Does CBD Work for Anxiety?
Have you ever felt a sudden episode of intense fear, accompanied by at least three physical symptoms that include heart palpitations, chest pains, nausea, trouble breathing/shortness of breath, flushing or chills, or fear of losing control or dying?
Nearly half of Canadians say they struggle with anxiety and approximately a third say they have been professionally diagnosed with anxiety disorder. There are seven main types of anxiety disorders including: generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social phobia or social anxiety disorder, specific phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder and agoraphobia.
The common anxiety affects can make daily tasks feel difficult – impacting our work and relationships. While current pharmaceutical drugs in the market such as Prozac, Valium and Xanax can be effective for many patients, but just like any other psychiatric medications, these drugs can have numerous unpleasant side effects.
How does anxiety and stress impact your body?
When we experience stress or anxiety, differences in our hormones or neurotransmitters (like serotonin and norepinephrine) can massively impact how we respond to stress.
Chronically high levels of stress hormones — particularly cortisol, tells our body to prepare for a “fight or flight” situation. These stress hormones can negatively impact the brain and body including the possibility of depression, heart disease, digestive problems, weakened immune system, fatigue, weight gain, headaches, muscular tension, and endocannabinoid imbalances.
How does CBD combat anxiety?
In the recent years, early research has been performed on animals and with small groups of people. Scientific research studies have shown evidence for CBD’s powerful anti-anxiety properties.
So how does CBD work inside our body?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabinoid, one of hundreds of different active compounds found in cannabis and hemp. Unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD doesn’t have any psychoactive effects on the brain which means you can’t get ‘high’.
CBD and other cannabinoids work in our bodies through the endogenous cannabinoid system (ECS) or also commonly referred to as the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system works to maintain homeostasis in our bodies.
CBD acts as neurotransmitters in our bodies, working on the cellular level to communicate messages throughout the body by directly interacting with CB1 and CB2 receptors. These receptors are mostly found in the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system, respectively.
Serotonin, a neurotransmitter, plays an important role in our mental health. Low serotonin levels are commonly associated with people who have depression. In some cases, not having enough serotonin may also cause anxiety.
CBD works specifically with the 5HT1A serotonin receptor and acts in a similar way as prescription serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac and Zoloft to increase the availability of serotonin the brain, which can reduce anxiety and boost your mood. In a 2016 study, researchers found that CBD may affect serotonin levels in the brain faster than SSRIs.
One study looked at mice and found that CBD had comparable effects to imipramine, an anti-depressant medication, in producing anti-depressant-like effects. A similar study looked at the effect of CBD on humans with social anxiety disorder and found that the people who took 400 mg of CBD had significantly decreased subjective anxiety compared to a placebo. Earlier this year, a study of 72 adults found that anxiety decreased in 79% of the participants.
Is CBD safe?
There is still much research to be done for us to fully understand how CBD works. However scientific research and clinical trials have good evidence that CBD has a positive calming effect on the central nervous system. Therefore, using CBD for stress and anxiety is a safe and effective alternative to traditional treatments. The recommended dosage for first time users is 10-15 mg per day and appears to be safe, well-tolerated, and may be beneficial to treat a number of anxiety-related disorders, including:
- Panic disorder
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Social anxiety disorder
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
- Mild to moderate depression
It is encourage that you speak to your doctor first especially if you are currently taking other prescription medications.