Cannabidiol and Mood Disorders

Studies and peer-reviewed research into the effects of CBD and Mood Disorders

Mood Disorders

Multiple mechanisms involved in the large-spectrum therapeutic potential of cannabidiol in psychiatric disorders  

From the abstract:

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a major phytocannabinoid present in the Cannabis sativa plant. It lacks the psychotomimetic and other psychotropic effects that the main plant compound Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) being able, on the contrary, to antagonize these effects. This property, together with its safety profile, was an initial stimulus for the investigation of CBD pharmacological properties. It is now clear that CBD has therapeutic potential over a wide range of non-psychiatric and psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, depression and psychosis. Although the pharmacological effects of CBD in different biological systems have been extensively investigated by in vitro studies, the mechanisms responsible for its therapeutic potential are still not clear. Here, we review recent in vivo studies indicating that these mechanisms are not unitary but rather depend on the behavioural response being measured. Acute anxiolytic and antidepressant-like effects seem to rely mainly on facilitation of 5-HT1A-mediated neurotransmission in key brain areas related to defensive responses, including the dorsal periaqueductal grey, bed nucleus of the stria terminalis and medial prefrontal cortex. Other effects, such as anti-compulsive, increased extinction and impaired reconsolidation of aversive memories, and facilitation of adult hippocampal neurogenesis could depend on potentiation of anandamide-mediated neurotransmission. Finally, activation of TRPV1 channels may help us to explain the antipsychotic effect and the bell-shaped dose-response curves commonly observed with CBD. Considering its safety profile and wide range of therapeutic potential, however, further studies are needed to investigate the involvement of other possible mechanisms (e.g. inhibition of adenosine uptake, inverse agonism at CB2 receptor, CB1 receptor antagonism, GPR55 antagonism, PPARγ receptors agonism, intracellular (Ca(2+)) increase, etc.), on CBD behavioural effects.

 

The endocannabinoid system & the treatment of mood and anxiety disorders 

From the abstract:

The central endocannabinoid system is a neuroactive lipid signalling system in the brain which acts to control neurotransmitter release. The expression patterns of this system throughout limbic regions of the brain ideally situate it to exert regulatory control over emotional behaviour, mood and stress responsivity. A growing body of evidence unequivocally demonstrates that deficits in endocannabinoid signalling may result in depressive and anxiogenic behavioral responses, while pharmacological augmentation of endocannabinoid signalling can produce both antidepressive and anxiolytic behavioral responses. The aim of this review is to summarize current knowledge of the role of the endocannabinoid system in the etiology and treatment of mood and anxiety disorders, such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. Collectively, both clinical and preclinical data argue that cannabinoid receptor signalling may be a realistic target in the development of a novel class of agent for the pharmacotherapy of mood and anxiety disorders.

 

The endocannabinoid system & psychiatric disorders 

From the abstract:

The present review summarizes the latest information on the role and the pharmacological modulation of the endocannabinoid system in mood disorders and its potential implication in psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia. Reduced functionality might be considered a predisposing factor for major depression, so boosting endocannabinoid tone might be a useful alternative therapeutic approach for depressive disorders. The picture regarding endocannabinoids and anxiety is more complicated since either too much or too little anandamide can lead to anxiety states. However, a small rise in its level in specific brain areas might be beneficial for the response to a stressful situation and therefore to tone down anxiety. This effect might be achieved with low doses of cannabinoid indirect agonists, such as blockers of the degradative pathway (i.e. FAAH) or re-uptake inhibitors. Moreover several lines of experimental and clinical evidence point to a dysregulation of the endocannabinoid system in schizophrenia. The high anandamide levels found in schizophrenic patients, negatively correlated with psychotic symptoms, point to a protective role, whereas the role of 2-arachidonoyl glycerol is still unclear. There is a potential for pharmacological manipulation of the endocannabinoid system as a novel approach for treating schizophrenia, although experimental findings are still controversial, often with different effects depending on the drug, the dose, the species and the model used for simulating positive or negative symptoms. Besides all these limitations, SR141716A and cannabidiol show the most constant antipsychotic properties in dopamine- and glutamate-based models of schizophrenia, with profiles similar to an atypical antipsychotic drug.

