CBD and its many therapeutic uses are amassing a whole heap of interest around the world – from both inside and outside the medical profession. And yet, evidence of its efficacy remains largely anecdotal, however, a small number of clinical trials have found that CBD decreases symptoms of anxiety.
Quite exciting news for the over 120 million people throughout Europe and the U.S., who suffer from anxiety disorders every day.
If you suffer from anxiety, your life may be a constant, stomach-churning cycle ranging from sleepless nights and depression to panic attacks and extreme phobias. But whatever form it takes, life becomes severely limited when you feel that you must avoid any anxiety-provoking situations.
The standard medical route is to prescribe antidepressants, such as SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors), which can in some circumstances make anxiety symptoms worse. It seems strange then that there is such resistance against the use of CBD for anxiety disorders within the medical profession, particularly with the mounting groundswell of evidence of its effectiveness.
CBD and Anxiety
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of over 100 natural compounds, also known as cannabinoids, in the Cannabis plant. Most people have heard of THC, or Tetrahydrocannabinol – the one that gets you high, but unfortunately for many people, THC can actually bring on feelings of paranoia and anxiety.
However, CBD is considered non-psychoactive with an increasing number of studies revealing its anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective and antiepileptic qualities. But does CBD help with anxiety?
So far, most research hasn’t made it beyond the science lab with very few human trials taking place. But in the case of CBD and its anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects, a number of trials on human subjects have been documented that taking CBD drops for anxiety does in-fact help reduce heightened levels of restlessness and stress.
In one test published in Neuropsychopharmacology (1) in 2011, 24 people diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) were given either CBD or a placebo after which they were asked to perform a simulated public speaking test. According to the trial, just some of CBD’s effects on anxiety included “significantly reduced anxiety, cognitive impairment,
Another test, published the same year in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, used neuroimaging on ten people also with SAD who had taken CBD to find out what parts of the brain are affected. Administering CBD for anxiety “was associated with significantly decreased subjective anxiety’ and through the neuroimaging they could see that this was due to CBD’s effect on the ‘activity in limbic and paralimbic brain areas.” The limbic system is largely responsible for our emotional life and formation of memories.
So far, the trials have been few and carried out on a limited number of subjects, but the results are certainly promising.
And it would seem that trials weren’t off the mark. People around the world claim CBD has helped them more than anything else:
“I have been having issues with anxiety and mood after quitting antidepressants. Also suffered with back pain and sciatica. All are somewhat of a distant memory. My mood has leveled off. My back pains are not as severe. I use 5 drops twice a day. Great product and great company”-James, CBD Product user
And like James, Paul has felt the difference CBD can make for controlling both mood and anxiety:
“Provides good relief of anxiety and ‘clears’ the mind bringing about a bit of serenity and calmness. Highly recommended”-Paul, Verified CBD User
The Endocannabinoid System Plays a Vital Role
To understand why CBD for anxiety might help, we first have to understand a bit more about how cannabinoids interact with our bodies. It’s largely due to one of the most important physiological systems in our body, called the Endocannabinoid System (ECS): a vast network of chemical compounds and receptors throughout the body. The primary function of the ECS is to regulate a multitude of functions, from inflammation and pain regulation, immune response, mood, neurogenesis, and neuroplasticity.
Our body produces its own chemicals called endocannabinoids that, when fitting into receptors such as the CB1 and CB2, cause various modulating responses throughout the body. One endocannabinoid called Anandamide is similar to the phytocannabinoid THC found in cannabis. When we produce anandamide, we tend to feel at ease and relaxed, just how many people feel after inhaling cannabis smoke or ingesting cannabis edibles. Both Anandamide and THC fit snugly into the CB1 receptors that are found mostly in the central nervous system, which affects cognition and brain function.
CBD and brain function
CBD, like THC, is a plant cannabinoid (phytocannabinoid), but unlike THC, CBD doesn’t fit directly into any of the receptors of the ECS. Instead, it interacts indirectly not only with the CB1 and CB2
Turns out that CBD is a 5HT1-A partial agonist – which in layman’s terms means it binds to the receptor site, but only stimulates the receptor partially – but scientists suggest it does so just enough to elicit an anti-anxiety effect.
Studies also suggest that CBD’s ability to promote hippocampal neurogenesis (the part of the brain responsible for memory, emotion and the autonomic nervous system) could also explain why anxiety is reduced.
