Cannabidiol (CBD) is a unique compound derived from Cannabis sativa, a plant that draws interest for its psychoactive effects and potential health benefits. Preliminary studies indicate that THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis, is anxiety-inducing, while CBD, the non-psychoactive component, is anxiety-reducing.
Anxiety disorders are viewed as some of the most prevalent mental health concerns in the United States and other countries in the world. Current statistics state that anxiety affects more than 40 million adults in the US alone. That is not something that can be neglected.
Medical cannabis is on the rise in North America, which is why many are wondering whether cannabis consumption is the right path for them. Cannabis is often portrayed as a substance that can help you relax after a stressful day. CBD products, for instance, have been marketed as an alternative for anxiety disorders and symptoms.
Although cannabis is controversial, only research can tell whether this alternative treatment method is effective. This article will investigate both objective and subjective truths about CBD for anxiety.
What is Cannabis?
Cannabis is a plant that produces more than 500 active compounds, primarily in the trichomes of its flowers. More than 100 of these compounds are cannabinoids, potent compounds that interact with the human endocannabinoid system when consumed.
Cannabinoids act or bind with the cannabinoid receptors in the brain and body to regulate critical bodily processes. These processes include memory, pain perception, appetite, and mood. There are two predominant cannabinoids commonly studied for their effects on the human body. These are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
Cannabis has been genetically manipulated through cultivation practices to produce varying strains. The most polarized strains are Indica and Sativa. Indica strains typically have higher concentrations of CBD and lower levels of THC, producing more mellow effects. Sativa strains usually have higher concentrations of THC and low levels of CBD, which makes them deliver more energetic and uplifting highs. However, strains are often blended to form various effects.
Is Cannabis Bad?
Cannabis has been portrayed in the media inaccurately due to the impact of the “War on Drugs.” Many misinterpretations and misunderstandings about the plant have been many, and many of them have no basis. Some of the common misrepresentations include the following:
- Cannabis is a highly addictive drug with the potential to be abused by a lot of people
- Cannabis is a gateway drug that can lead to severe substance abuse
- Cannabis is harmful to the body and can lead to lung disease, memory loss, psychosis, and fatality
Nevertheless, the benefits of cannabis can also be overstated by its supporters. They can become misled to seek alternative treatments for their anxiety disorders and physical difficulties. According to statistics, anxiety management is the second reason experts endorse medical cannabis. The first reason is pain management.
Although most people take cannabis for pain and anxiety, it is essential to look into the objective findings to understand how the plant works. Some of the most common misconceptions about cannabis include:
- There is conclusive scientific evidence that proves that cannabis can cure anxiety
- Cannabis has minimal side effects
- You can use cannabis safely for long-term use
There have been positive outcomes showing that cannabis is beneficial for medical purposes, but analyzing the therapeutic benefits of cannabis to treat anxiety symptoms is challenging. For instance, preliminary studies show that cannabis has compounds that induce anxiety (e.g., THC) and reduce anxiety (e.g., CBD).
Therefore, we focus our attention on the anxiolytic cannabinoid CBD.
What is CBD?
Of the more than 100 cannabinoids in cannabis, CBD is one of the most researched compounds because of its potential health benefits. Although the research is in its early stages, evidence shows that it can treat anxiety disorders.
Cannabinoids bind with or act on the cannabinoid receptors to produce specific effects. THC, for instance, creates the feeling of high that most people associate with marijuana. Although CBD does not produce a high, it does provide many potential health effects.
Research suggests that CBD has anti-inflammatory and analgesic (anti-pain) properties. It can block the enzymes that cause inflammation in the body, thus reducing pain perception. It is the number one reason people take CBD products.
CBD is the first cannabinoid to be approved by the FDA for medical use, specifically in treating certain types of epilepsy. A systematic review in 2020 found out that CBD reduced seizures caused by rare drug-resistant epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome.
There is a growing demand to learn the actual medicinal value of CBD and other cannabinoids. Today, many CBD products are treated as dietary supplements and are not regulated by the FDA. We still have to wait for the results of further scientific studies before we can make conclusive claims about its therapeutic effects.
The question, therefore, is whether CBD can relieve anxiety disorders or their symptoms. Before we go to science, it is best to look into what anxiety disorders are.