 

Endocannabinoid system dysfunction in mood and related disorders 

From the abstract:

We propose (hypothesize) that the EC system, which is homoeostatic in cortical excitation and inhibition, is dysfunctional in mood and related disorders. Anandamide, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) variously combine antidepressant, antipsychotic, anxiolytic, analgesic, anticonvulsant actions, suggesting a therapeutic potential in mood and related disorders. Currently, cannabinoids find a role in pain control. Post mortem and other studies report EC system abnormalities in depression, schizophrenia and suicide. Abnormalities in the cannabinoid-1 receptor (CNR1) gene that codes for cannabinoid-1 (CB1) receptors are reported in psychiatric disorders. However, efficacy trials of cannabinoids in psychiatric disorders are limited but offer some encouragement.

 

Effects of CBD on regional cerebral blood flow  

From the abstract:

Animal and human studies have suggested that cannabidiol (CBD) may possess anxiolytic properties, but how these effects are mediated centrally is unknown. The aim of the present study was to investigate this using functional neuroimaging. Regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) was measured at rest using (99m)Tc-ECD SPECT in 10 healthy male volunteers, randomly divided into two groups of five subjects. Each subject was studied on two occasions, 1 week apart. In the first session, subjects were given an oral dose of CBD (400 mg) or placebo, in a double-blind procedure. SPECT images were acquired 90 min after drug ingestion. The Visual Analogue Mood Scale was applied to assess subjective states. In the second session, the same procedure was performed using the drug that had not been administered in the previous session. Within-subject between-condition rCBF comparisons were performed using statistical parametric mapping (SPM). CBD significantly decreased subjective anxiety and increased mental sedation, while placebo did not induce significant changes. Assessment of brain regions where anxiolytic effects of CBD were predicted a priori revealed two voxel clusters of significantly decreased ECD uptake in the CBD relative to the placebo condition (p<0.001, uncorrected for multiple comparisons). These included a medial temporal cluster encompassing the left amygdala-hippocampal complex, extending into the hypothalamus, and a second cluster in the left posterior cingulate gyrus. There was also a cluster of greater activity with CBD than placebo in the left parahippocampal gyrus (p<0.001). These results suggest that CBD has anxiolytic properties, and that these effects are mediated by an action on limbic and paralimbic brain areas.

 

Therapeutic Potential of Cannabinoids in Psychosis

From the abstract:

Over recent years, the interest in the endocannabinoid system (ECS) as a new target for the treatment of schizophrenia has evolved. The ECS represents one of the most relevant neurotransmitter systems in the brain and mainly fulfills a homeostatic role in terms of neurotransmission but also with respect to inflammatory processes. Two main approaches to the modulation of endocannabinoid functioning have been chosen so far. First, the selective blockade or inverse agonism of the type 1 cannabinoid receptor has been tested for the improvement of acute psychotic symptoms, as well as for the improvement of cognitive functions in schizophrenia. This was not effective in either case. Second, the modulation of endocannabinoid levels by use of the phytocannabinoid cannabidiol and selective fatty acid amide hydrolase inhibitors has been proposed, and the antipsychotic properties of cannabidiol are currently being investigated in humans. Unfortunately, for most of these trials that have focused on psychopathological and cognitive effects of cannabidiol, no published data are available. However, there is first evidence that cannabidiol may ameliorate psychotic symptoms with a superior side-effect profile compared with established antipsychotics. In conclusion, several clinical trials targeting the ECS in acute schizophrenia have either been completed or are underway. Although publicly available results are currently limited, preliminary data indicate that selected compounds modulating the ECS may be effective in acute schizophrenia. Nevertheless, so far, sample sizes of patients investigated are not sufficient to come to a final judgment, and no maintenance studies are available to ensure long-term efficacy and safety.

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