CBD Against Anxiety
Every day, 40 million Americans struggle with anxiety. This state of near-constant worry, fatigue, and restlessness can have a negative impact on everyday life, compromising the mind and body. Symptoms range from heightened blood pressure to insomnia to difficulty concentrating.
The traditional treatment options have been therapy and prescription medications. This can be very costly, and some prescription meds can have adverse side effects. Enter: Cannabidiol (CBD), one of more than 100 different chemical compounds called cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Researchers have discovered CBD can reduce anxiety and depression, with little-to-no side effects.
Anxiety & Depression
Environmental conditions, brain chemistry, general health, life events, trauma, and genetics are all thought to contribute to anxiety. In healthy individuals, the body constantly strives for a stable internal environment, known as homeostasis. This is dependent on having the right balance of many different biological systems, including circulation, temperature, glucose levels, and hormone levels. For people with anxiety, one or more of these variables may be off-balance.
CBD users report feeling more relaxed, and their brain scans show reduced anxious brain activity. People who consume CBD report reduced physical pain, anxiety, and depression. Anecdotal evidence and recent studies give strong credence to its apparent benefits. Sometimes, depression is triggered by a history of anxiety disorder or vice versa. Because CBD has both anti-anxiety and antidepressant properties, it’s possible that using CBD can have positive effects on both conditions.
More study is needed to validate the hypotheses about how CBD works and who it’s best for. We do know that the body’s Endocannabinoid System (ECS), a network of neurotransmitters that processes naturally occurring cannabinoids known as endocannabinoids, helps maintain balance throughout your body, including serotonin levels. Serotonin impacts how we perceive and experience feelings of anxiety. Anxiety and depression are thought to be caused in part by a lack of serotonin, and CBD has been shown to mimic the effect of serotonin in the brain.
CBD Good for Insomnia?
CBD may also help treat anxiety-induced insomnia. A 2011 study done on people suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) showed that patients who received CBD instead of a placebo experienced lower anxiety levels. For Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), several recent studies showed CBD stopped nightmares and also ended the mental looping (replaying the memory of the traumatic event) associated with PTSD.
There is no evidence that CBD makes anxiety worse on its own. However, full-spectrum CBD products also contain THC, which may negatively affect people with anxiety. The good news is CBD has been shown to kill the paranoia associated with THC so you can enjoy the high.
CBD vs. Prescription Medication
There are two main classes of anxiety medications: selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and benzodiazepines. SSRIs, which include drugs like Zoloft, work by increasing serotonin levels in the brain. Since CBD can activate serotonin receptors, there’s a possibility that it can be helpful—without the psychological addiction of prescription medication.
Benzodiazepines include drugs like Ativan and Xanax. This class of drug works by affecting neurotransmitters, one of which—gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA—is known to suppress nerve activity. Since anxiety is thought to be partially caused by excess nerve activity, drugs like Xanax work by increasing GABA’s effects. Excitingly, researchers at the University of Sydney in Australia found that CBD is also capable of altering the GABA neurotransmitter ways that enhance its nerve-suppressing effects.
Be aware that CBD can mitigate the effect of prescription medications. Research done at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil suggests that CBD is a strong inhibitor of CYP450, a liver enzyme that helps break down up to 60% of prescription medications. If your CBD dose is high enough, the enzyme might not function properly, allowing too much of the medication to remain in your system. So, the combination of CBD and your prescription medication could possibly cause dangerous side effects. In other words, speak to your doctor if you’re on prescription drugs and planning to consume CBD.
Is CBD Good for Anxiety? : Conclusion
CBD is a promising non-pharmaceutical option for those who do not respond to existing anti-anxiety medications or who suffer severely from their side effects. Remarkably, the body seems hardwired to interact with CBD and achieve the homeostasis associated with anxiety-free wellbeing.