Understanding Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety is our natural stress response, and it can be beneficial in particular circumstances. It stimulates our fight or flight response, helps us focus, and gives us time to prepare for an anticipated event. On the flip side, anxiety disorders are not typical because they involve excessive anxiety or fear. Anxiety disorders are mental disorders that are very common among adults. Fortunately, they are treatable.
Most Common Anxiety Disorders
Most adults go through various anxiety-related disorders, but the most common are the following:
- Generalized social anxiety disorder
- Panic disorder
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Separation anxiety disorder
Anxiety occurs when you anticipate or are concerned about a future event that you tend to exhibit avoidance behaviour and experience muscle tension. Based on statistics, women have a higher tendency to experience anxiety.
The emotional response to an immediate threat is fear, and the instinctive reaction is the fight or flight response, which is either fighting the danger or evading it at all costs. Extreme anxiety can trigger people’s desire to avoid situations that worsen their fears. Unfortunately, this can affect personal relationships, school work, and job performance.
When is fear or anxiety considered a disorder? It is a disorder when it is out of proportion to the stimulus or inappropriate for the person’s age that it hinders the ability to function normally.
The specific causes of anxiety are not generally known, but researchers speculate that it is a combination of environmental, genetic, developmental, and psychological factors. Anxiety-related disorders can be passed genetically but can also be produced by environmental stresses.
If you want to determine if you have a disorder, see your doctor for a diagnosis. The symptoms may be caused by a physical problem and not a psychological one. As long as the disorder is diagnosed, it can be addressed and treated. Most of the time, people do not seek medical help for their mental health conditions. If you suffer from anxiety-related symptoms, it is best to check them. You may not know if there are effective treatments against the disorder unless you get diagnosed.
Each type of anxiety-related disorder has unique characteristics, but most conditions usually respond to psychotherapy, medications, or both. For instance, a person can learn how to think, react, and behave differently towards a particular stimulus through the help of cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT).
Medications can provide considerable relief from anxiety symptoms but will not necessarily provide a cure. Anti-anxiety medicines are usually prescribed for short periods to control the psychological symptoms, and beta-blockers are sometimes used to regulate the physical symptoms.
Several things can help you cope with the symptoms and make treatment more effective. Some of the best techniques are meditation and stress management. If you can find a support group in your area or on the Internet, that would also be ideal. You can find support from family and friends aware of your condition.
So how about CBD? Let us look at what research has to say about CBD and anxiety.
CBD for Anxiety
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has a bad reputation for increasing anxiety, but fortunately, cannabidiol (CBD) may regulate fear and anxiety. Research supports this assessment. Several peer-reviewed studies and first-hand user experiences reinforce the beneficial properties of CBD on anxiety and other psychiatric disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
In one of their publications, the Harvard Medical School states that relevant animal studies and human studies suggest that CBD may help reduce anxiety and chronic pain. Today, clinical trials and studies on anxiety explore the possibility of CBD as an anxiolytic.
However, it is crucial to note that CBD is not yet considered a legal anxiolytic or anti-anxiety medication. The Food and Drug Administration still has to approve CBD for anxiety, but that will depend on the clinical data from future research into the anxiolytic effects of CBD. As more research is conducted on the subject, we will learn if CBD exhibits conclusive evidence to treat anxiety disorders.
Hence, it is up to you to learn if CBD treatment you want to try. Of course, it is best to consult with a medical professional who specializes in CBD administration to find out if cannabis can be an effective treatment for your condition.
CBD for Generalized Anxiety
A small trial in 2011 tested CBD on patients suffering from social anxiety disorder (SAD) and healthy control participants. They were subjected to a simulated public speaking test (SPST), a standard test for anxiety. Compared to a placebo, CBD significantly reduced anxiety and discomfort in SAD patients. Their reduced anxiety levels were almost comparable to the control group.
In 2019, researchers tested the efficacy of three different CBD doses (150mg, 300mg, and 600mg) against a placebo in men taking the same simulated public speaking test. They found out that the 300mg CBD significantly reduced the participants’ anxiety levels taking the SPST compared to the placebo, while the 150mg and 600 mg doses did not. Hence, the research shows that the dosage can produce variable effects.
