According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), anxiety disorders are the most common mental health conditions in the United States, affecting about 40 million adults or more than 18 percent of the population yearly.
Someone with an anxiety disorder persistently experiences some feelings of fear, nervousness, apprehension, worry, or muscle tension that are strong enough to interfere with daily activities. The condition is progressive and, if not adequately treated, may get worse over time.
There are many different types of anxiety disorders, but the five major ones include:
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Social anxiety disorder (social phobia)
- Panic disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Although a person’s genetic makeup may play a part in developing any of these anxiety disorders, environment, lifestyle, and health conditions play very significant roles. Chronic stress in the form of a challenging work environment or undue family demands may trigger anxiety.
Similarly, the use of certain drugs can alter your brain activities and lead to an anxiety disorder. Also, chronic medical conditions, such as chronic pain, cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases can cause anxiety.
There are medications — such as Xanax, Zoloft, and Paxil — for treating these conditions, but they’re highly addictive and have serious side effects. Due to its potency and lack of side effects, CBD is currently becoming a popular alternative for treating anxiety disorders, such as social phobia.
What is CBD?
CBD is the shortened name for cannabidiol, one of the over 100 chemical compounds (cannabinoids) found in the cannabis plant. It is mostly extracted in commercial quantities from the hemp strains of cannabis which have a higher concentration of CBD and less of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
THC is the major psychoactive compound in cannabis and is responsible for the ‘high’ feeling you get when you consume marijuana. The marijuana strains of cannabis contain high amounts of THC and little quantity of CBD.
Unlike THC, CBD does not have intoxicating side effects, so it can’t make you ‘high’. Because of its non-psychoactive effect and its ability to influence the secretion of important neurochemicals in the brain, CBD may be very helpful for people suffering from anxiety.
How does CBD interact with your brain?
One of the ways CBD can influence your brain function is through the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This is a system that regulates many functions in your brain, including emotional expression. It also modulates other systems in your body like the immune, digestive, and cardiovascular systems.
The ECS is composed of cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2), endogenous cannabinoids, and enzymes that break down the cannabinoids. By inhibiting the enzymes of the ECS, CBD increases the availability of endogenous cannabinoids which then bind on the CB1 receptors to reset brain activities, including the feeling of anxiety.
Apart from the ECS, CBD also acts on some other targets in the brain, including the TRPV proteins and the serotonin receptors, to improve mood and modulate pain.
Three ways CBD may help people with anxiety
As the use of CBD and medical cannabis becomes more popular, researchers are beginning to explore ways CBD can help people with anxiety disorders. Here are three ways CBD may help reduce anxiety:
1. Reduction in the symptoms of anxiety
If you have an anxiety disorder, you may be experiencing a wide array of symptoms, such as:
- racing thoughts or unwanted thoughts
- lack of concentration
- excessive worry
- nervousness and tremors
- a feeling of impending doom
- muscle tension
- digestive symptoms.
Based on how CBD influences the endocannabinoid system and how the system regulates various functions in the body, CBD can relieve most of these symptoms. Since most of the symptoms result from an imbalance in your body’s internal processes, regular intake of CBD may restore balance to your body systems and eliminate the symptoms.
2. Controlling the conditions that may trigger anxiety
Even though several factors can cause anxiety, many of them may be controlled with CBD. For instance, CBD may reduce the psychoactive effects of some hard drugs, like cocaine, heroin, and THC, which trigger anxiety. CBD may even help with addiction to these drugs and be of great benefit in managing withdrawal syndromes.
Chronic stress is one of the major causes of anxiety, and CBD can help relieve stress and make you feel in control. CBD can also alleviate chronic pain, another major cause of anxiety. By controlling these conditions that lead to anxiety, CBD may be better in managing anxiety than conventional medications.
3. Aiding in relaxation
CBD can calm your nerves and help you relax better. Apart from its medicinal uses, CBD is a safe and beneficial recreational substance which doesn’t only aid in relaxation but also nourishes your body.
There is no doubt that adequate relaxation eases stress and helps reduce anxiety.
Other benefits of using CBD for treating anxiety
There are many other benefits you can derive from using CBD to treat anxiety, and these are some of them:
Improved regulation of body systems
CBD helps to balance the endocannabinoid system, and the primary role of the ECS in the body is to maintain internal homeostasis, by perfectly regulating the functions of other systems in the body. So CBD helps to restore order in your body systems and improve your general wellbeing.
Improved quality of sleep
If you’re taking CBD, the quality of your sleep will improve. You will fall asleep faster, stay asleep for longer, and feel refreshed when you wake up.
How to take CBD
CBD comes in different forms, such as edibles, gummies, tinctures, capsules, vape oil, and sublingual sprays. To ensure proper dosing, it is advisable to stick to one product form. For example, CBD gummies are easy to determine the right CBD dosage.
If you’re just starting out with CBD, it’s better to start with the lowest dose and gradually increase the dose as your body acclimates to the effects of the drug.
In conclusion, anxiety is a very common mental health condition which can adversely affect one’s quality of life. Although there are standard medications for treating it, they have numerous side effects. Owing to its potency and non-intoxicating effects, CBD may be a very effective alternative treatment for anxiety disorders.