Hemp and Mental Health: Exploring the Connection

Jeff Yauck | May 4, 2023

Hemp is a plant with myriad uses in agriculture, industry, and healthcare. Recently, its potential to alleviate several common mental health conditions has emerged. This article explores the current research on hemp and anxiety, depression, PTSD, and addiction. But first, let’s look at the science of hemp and how it could benefit mental health.

The Science of Hemp and Mental Health

Hemp contains hundreds of bioactive compounds known as cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. The best-studied of these is a cannabinoid called cannabidiol (CBD). It has multiple physiological targets and is known to have numerous benefits for both body and mind.

CBD exerts many of its effects by influencing the endocannabinoid system (ECS). It comprises a series of cell receptors and signalling molecules, which regulate many of our crucial functions, including learning, memory, appetite, pain perception, inflammation, and more.

The ECS has a complex relationship with several neurotransmitters, including serotonin, glutamate, GABA, and norepinephrine. Therefore, it significantly impacts our mood, emotions, and behaviour.

CBD also directly influences the serotonin system, which plays an essential role in regulating our moods and emotions. Moreover, serotonin has been implicated in the development of many mental health disorders, and most antidepressants work by targeting this neurochemical.

Since CBD alters activity in both the endocannabinoid and serotonin systems, scientists have become interested in hemp extract’s potential as a treatment for certain mental health conditions, such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, and addiction.

We have summarised the current research on CBD and these four common ailments below.

Hemp and Anxiety: Can It Help?

Anxiety is one of the conditions that CBD has been most thoroughly researched for. In a 2011 study, researchers gave 600mg of CBD to 12 participants with social anxiety disorder before asking them to perform a public speaking simulation. A further 12 participants with social anxiety disorder took a placebo and performed the same task, as did 12 healthy control subjects.

The results showed that those who took the CBD had reduced symptoms of anxiety, discomfort, and cognitive impairment during the simulation. Meanwhile, those who took the placebo had increased symptoms compared with the control group.

These results are supported by a 2019 case series, which found that 79% of participants experienced reduced anxiety symptoms within a month of taking CBD. Almost 67% of the participants also experienced improved sleep within the first month of CBD use. Although the sleep scores fluctuated over time, anxiety levels remained lower throughout the duration of the study.

Meanwhile, a 2015 review concluded that CBD could help to improve the symptoms of generalised anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, OCD, and PTSD.

Using Hemp to Combat Depression

There has been less research on CBD and depression, but a 2020 review showed that the compound displayed antidepressant properties in preclinical studies. The researchers suggested that this was due to its impact on serotonin receptors and the ability to help new connections form between brain cells.

A 2022 survey found that 69% of CBD users started taking it because of a depressed mood. The results highlighted that 53% of users said they definitely felt better overall, while 33% said they probably felt better overall since using CBD. Those that reported the greatest improvements in well-being also had the lowest anxiety and depression scores.

Understanding the Impact of Hemp on PTSD

PTSD is notoriously difficult to treat, but CBD has shown some promise. In a 2019 case series, 10/11 patients with PTSD had reduced symptom severity after using CBD for eight weeks, in addition to routine psychiatric care. The average reduction in symptom severity was 28%. One of the key symptoms that CBD seemed to help with was nightmares, a common occurrence in PTSD.

Research suggests CBD could help PTSD by altering how patients process emotional memories. It also appears to reduce anxiety, improve sleep, and diminish trauma responses when recalling distressing memories.

Hemp and Addiction: An Alternative Treatment Option?

CBD might also help people overcome addictions. In a 2013 study, 24 smokers who wanted to quit were given either a CBD inhaler or a placebo inhaler to use at will. Those in the CBD group reduced their cigarette intake by approximately 40%. Meanwhile, cigarette use in the placebo group remained unchanged.

A 2015 review of nine animal and five human studies found that CBD could help cannabis use disorder, tobacco addiction, and alcohol dependency. The authors suggest this is due to the compound’s ability to regulate stress and compulsive behaviour.

These results align with a 2021 review that indicates CBD could help with cannabis use disorder, alcohol dependency, opioid use disorders, and addiction to stimulants, such as amphetamines and cocaine. The potential benefits include reduced withdrawal symptoms, cravings, and anxiety.

Legal Considerations

You cannot buy CBD oil over the counter in Australia yet, but it is legal to buy hemp oil online, provided it contains less than 0.005% THC. THC is the intoxicating compound in cannabis plants, but 0.005% should not cause any mind-altering effects.

When buying hemp oil, be sure that the brand provides independent lab reports to guarantee that its THC levels fall within legal limits. These documents also show that the product is rich in CBD and free from contaminants like heavy metals and pesticides.

Here at Premium Jane, we pride ourselves on producing some of the highest-grade hemp oil on the market. Each item comes with detailed lab reports to confirm its quality, so why not check out our full range and try them yourself today?

Final Thoughts

Hemp contains various bioactive compounds, and high-quality hemp oils might help improve both physical and mental health. Research suggests that anxiety, depression, PTSD, and addiction are some of the conditions that might benefit.

However, choosing a high-quality hemp oil with THC levels well below the legal limit is essential. Therefore, customers should perform due diligence and thoroughly research a company before buying.