment plan. A multi-faceted approach is essential to healing and preventing an otherwise good life interrupted by a mood disorder. Determine the correct nutrition and hormone balance for your biochemistry. Work with trauma-informed practitioners to address any negative experiences that may be stored in your body. And for self-exploration, keep tools like Balanced High or other high-quality psilocybin products on hand.
We encourage you to speak first with a trusted medical professional about your plans, especially if you currently take prescription medications. Similar to grapefruits, CBD could interfere with your body’s ability to metabolize drugs. A doctor or integrative practitioner can also help you rule out any contributing deficiencies and other worrisome health issues.
We wish you success on your journey and deep healing for your brain and your body.
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