Anxiety happens to all of us especially when you least expect it. Some of us deal with anxiety on a daily basis whereas some of us get a curve-ball thrown at use from time to time.
Either way, anxiety wreaks havoc on your body, mind, and soul. It can make you feel like your heart is going to pound out of your chest and your whole world is spinning out of control.
Most doctors will prescribe you antidepressants or anxiety medications like Xanax to deal with your anxiety.
However, prescription medications can be addictive and even make your anxiety worse. So, people have been looking for a more natural way to deal with their anxiety.
In recent years, CBD has generated an enormous amount of interest among those with anxiety, clinicians, and scientists.
Not only does evidence suggest CBD is great for those suffering from pain, but numerous studies have shown evidence that suggests CBD is just as powerful at helping those suffering from anxiety.
So, here is all you need to know about CBD oil and anxiety!
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is actually a normal and healthy emotion that helps us to recognize dangerous situations or even uncomfortable situations.
In some cases, anxiety can be a good way to get your body motivated to change whatever is going on.
when a person feels disproportionate levels of anxiety, it could be a medical disorder.
Anxiety disorders affect 40 million people throughout the states. But, only 39% of those people actually receive the treatment they need.
An anxiety disorder is constituted as a mental health problem. Symptoms of anxiety disorders are excessive nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worry.
Mild anxiety disorders may be unsettling, but severe anxiety disorders can affect a person’s day to day living. Here are a few severe symptoms that can affect daily living:
- Restlessness, and a feeling of being "on-edge"
- Uncontrollable feelings of worry
- Increased irritability
- Concentration difficulties
- Sleep difficulties
- High blood pressure
Although these symptoms occasionally are normal, if you are feeling this way daily or more often than not, it is time to speak with a doctor.
What is CBD Oil?
In order to fully understand the benefits of using CBD oil for anxiety, it is important to know what CBD is and what it isn’t.
CBD is actually an acronym for Cannabidiol which is a cannabinoid found in marijuana and hemp plants.
Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that are found both in our own bodies and in cannabis plants.
Cannabinoids were originally found in cannabis plants before we knew that we had cannabinoids in our own bodies.
Those found in cannabis plants are called phytocannabinoids. The two most widely researched cannabinoids in cannabis plants are CBD and THC.
However, there are over 100 different kinds of phytocannabinoids in the cannabis plant. Some of the ones in their infancy of study include:
- Cannabigerolic (CBG)
- Cannabichromene (CBC)
- Cannabinol (CBN)
- Cannabidiol (CBL)
In studying cannabinoids in cannabis plants, we found that our own bodies actually create cannabinoids much like the cannabis plants.
These cannabinoids are called endocannabinoids because they are made inside the body. The two endocannabinoids we produce are:
- 2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG)
Our endocannabinoids bind to receptors in a system of our body called the Endocannabinoid system.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is almost identical to the endocannabinoid Anandamide, so it fits like a key into a lock with our receptors.
Therefore, CBD activates the receptors to put our body in homeostasis.
Our receptors in our Endocannabinoid system affect our bodies in various ways. We have two receptors for cannabinoids: The CB1 receptor and the CB2 receptor.
Here’s how they work in our body….
The CB1 Receptor
The CB1 receptors can be found in parts of our brain including the hypothalamus, hippocampus, and amygdala.
These receptors keep our nervous system, intestines, connective tissues, gonads, and other glands throughout the body in homeostasis.
This means that when you receive extra cannabinoids that interact with the receptors, you can have the following effects in the body:
- Relieving depression
- Lowering blood pressure
- Decreasing intestinal problems
- Increasing brain-derived neurotrophic factor (vital to learning, working memory, and higher thinking).
- Lowering anxiety
- Reducing fear
The CB2 Receptor
As CB1 receptors work on your brain as well as your nervous system.
The CB2 receptors work on your bodies spleen, tonsils, thymus, immune cells, monocytes, macrophages, B and T cells, and the microglia.
