Why CBD Helps with Anxiety According to Experts
A big reason why cannabidiol is becoming more and more popular is due to its purported benefits, especially in treating anxiety. CBD can help the user become more relaxed without having to go through most of the psychoactive effects commonly associated with cannabis. Let’s take a look at what experts have to say about CBD being used as a treatment for anxiety.
What is CBD?
Let’s review what CBD is. Cannabidiol is one of the known 113 cannabinoids that naturally occur in the cannabis plant, the other well-known one being tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. While from the same plant, CBD is chemically different from THC.
CBD does not impart the same “high” as THC while also providing numerous health benefits, making it a promising alternative to many pharmaceutical drugs. Early research on the ability of CBD oil to relieve anxiety has been promising.
How CBD Can Decrease Your Anxiety
The human body has numerous receptors, which are protein-based chemical structures in the nervous system that receive signals to stimuli. Among those receptors are those of the human endocannabinoid system, which interact with the cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant.
CBD in particular is known to interact with the CB1 and CB2 receptors in this system. While how CBD affects the CB1 receptors is still not fully understood by medical science, it has been found that they can alter the flow of serotonin, a neurotransmitter responsible for mood, happiness, and feeling of well-being.
Due to that function, serotonin plays a significant role in mental health. Low serotonin levels are known to be present in people who have depression, as well as anxiety in some cases. Therefore, it seems reasonable that if you’re able to increase your serotonin levels, you can decrease your anxiety.
Currently, conventional treatment for depression and anxiety that involve low serotonin levels is through prescription medication known as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, or SSRI. While they can be effective for that purpose, they’re also known for their drastic side effects.
CBD can prove to be a safer and more effective alternative to SSRIs, although it will take more studies to make sure that it actually is as effective as hoped. Also, it’s still advised that you talk to your doctor before introducing CBD to your anxiety treatment.
Research on CBD for Anxiety
There are now several studies that prove the effectiveness of CBD in relieving anxiety. For instance, the National Institute on Drug Abuse did a study on rats that were given CBD, and it saw a reduction of stress in them. Physiological symptoms of anxiety, such as increased heart rate and muscle tension, were also alleviated.
CBD can also benefit people with social anxiety disorder (SAD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as anxiety-induced insomnia. A 2011 study focused on the effects of CBD on people with SAD saw participants who took an oral dose of 400mg of CBD got a more reduced level of anxiety compared to placebo.
Meanwhile, multiple studies have recently shown how CBD can help ease PTSD symptoms such as recurrent nightmares and flashbacks. They looked into CBD as both standalone treatment and supplement to traditional treatments such as medication and cognitive behavioral therapy, and it has shown great promise in both.
A 2017 literature review on CBD and psychiatric disorders made the conclusion that more evidence is needed before CBD can be seen as effective for treating depression. However, they did get some positive results for its role in treating anxiety disorders, although these studies were done without a control group that got either a different treatment or a placebo.
Meanwhile, a 2016 study yielded potential for CBD being used for treating psychosis in people with schizophrenia. They have also looked into CBD as treatment for neurological disorders. The great thing about this is that CBD has no significant harmful side effects that are usually present in conventional antipsychotic drugs.
A study from 2015 showed that CBD doesn’t just interact with cannabinoid receptors, but also the serotonin 5-HT1A receptor and other receptors in the brain that are known to regulate fear, anxiety, and other related feelings and behaviors.
It also found preclinical and clinical evidence for CBD being helpful in treating various types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and social anxiety disorder.
The most recent one was a 2020 study that was held in New Zealand, where 397 adults were given medical CBD for various ailments, including pain, cancer symptoms, neurological symptoms, and mental health issues. All groups were able to report improvements in their quality of life after three weeks of taking CBD.
Moreover, those who took CBD for anxiety or depression reportedly experienced improvements in mood, well-being, and ability to be productive in their daily lives. Their symptoms of pain, anxiety, and depression were significantly reduced through CBD treatment.
Around 70% of them said they were satisfied with the CBD treatment, while 9.9% experienced adverse side effects like sedation and vivid dreams. Only 0.8% of them reported that CBD actually worsened their symptoms.
As you can see, most of these studies were done during the 2010s. That’s because it’s only now when people are starting to actually take cannabis more seriously as medicine. When they realized that there’s a part of cannabis that’s not psychoactive, the plant started to transcend its stereotypical reputation of being a drug that turns people into stoners.
Best Way to Take CBD for Anxiety
There are various forms of CBD available, giving people options on their preferred delivery method. There are oils, tinctures, vapes, edibles, and so on, each with their own distinct advantages.
One of the most popular methods is sublingual administration, which is putting a couple of drops of CBD tincture under the tongue and holding it there for 30 seconds before swallowing. It takes a reasonable amount of time to take effect and stays there for a number of hours.
For acute anxiety attacks, you may want something that takes effects right away. That’s where a CBD vape pen comes in. You can take a draw and the CBD will take effect within 10 minutes or less. It doesn’t have the same staying power, but it will help with anxiety in a pinch.
If you’re looking for something that lasts for most of the day, edibles are a good choice. Eating something like CBD gummies is perhaps the easiest way to take CBD, and it also lasts the longest. While it does take about an hour to digest and take effect, its effects will last for several hours.
More and more research has been coming out about how CBD can help relieve stress and anxiety. It doesn’t just make you feel better, but it can also do wonders for your mental health.
However, the FDA still does not regulate CBD for anxiety treatment, so there are no definite guidelines on dosages and which products are legitimate. Right now, the quality of products and proper dosages vary between brands, manufacturers, and hemp sources.
There’s also how CBD can interact with other supplements and prescription medication. It’s recommended to consult a doctor before using CBD to make sure that it doesn’t get in the way of whatever you’re already taking.