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The Northern Hemisphere is coasting into the end of winter and like most people you've probably already experienced some degree of mood disorder by this time of the season. Short days with limited sunlight and harsh, cold weather can really effect people. We know that 2 to 3% of Canadians will experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in their lifetime. Another 15% will experience a milder form of SAD that leaves them only slightly depressed, but still able to live their life without major disruptions.
SAD is a recurring onset of depressive symptoms that happens around the same time every year. SAD is not only a winter phenomenon. Summer time has its own set of symptoms stemming in part from changes in weather. It is believed that winter time SAD results from reduced exposure to sunlight, therefore vitamin D, in the short days and long nights of winter months.
Winter SAD symptoms include:
For more severe or diagnosed SAD conventional treatments include Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and counselling with a health professional to help change the world view and coaching to break the negative patterns of depression including the thoughts and actions that can keep the depression going. Currently available pharmacological treatments include various antidepressant drugs often help to improve well-being, mood and functioning by increasing the levels of serotonin, the feel-good neurotransmitter in the brain.
My go-to natural remedy for anxiety and depression is Cannabidiol (CBD), the second most known about and studied phytocannabinoid found in the cannabis flower, after THC (∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol).
CBD is a non-psychoactive powerhouse in terms of promoting a healthy state of being because of its relationship with the endoCannabinoid (eCB) System, an important physiologic system in our bodies, who's primary function is to promote and maintain a state of health in the body. Unlike THC and other cannabinoids CBD is not a key for the CB receptor locks, but it appears to stimulate other types of neurotransmitters and interact with serotonin receptors leading to its anxiolytic effects.
CBD has broad therapeutic properties across a range of neuropsychiatric disorders, stemming from diverse central nervous system actions. Recently, CBD has attracted increasing interest as a potential anxiolytic treatment. Though CBD's efficacy of treating various ailments is still unproven, studies on Cannabidiol treatment for Anxiety Disorders reveals promising potential for treating SAD.
Medicating with CBD is super easy and accessible to most people as its well tolerated across a wide dose range, up to 1500 mg/day administered orally, with no psychomotor slowing or impairment, negative mood effects, or vital sign abnormalities that might be expected with THC. CBD interacts with only a few prescription medications so it's generally considered safe. Learn more about CBD dosing at Projectcbd.org
Folks with no CBD/cannabis experience, cannabis-curious & low tolerance:
For those that are able to tolerate THC, a full spectrum cannabinoid tincture that includes THC in lower ratio to CBD are thought to be most effective because CBD and THC occur together naturally and are designed to work together therapeutically, also known as the Entourage Effect. Individual sensitivity is the guide to the correct CBD:THC ratio. The good news is CBD mediates THC, meaning it can also mitigate adverse effects caused by too much THC, such as anxiety and rapid heartbeat, so you really can't take too much!
If you're feeling like the February Blah's are creeping in there's no better time than now to try CBD to thaw your winter blues. CBD is personalized medicine and will most likely require individual experimentation but I hope I've given you a good idea about how to get started working with CBD to address seasonal depression. A cannabis wellness professional can give you all the support you need to integrate CBD into your self-care routine.
Karolina Kluska is a Vancouver, BC based Holistic Nutritionist and Cannabis Counsellor who is excited to help connect people with the health and lifestyle benefits of cannabis. For personalized guidance on how to incorporate cannabis into your wellness routine go to wiseherbs.ca
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