And remember the feel-good endocannabinoid, Anandamide? Well, taking CBD can also take part in ensuring that we have bountiful levels of it in our bodies. Anandamide is broken down naturally in the body by an enzyme called FAAH (Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase), but CBD inhibits the production of FAAH, meaning that there’s more anandamide doing its mood-mediating work.
How to Take CBD for Anxiety
There is a range of products made to be administered in different ways. Most common are the CBD drops, which are best taken the by sublingual administration, but can also be taken orally, epidermally, and even vaginally or anally (though we suggest using CBD suppositories for this – a whole lot easier). This method has proven to have long-lasting effects and allows the body to metabolize the CBD, delivering relief to where it is needed.
CBD vaping is also a fantastic way to get CBD into your body fast. If you feel a panic attack coming on, vaping CBD is one of the fastest-acting methods of CBD administration, which could mean the difference of having a full blown panic attack or a slight increase in stress. Though a fast and efficient way to get your CBD, it isn’t as long-lasting as other methods and, due to recent investigations into vaping, could actually be harmful. This highlights the importance of you deciding which delivery method works best for you.
There are many other ways of administering CBD – like CBD Capsules for swallowing with no flavors, CBD Suppositories, CBD Oil, and pastes, and even ointments & salves- so do your research and find what product may be right for you.
OK, CBD Sounds Amazing – Now What?
CBD, as we know, is a natural cannabinoid found in cannabis, but in most countries, cannabis is illegal because it contains THC – the compound that gets you high. However, CBD can also be found in hemp – which is effectively the same plant as cannabis
As scientific and anecdotal evidence begins to mount, so does the interest for CBD, from consumers to those selling the product. Some unscrupulous companies are beginning to take advantage of the CBD gold rush, so it is vitally important to find a clean, ethically produced source of CBD oil that comes with Organic and GMP (Good Manufacturing Process) certification.
We always recommend that people do their own research, like looking at peer reviews on sites such as Trustpilot. Of course, these only count as further anecdotal evidence, but they are a good indication of the quality of a product and the customer care involved.
A quick glance through Trustpilot also indicates the positive impact that CBD oil has had on the lives of many anxiety sufferers. Here are just a few testimonies reporting their experiences with CBD. People everywhere are relishing the relief CBD has been able to bring them.
- Bergamaschi MM1, Queiroz RH, Chagas MH, de Oliveira DC, De Martinis BS, Kapczinski F, Quevedo J, Roesler R, Schröder N, Nardi AE, Martín-Santos R,Hallak JE, Zuardi AW, Crippa JA. (2011). Cannabidiol reduces the anxiety induced by simulated public speaking in treatment-naïve social phobia patients. Neuropsychopharmacology. 36(6):1219-26
- Crippa JA1, Derenusson GN, Ferrari TB, Wichert-Ana L, Duran FL, Martin-Santos R, Simões MV, Bhattacharyya S, Fusar-Poli P, Atakan Z, Santos Filho A,Freitas-Ferrari MC, McGuire PK, Zuardi AW, Busatto GF, Hallak JE.(2011) Neural basis of anxiolytic effects of cannabidiol (CBD) in generalized social anxiety disorder: a preliminary report. Journal of Psychopharmacology. 25(1):121-30
- Leonardo BM Resstel, Rodrigo F Tavares, Sabrina FS Lisboa, Sâmia RL Joca, Fernando MA Corrêa and Francisco S Guimarães. 5-HT1A receptors are involved in the cannabidiol-induced attenuation of behavioural and cardiovascular responses to acute restraint stress in rats. 2009. British Journal of Pharmacology. 156(1): 181–188
- Campos AC1, Ortega Z, Palazuelos J, Fogaça MV, Aguiar DC, Díaz-Alonso J, Ortega-Gutiérrez S, Vázquez-Villa H, Moreira FA, Guzmán M, Galve-Roperh I,Guimarães FS.Neural basis of anxiolytic effects of cannabidiol (CBD) in generalized social anxiety disorder: a preliminary report. (2013). Journal of Psychopharmacology. 16(6):1407-19.
- Bluett RJ, Gamble-George JC, Hermanson DJ, Hartley ND, Marnett LJ, Patel S. Central anandamide deficiency predicts stress-induced anxiety: behavioral reversal through endocannabinoid augmentation. (2014). Translational Psychiatry. 4:e40 1038/tp.2014.53.