Written By Samantha Carter

In recent years, cannabidiol (CBD) has garnered significant attention for its potential therapeutic benefits, particularly in mental health. Derived from the cannabis plant, CBD is one of over 100 cannabinoids present in the herb, along with other strains such as Delta-8, Delta-9, and THC-A. But does CBD, along with these other strains, truly offer relief for mental health conditions? Let’s delve into the topic.

Understanding CBD and Other Cannabinoids

CBD is a non-intoxicating compound found in cannabis plants known for its potential therapeutic effects. Unlike its counterpart, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC – aka marijuana), CBD does not produce the psychoactive effects commonly associated with cannabis. Rather, it interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which plays a crucial role in regulating various physiological processes.

The Basics of the Endocannabinnoid System

To understand the potential effects of CBD and other cannabinoids on mental health, it can be helpful to explore the basics of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). A complex network of receptors, endocannabinoids, and enzymes, the ECS plays a crucial role in regulating things like mood, appetite, pain sensation, memory, and more. The ECS consists of three primary components.

Cannabinoid Receptors

Cannabinoid receptors are primarily found in the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. These receptors are activated by endocannabinoids naturally or by the cannabinoids found in cannabis plants.


Endocannabinoids are naturally occurring cannabinoids produced by the body. These molecules bind to cannabinoid receptors to regulate various physiological functions, helping to maintain harmony within the body.


Enzymes are responsible for synthesizing and breaking down endocannabinoids for your body’s use. Essentially, the ECS acts as a regulatory system, helping to balance and adapt various bodily functions in response to internal and external stimuli. According to a 2013 study, when the ECS becomes dysregulated, it can contribute to several health conditions, including mood disorders, chronic pain, inflammation, and more.

CBD and Mental Health

Many people are now turning to CBD and other cannabinoids as an alternative or supplement to traditional mental health therapies. Research on the effects of CBD for mental health is still in its early stages. However, some studies have shown promising results. Some anecdotal evidence from a 2021 study suggests CBD may help alleviate symptoms associated with anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other mental health conditions.

Other significant findings include:

  • A systematic review on the therapeutic role of cannabidiol in mental health found that “CBD and CBD-containing compounds … were helpful in alleviating symptoms of cannabis-related disorders, schizophrenia, social anxiety disorder, and comorbidities of ASD, and ADHD.”
  • A 2019 review published in The Permanente Journal found that CBD may have potential as a treatment for anxiety-related disorders, citing its anxiolytic and antidepressant properties.
  • Another study published in Frontiers in Immunology in 2018 suggested that CBD could modulate the body’s stress response and help reduce symptoms of PTSD.

While CBD has shown promising results in the treatment of mental health, it’s essential to note that individual responses can vary, and more research is needed to fully understand its efficacy and safety for mental health conditions.

Legal Status and Research

As of 2024, CBD derived from hemp containing less than 0.3% THC is legal at the federal level in the United States. However, the legal status of other cannabinoids varies from state to state, with some states legalizing the use of cannabis for medical and/or recreational purposes. It’s important to understand the legal ramifications of cannabis use before considering it as an alternative mental health treatment.

Interactions and Considerations

Before utilizing CBD or other cannabinoids as a treatment for mental health conditions, you’ll want to consult with a healthcare professional, particularly if you’re taking other medications. CBD can interact with certain pharmaceutical drugs, potentially impacting their effectiveness or causing adverse effects. Additionally, individuals with certain medical conditions, such as liver disease, should use caution when using CBD due to its potential effects on liver enzymes.

Exploring Alternative Mental Health Treatments

While CBD and other cannabinoids may offer some benefits for mental health, they are just one piece to the puzzle. Today, there are many different approaches to consider. While traditional therapies like psychotherapy and pharmaceuticals remain the cornerstone of mental healthcare, more and more people are finding that adopting a holistic approach to mental wellness is helping them find and sustain lasting relief.

Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

Deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (dTMS) is a non-invasive procedure that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells associated with mental health. By modulating activity in targeted areas of the brain, individuals who haven’t responded to traditional treatments alone can find lasting and therapeutic relief.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized room or chamber. While traditionally used for various medical conditions, studies have explored its potential in alleviating symptoms of depression and other mental health disorders.

Ketamine-Assisted Therapy

Once primarily known as an anesthetic, ketamine has gained recognition in recent years for its transformative effects on traditional treatment-resistant mental illness in the form of ketamine-assisted therapy. According to a 2018 study, controlled administration of low-dose ketamine by company with a licensed mental health professional can cause

  • Positive changes in neurochemistry
  • Increased neuroplasticity
  • Enhanced mood regulation

The results of this treatment often manifest within hours to days, whereas conventional pharmaceuticals may take weeks.


Neurofeedback involves real-time monitoring of brain activity through electrodes placed on the scalp. Individuals are trained to regulate their brainwaves with the goal of increasing patterns associated with improved mood and emotional regulation.

Stellate Ganglion Block

Stellate ganglion blocks (SGB) involve injecting a local anesthetic into the stellate ganglion, a cluster of nerves in the back of the neck. Originally used for pain management, SBG has shown promise in treating symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Studies suggest stellate ganglion blocks may modulate the sympathetic nervous system, thus alleviating symptoms related to trauma and other mental health conditions.

Meditation and Mindfulness

Many different studies have highlighted the numerous benefits of meditation and mindfulness on our physical and mental health. Best of all, it’s completely free and we can do it anywhere at any time.


Acupuncture, an ancient Chinese medicinal practice involving the insertion of small, thin needles to stimulate various energy (chi) throughout the body, has also been shown to provide immense benefits and relief to people suffering from mental illness.

Of course, there are many other alternative and/or supplemental therapies for mental health that haven’t been discussed in this article. Regardless of your mental health treatment approach, it’s important to explore it under the guidance of a qualified mental health professional, such as a therapist or psychiatrist.

CBD – Is It Right For Me?

While only you and your healthcare provider can answer whether CBD is right for you, it might be worth exploring. CBD, along with other alternative mental health therapies, show promise as potential complements to traditional mental health treatments. Still, more research is needed to fully understand its efficacy and safety.

By consulting with a healthcare professional to develop a comprehensive treatment plan, you can find the therapies that are best for you. The important thing to remember is to reach out for help. Don’t try to do it all on your own or self-medicate. By working with a mental health professional who specializes in the blending of alternative and traditional approaches, you can incorporate long-standing and emerging therapies in safe and effective ways.

Holistic Mental Healthcare at Plus by APN

If you’re looking for a unicorn of a mental health service where you can dig into a variety of traditional and/or alternative treatments for mental wellness, you’ll want to check out Plus by APN. From in-person and virtual therapy to psychiatry services, medication management, deep TMS, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, ketamine-assisted therapy, neurofeedback, stellate ganglion block, and more, our providers are here to help you find the plan that is right for you. If you’re interested in learning more about our services and holistic approach to mental healthcare, book a free consulation today.


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