This means that when a cannabinoid such as CBD activates CB2 receptors, it can quite literally affect every type of human disease in your body including:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Gastrointestinal diseases
- Neurodegenerative diseases
- Psychiatric diseases
- Autoimmune diseases
- Kidney function
- Bone and Skin Health
Can You Get High from CBD?
In a short answer, no you can not get high from using CBD. In fact, that is one of the benefits of CBD.
Unlike THC, CBD is non psychoactive meaning when you take it, you will not get the high feeling like you do if you smoked marijuana or pot.
CBD is not marijuana or pot. Yes, it comes from the cannabis plant, however, most CBD is derived from industrial hemp.
Hemp plants are not marijuana either. Hemp has high amounts of CBD and low amounts of THC. Hemp is actually a cousin to the marijuana plant.
Although you can get CBD from the marijuana plant, most states have only legalized the use of industrial hemp for CBD.
Therefore, CBD has very trace amounts of THC, less than .3% meaning it will not get you high.
How Does CBD Work for Anxiety?
CBD does a number of things in the brain as shown above which explains why it could be effective in treating or alleviating anxiety.
However, it is important to note that most studies done for CBD and anxiety are all clinical and based on animal studies.
Because mice are not men, CBD may not work the same way for humans as it does for mice. Thus, it may not work for everyone in the same way either.
However, through these studies, we have learned a great deal about how CBD could work for anxiety. And, it seems to have promising results.
CBD increases 5-HT1A Agonist
The fact that CBD increases 5-HT1A agonist is important because anxiety as well as depression can sometimes be used to target the 5-HT1A system.
5-HT1A antagonist is a subtype of the serotonin receptor. When this receptor is activated, it produces more serotonin in your body.
Serotonin is an important chemical and neurotransmitter in the body that helps regulate your moods, emotions, social behavior, digestion, and sleep.
In simple terms, serotonin is what makes you feel happy.
This is why many companies will prescribe serotonin reuptake inhibitors such as Prozac, Celexa, and Zoloft to treat anxiety and depression.
These drugs work by blocking the absorption of the serotonin in the brain thus increasing the availability of serotonin in the synaptic space.
Thus, it tells the brain to transmit more serotonin signals which then reduces anxiety.
CBD is similar to serotonin reuptake inhibitors as it may boost signaling through your serotonin receptors.
Although this has only been done in animal studies, the study done found that CBD enhances 5-HT1A transmission thus may affect serotonin even faster than prescription medications.
CBD Promotes Neurogenesis
Another way that CBD works to combat anxiety is by promoting neurogenesis in the hippocampus area of the brain.
The hippocampus is a major part of the brain that plays critical roles in a variety of brain functions. Most specifically it helps with memory formation and cognition.
Through brain scans of patients suffering with depression or anxiety, it has been noted that they often have a smaller hippocampus.
Successful treatment of depression is often associated with the birth of new neurons or neurogenesis in the hippocampus.
Serotonin reuptake inhibitors also promote neurogenesis which is another reason they are prescribed.
However, CBD has been found to do the same thing in an animal study using mice. Like prescription medications, CBD must have repeated administration.
Therefore, both CBD and serotonin re-uptake inhibitors promote neurogenesis. The question, however remains as to which is more effective.
Further research will need to be done to compare CBD and serotonin re-uptake inhibitors on the effects of neurogenesis.
Human Studies Show Promising Results
Another factor in CBD hitting the market by storm for anxiety is the small human studies that are starting to build evidence as well.
These human studies are showing that CBD is improving commonly reported anxiety disorder symptoms such as acute stress and anxiety.
Here are some of the studies that have been done:
In Brazil, Brazilian researchers conducted a small study on patients who were afflicted by generalized social anxiety.
The study was a double-blind study, so patients did not know if they were getting CBD or a placebo.
Not only did patients report a decrease in anxiety, but brain scans showed cerebral blood flow patterns consistent with an anti-anxiety effect.
Public speaking can be super stressful and many people have anxiety leading up to, during, and after they have to speak in public.
So in another small human study, patients suffering from social anxiety were given CBD before performing a simulated public speaking test.
Those who were given the CBD reported having significantly less anxiety than they would normally. These were supported by indicators like heart rate and blood pressure.
