Today, 40 million adult Americans suffer from anxiety each year – that’s 18.1% of the population. The condition can be best described as a ‘state of constant worry’ which may vary in terms of intensity from person to person.
If you’re suffering from only mild anxiety, typically associated with a ‘feeling of having butterflies in the stomach’, then you probably have nothing to worry about – after all, a little bit of day-to-day anxiety is only normal, given our responsibilities and obligations.
However, when anxiety symptoms are so severe that they start to have a negative impact on your professional, personal and social life, then you may be dealing with a debilitating condition – one which often opens the pathways to anti-anxiety and anti-depression drug addiction.
Not sure if your anxiety is just ‘normal and everyday’ or something more serious? Typical symptoms include shortness of breath, a tingling sensation in the hands or feet, panic, dizziness, insomnia, tensed up muscles, and nausea.
For many folks, anxiety is a driving force that leads them to achieve bigger and better things – unfortunately, for others it can be a serious impediment to growth, success and especially happiness.
It is for this reason that many people have turned to cannabis strains which contain the non-psychoactive compound CBD (Cannabidiol), to find relief from anxiety in a natural way – without the use of addictive and often risky anti-anxiety prescription drugs which can make symptoms worse in the long run.
Why CBD is Effective for Treating Anxiety
In the cannabis world – people are currently experiencing a ‘moment’. Legalization movements are sweeping the US, with many states having already decriminalized marijuana. Not just the US, but cannabis legalization is gaining steam in other parts of the world as well.
If you have suffered any form of chronic illness, it’s quite likely that somebody has already recommended medical cannabis strains. And even though the usual response from people is “but I can’t have it because it isn’t legal yet” – it’s important to know that not all cannabis strains are created equal.
The main psychoactive compound in cannabis, known as THC, is what makes the drug illegal in a number of states, as that’s what causes the ‘high’ or feelings of euphoria. However, there are other strains in cannabis plants as well. And if you’re not interested in consuming cannabis for the ‘hazy and high’ feeling or reside in a state where the herb hasn’t been legalized yet – CBD is one chemical compound that holds a lot of therapeutic appeal.
CBD has been studied for many years now and has proven useful in treating many health conditions, from chronic pain and inflammation to sleep disorders and recovery from chemotherapy side effects. But what some medical cannabis users may not be aware of is that it can also be a very effective remedy for anxiety disorders.
Many people with the condition are opting for CBD to alleviate and manage symptoms, especially since traditional treatment methods can carry long-term risks, given the likelihood for abuse or addiction with prescription drugs like Klonopin or Xanax.
Apart from first-hand accounts coming from users, there have been many studies that have demonstrated CBD’s efficacy in treating anxiety. But what makes it particularly appealing for sufferers is that it is derived from hemp – which means it’s not only legal to consume no matter where you are, but will also not make you test positive for a drug test, due to the trace to non-existent amounts of THC (the psychoactive compound).
Prescription Medication is Not a Last Resort
Anxiety related disorders happen to be the most common mental illness American adults suffer from today. In fact, symptoms of anxiety are often accompanied by those of depression – pharmaceutical companies have been quick to pounce on the opportunity, offering a multitude of drugs to cure symptoms.
Common anti-depressants like Zoloft or Lexapro, for example, belong to the SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) category. They work on the premise of blocking serotonin from reaching the brain, thereby increasing its abundance. SSRIs are very popular among anxiety sufferers in the US today, as a result.
Then there are drugs like Valium and Xanaz, often referred to as benzodiazepines (benzos) – an anti-anxiety class of drugs which have the ability to treat symptoms by working with specific neurotransmitters – which, in turn, suppress nerves and reduce physiological processes in the body that are directly responsible for anxiety attacks.
Unfortunately, benzos work only in the short term and many doctors will not prescribe them for an extended amount of time due to their addictive properties.
