"In light of this finding, we believe cannabidiol rapidly triggers neuroplastic mechanisms that help repair the neuronal circuitry that gets damaged in depression," study author Samia Joca from Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies, Netherlands, and the University of São Paulo, Brazil, said in a statement.
What's more, a second study, published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, suggests that CBD also effects the neuroplastic mechanisms in the hippocampus, which is, again, associated with depression in people.
While this is all extremely encouraging, the results so far have only been proven in rodents. The researchers will have to take the study to human trials to confirm CBD's efficacy in people, but they remain optimistic that this discovery could pave the way for more effective antidepressants in the future.
Currently, there are more than 300 million people affected by depression globally and, if the latest stats are anything to go by, this figure is only rising. While anti-depressants are an effective and invaluable treatment for millions of people worldwide, they don't always work. The researchers hope that CBD may offer a solution.
"We're studying whether cannabidiol would also be effective in patients who don't respond to conventional therapy and whether combining it with antidepressants would improve their symptoms," said Joca.
She added, "there's a possibility that combining cannabidiol with SSRIs [selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors] might allow the latter to be used in lower doses, perhaps reducing their adverse side-effects while maintaining the therapeutic effect of higher doses."