From these studies, researchers have concluded that CBD does significantly reduce anxiety, cognitive impairment, and discomfort in patients with anxiety.
Furthermore, those in the placebo group had higher anxiety, cognitive impairment, and discomfort.
Other CBD Studies
Sometimes, anxiety is triggered by other factors. So it is important to know that CBD isn’t just a treatment for anxiety alone.
In fact, CBD has been studied as a treatment for numerous disorders including PTSD, SAD, Depression, and Schizophrenia. All of which can trigger anxiety as well.
Here are some other studies to look into about CBD and its treatments:
CBD and PTSD
Studies have shown to be beneficial for other forms of anxiety such as PTSD. Because it works on the brain’s serotonin levels, it alleviates that fight or flight response.
Animal studies have shown that CBD has the potential to affect every stage of the process of aversion conditioning.
In addition to this, CBD is effective in reducing both cardiovascular responses and anxiogenic effects caused by stress and PTSD.
CBD and SAD
SAD is an acronym for social anxiety disorder. This is when people have anxiety in any social situation and drastically affects their social life.
In a 2011 study the Journal of Psychopharmacology published an article on the effects of CBD and SAD.
Participants in this study were given an oral dose of 400 milligrams of CBD or they were given a placebo.
This study showed that those who were given the CBD dose had lower anxiety during social situations.
However, it is important to note that there isn’t enough evidence to understand how CBD works in this matter or what dose would be best for treating SAD.
CBD and Schizophrenia
CBD has most notably been studied for neurological orders such as epilepsy. However, more recently we have studied the affects of CBD and Schizophrenia.
It is believed that since CBD has been proven to treat epilepsy disorders that it could treat other neurological disorders as well.
In a 2016 study, researchers found antipsychotic benefits of CBD and schizophrenia. The researchers even indicated a preference for CBD over antipsychotic drugs.
Are There Side Effects
Medications that are prescribed by a doctor come with a plethora of side effects. Although CBD is considered safe, some people who have taken it do experience side effects, including:
- Stomach discomfort
- Sleeping difficulties
- Mood changes
- Dry mouth
- Interactions with other medications
Do NOT stop any medications you are already taking without talking to a doctor, first!
Using CBD oil for anxiety may help your anxiety tremendously, but if you are already on medications, you should talk to your doctor about switching, before you stop any medication.
Stopping medications that you are already on, suddenly can throw you into withdrawal. Symptoms of withdrawal include:
- Muscle aches and pains
Always talk to a doctor before stopping or starting any medication including CBD oil.
Do I Need a Prescription for CBD?
Originally, CBD was only legal to those who had a seizure disorder not treatable by other medications.
As research has evolved, and we have found that CBD does NOT make people “high” like the effects of marijuana, CBD has become less taboo.
In fact, CBD is legal for consumption, over the counter, in all but four states. Idaho, Kansas, South Dakota, and Nebraska still need to get on board.
However, even though CBD is available over the counter, it is not recommended to take it without speaking to a doctor first especially if you are on other medications.
CBD is becoming more well-known and less taboo. Research has come a long way in the last 10-years.
With both animal studies and small scale human studies, CBD shows promising results in alleviating and reducing anxiety in all forms.
However, even though research has come a long way, there is still no hard evidence that it is a treatment for anxiety.
Furthermore, studies vary on the dosages that are given. For example, a mouse may not need as much CBD as a human or vise versa.
One study used 400 milligrams of CBD to treat anxiety. However, recommended doses for anxiety range from 40 milligrams to 600 milligrams.
Therefore, there is no clear answer as to whether CBD will work for everyone or what dosages those with anxiety should try.
With that being said, trying CBD as a natural remedy for anxiety may be a good option for those suffering from anxiety. Be sure to always speak with your doctor before you try it.
Have you tried CBD for your anxiety? What did you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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4. Tambaro, S., & Bortolato, M. (2012, April 01). Cannabinoid-related agents in the treatment of anxiety disorders: Current knowledge and future perspectives. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3691841/.