Current Research on CBD
Animal studies have demonstrated CBD’s efficacy for treating anxiety. Despite the fact that research is somewhat limited on CBD at the moment, preliminary results are very promising.
Research conducted in 2014 found that CBD oil in particular can exhibit anti-depressant and anti-anxiety effects on animals.
A 2010 study discovered that CBD has the ability to reduce symptoms in patients suffering from SAD (social anxiety disorder). Brain scans revealed specific blood flow variations in parts of the brain that are responsible for managing feelings of anxiety.
This was backed by a 2011 study which found that CBD can indeed reduce the likelihood of SAD episodes. In this study, researchers specifically assessed the effectiveness of the cannabinoid in treating anxiety experienced during public speaking.
Another similar study was done where participants’ heart rate and blood pressure were measured before and after CBD use. It was revealed that everyone in the study felt significantly less anxious and scored a lot better at a public speaking test, after consuming CBD.
GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) is a condition that is characterized by irrational fear and too much worrying – a 2011 study revealed that test subjects suffering from GAD showed reduced symptoms of anxiety after they were given CBD. In fact, brain scans further reinforced the feedback given by subjects.
In 2015, a thorough analysis was done on past studies with regard to CBD’s potential for treating anxiety. It was revealed that CBD in its oil form can cure many types of anxiety including panic disorder, PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), GAD and SAD.
In 2016, a case study was done to determine CBD’s role in reducing PTSD and anxiety-induced sleep disorder in a child who had a history of emotional trauma. Researchers concluded that the non-psychoactive cannabinoid did not only reduce her anxiety symptoms but also helped sleep better.
The National Institutes Health (NIH) is on the verge of kick-starting a clinical trial to determine if PTSD sufferers who also have a history of alcohol abuse can benefit from CBD. The main objective is to assess if CBD can, in fact, reduce symptoms of PTSD and also encourage subjects to drink less.
A well-established psychiatrist and researcher at NYU (New York University), Dr. Esther Blessing, recently made a statement saying that there’s plenty of evidence to point to the fact that CBD can be very effective at treating anxiety. However, she also added that clinical trials are needed to find out more.
In an article published in the Journal of the American Society for Experimental Neuro Therapeutics in late 2015, Dr. Blessing mentioned:
“Cannabidiol (CBD), a Cannabis sativa constituent, is a pharmacologically broad-spectrum drug that in recent years has drawn increasing interest as a treatment for a range of neuropsychiatric disorders. We found that existing preclinical evidence strongly supports CBD as a treatment for generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder when administered acutely. Overall, current evidence indicates CBD has considerable potential as a treatment for multiple anxiety disorders, with need for further study of chronic and therapeutic effects in relevant clinical populations.” –Source
Is CBD for Me if I’m Already on Prescription Drugs?
Many cannabis users, including those who haven’t consumed cannabis, are now turning to CBD to create some distance from the intense and addictive effects of prescription drugs for anxiety; especially since benzos, for instance, are known to provide only short term relief from anxiety.
CBD products on the other hand, cost a lot less and work naturally in tandem with the endocannabinoid system – the ECS is a biological system which is responsible for regulating certain functions in the body – e.g. pain, mood, appetite and memory.
CBD is abundantly available not only in cannabis but hemp plants as well. Hemp-based CBD products are easily available, irrespective of a state’s legislation on marijuana. However, if you want to enjoy the most robust cannabinoid profile, cannabis plant-based CBD is a markedly better choice.
American veterans have actually been quite vocal in regards to medical marijuana for treating PTSD. Scientists have also concluded that those suffering from PTSD are also deficient in endocannabinoids – something that CBD can balance off.
As more states join the marijuana legalization bandwagon and more anxiety sufferers adopt plant-based methods of treatment, information on CBD and its desirable effects on curing anxiety continue to surface.
Talking to others about their experience with CBD, learning about the different CBD products available today and consulting your physician are all ways of furthering your own knowledge on this promising cannabinoid.