Another test in 2019 tested lower doses of 25mg, 50mg, and 75mg. The premise is that higher doses of CBD may be too expensive for average users to maintain in their everyday lives. The participants took their specific doses every day. Most participants reported that CBD significantly reduced anxiety and improved sleep quality within the first month. Only three patients experienced side effects.
CBD for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
In a small 2019 study, 11 patients orally consumed CBD alongside their routine psychiatric care. The CBD reduced the severity of their PTSD symptoms.
Some studies also suggest CBD and THC work hand in hand in regulating symptoms of PTSD. The phenomenon is dubbed the entourage effect, where CBD mitigates the adverse effects of THC while THC improves the effects of CBD.
CBD for Anxiety and Depression
A 2020 study tested the effects of CBD oil on 394 patients with varying mental health issues. Those with mental health-related symptoms and non-cancer pain reported significant improvements in their anxiety and depression. They also experienced improvements in their ability to complete their everyday activities.
How to Consume CBD for Anxiety
The optimum use of CBD varies from person to person. The FDA does not regulate the sale of CBD products and does not provide any guidance on dosage. Hence, it is best to get advice from healthcare professionals acquainted with CBD use.
The most common forms of CBD products include:
- Oils and tinctures – usually in dropper-style bottles
- Edibles – gummies, chocolates, candies, etc.
- Sprays – designed to be sprayed in the mouth
- Capsules – tablets, soft gels, and pills
- Vapes – CBD oil intended for vaping
- Flowers – dried hemp flowers for smoking
- Topicals – creams, ointments, lotions, balms, bath bombs
Smoking flowers, vaping, and sublingual administration of oils and tinctures are the fastest methods to deliver CBD into your bloodstream. If you have an issue with smoking and vaping, you can eat CBD through edibles or capsules. Topicals are mainly for localized pain, but they may help reduce muscle tension caused by anxiety.
CBD Dosage for Anxiety
There is no particular dosage of CBD for treating anxiety. Most experts suggest that you start with a low dose and gradually increase your dosage depending on how your mind and body react. CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system, but its effects vary based on physical factors, such as age, body weight, metabolism levels, CBD tolerance, etc.
Clinical studies have evaluated the effective doses for specific ailments. For instance, 600mg is effective for SAD patients undergoing speech simulation, while 300mg is effective for male patients undergoing the same speech simulation.
Nevertheless, other studies show that lower doses may also be effective. For instance, 25-75mg is efficient for sleep problems and generalized anxiety, while 33-49mg is sufficient for PTSD.
In another study, patients who took variable doses of 40-300mg of CBD per day noted a lot of success. It shows that CBD doses are effective in varying degrees from person to person. It depends on the person’s symptoms and physiology.
If you are not confident in how much you should take, start low and work your way up until you feel the desired positive effect. It is also best to work with healthcare professionals if you opt to take CBD as a potential treatment for anxiety. Whether you start with low doses or high doses depends on the medical professional’s recommendations.
Safety and Side Effects
Although the World Health Organization states that CBD is a safe and well-tolerated substance, it also has potential risks and minor side effects. For example, it may interact with other medications by competing for liver enzymes. Hence, it may cause unwanted effects, including drowsiness, change in appetite, upset stomach, and weight gain.
Is CBD Legal?
It depends on where you reside. Nonprescription CBD products are legal as long as they are derived from hemp plants and contain less than 0.3% THC. Hemp-derived CBD products are legal on a federal level, but marijuana-derived CBD products are permitted only in areas where recreational marijuana is legal. Check your state laws to determine CBD legality in your area.
Where to Buy CBD Products
At Concentr8, we ensure that your customers get the best quality CBD products on the market. We know how important quality is to everyone. Hence, all our products undergo lab testing to check for potency and safety. If you are interested in other potent cannabinoids, check out the article below:
CBD VERSUS CBN: BENEFITS AND DIFFERENCES
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There is no conclusive scientific evidence that CBD can cure anxiety. We have to wait for the FDA to make that statement. Nevertheless, the preliminary research studies on animal models and humans show that CBD may have potential health benefits in reducing anxiety and symptoms of anxiety disorder. Regardless, working with a healthcare professional is wise when using CBD for any psychiatric disorder.