The growing legalization of medical cannabis raises many questions to researchers about the effectiveness of the different cannabinoids on medical conditions. One cannabinoid in the spotlight is cannabidiol (CBD). Preclinical evidence suggests that CBD is an effective therapeutic substance that can provide relief to multiple conditions, including various anxiety disorders. Keep reading to learn more about how CBD may benefit your anxiety.
What Is Anxiety?
Anxiety is your body’s natural defense mechanism. Think of it as your fight or flight response. It’s generally a feeling of apprehension or fear about the future. However, if your feelings associated with anxiety become extreme, last longer than six months, and begin to interfere with your everyday life, you may have an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety disorders are prevalent and can happen to anyone and at any age. If you constantly feel that feeling of fear to the point where it affects your everyday life, you may have an anxiety disorder.
There are several different types of anxiety disorders, including but not limited to:
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Panic Disorder
- Social anxiety disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Separation anxiety disorder
- Illness anxiety disorder
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
So, why is it so important that we find a suitable treatment of anxiety disorders? According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, more than 40 million adults in the U.S. suffer from some form of anxiety disorder. With that many people suffering from a crippling illness, it’s paramount that we find safe and effective ways to treat these conditions.
What is Cannabidiol (CBD)?
CBD is one of the chemicals in the cannabis sativa plant. Many producers extract their CBD from hemp plants, where THC levels are known to be very low. This means that CBD will not cause you to feel intoxicated as THC will. CBD is thought to interact with two different receptors within the human body. These are the CB1 and CB2 receptors. It’s not precisely known how CBD interacts with CB1. However, evidence suggests that it may alter serotonin signals. While low serotonin levels are typically associated with depression, they can also cause exaggerated anxiety. Conventional treatment for anxiety disorders typically includes using an SSRI or a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. These are only available through prescription and can come with several side effects. People looking for alternative options may be able to manage their anxiety with CBD instead.
What Do the Studies Say?
Two 2011 studies found that CBD can reduce anxiety symptoms in people with social anxiety disorder, while a 2015 review of 49 studies found evidence that suggests CBD could help with various other anxiety disorders including, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
In one 2019 study, researchers used 300-600mg of CBD on participants and found it significantly reduced anxiety symptoms. This particular study pointed out that the dosage a person takes to relieve anxiety depends on the CBD product and how it is administered.
Another 2019 study utilized smaller doses of CBD (25mg, 50mg, and 75mg) because researchers believed the higher amounts of CBD would be too expensive for the typical patient to maintain. Overall, anxiety decreased within the first month and remained low. Sleep quality also appeared to improve. Although, it did fluctuate more than anxiety. Only three patients recorded side effects.
A 2020 study evaluated 397 adults in New Zealand. The participants received a CBD prescription for a variety of ailments including, non-cancer pain, cancer-related symptoms, neurological symptoms, and mental health symptoms. All groups, including those suffering from mental health problems, reported improved quality of life after three weeks of treatment. Those who received CBD for anxiety and/or depression experienced improvements in their abilities to perform daily tasks and reduce pain and symptoms. Only 9.9% of participants experienced adverse side effects, such as sedation or vivid dreams, and 0.8% reported worsening symptoms.
Overall, many studies suggest that CBD is an effective treatment for multiple forms of anxiety disorder. However, more research is needed to help us better understand what doses and forms of CBD are the most effective while causing the most negligible side effects.
CBD Side Effects
CBD is known to cause very few side effects. Some patients treated with Epidiolex (100% pure CBD) experienced side effects such as drowsiness, fatigue, decreased appetite, insomnia, and diarrhea. CBD may also interact with different medications, like antidepressants, benzodiazepines, antihistamines, opioids, antipsychotics, and calcium channel blockers. However, more research is needed to know to what extent CBD interacts with these types of medications.
If you’re worried about CBD becoming habit-forming, have no fear. The World Health Organization has stated that CBD does not appear to be habit-forming and to cause any dependence as seen with drugs of abuse. However, it is pertinent to remind you that some CBD products may contain small amounts of THC.
Should You Try CBD For Your Anxiety?
There is a lot of supporting evidence that CBD does help treat anxiety disorders. However, it’s essential to take all medical advice that’s not from your doctor with a grain of salt. If you are interested in what CBD can do for you, we recommend that you talk with a trusted health professional about the use of medical cannabis and if it’s right for you.
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