Does using CBD to treat your anxiety work?

Medical Cannabis

A quick Google search yields thousands of stories where users have seen success in treating anxiety with cannabidiol (CBD), a therapeutic compound in cannabis. CBD has become increasingly popular as people tune in to its non-intoxicating, therapeutic effects. One online survey of 2,409 CBD users found that 62% were using it for a medical condition, and using it to treat anxiety was one of the top three responses. More comprehensive studies need to be done before we’ll know exactly how CBD helps anxiety, but promising research suggests it may.

The Relationship Between CBD And Anxiety

While research on CBD and anxiety is still fairly limited, the current research and loads of anecdotal evidence make good cases for its use.

Some anxiety drugs like Buspirone, as well as some antidepressant and antipsychotic medications, target a serotonin receptor called 5-HT1A. One study found that patients with panic disorder have damaged functionality in the 5-HT1A receptor. Activating this receptor is a promising tool to treat anxiety disorders.

According to a report in the NCBI Biosystems Database, in vivo research is “consistent with CBD acting as an allosteric modulator, or facilitator of 5-HT1A signaling.”

In one study, rats were given microinjections of CBD. Ten minutes later they were subjected to two different panic-inducing situations: an elevated T-maze and electric stimulation of dorsal periaqueductal gray matter (a nucleus attributed to defensive behavior.)

They found the rats experienced anxiolytic effects from the microinjections of CBD during the elevated maze. They also experienced an inhibited escape response, which is a panicolytic effect. According to the researchers, “results suggest that CBD causes panicolytic effects in the dPAG by activating 5-HT1A receptors.”

Albino (Wistar) laboratory rat sitting on a cage with human silouette on background

Antidepressants are sometimes prescribed for anxiety disorders, and they have been suggested to work by encouraging neurogenesis. This essentially is the brain blasting off new connections, stimulating the formation of new connections and the growth of new neurons.

In one report on the role of CBD in adult neurogenesis, researchers tested the effects of various cannabinoids on neurogenesis. They found they could induce proliferation of cell regeneration in the hippocampus by acting on CB1 receptors by the repeated administration of CBD to wild-type mice.

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Researchers attributed the regeneration to the anti-anxiety effects of CBD in animals that are chronically stressed.

Another study on the role of CBD in anxiety and sleep disorders found that anxiety and sleep disorders found that patients experienced more reduction in anxiety over the course of the study.

According to the researchers, “CBD displays promise as a tool for reducing anxiety in clinical populations, but given the open-label and nonrandomized nature of this large case series, all results must be interpreted very cautiously.”

How To Use CBD for Anxiety

While more comprehensive studies are in order, especially on humans, CBD still helps many find relief from their anxiety.

The way you choose to take CBD will affect the results you get. Sublingual, oral, or via inhalation will work as delivery methods, though consuming CBD orally will send it through the digestive system, where some will be broken down before doing any good.

Sublingual administration (leaving a drop under the tongue for around 30-60 seconds) and inhalation both will offer results quickly.

The dosage will vary by users, and there is no universally-recommended dose. The best you can do if you’re going to try CBD for anxiety is to start with the lowest recommended dose as listed on your product, try it for a few days, and slowly increase until you feel you’ve hit an optimal dose.

Considering the potential power for CBD to encourage neurogenesis, it could be expected CBD will help users see results over time as their brains begin to fire new connections. Still, more research will need to be conducted to confirm this.

Anxiety

Young man with hands clasped together anxiety

Anxiety is a normal part of being human and a natural response to certain stressors. It can manifest as racing thoughts, difficulty concentrating, sleep disturbances, social avoidance, irrational fears, rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing, sweating and many other symptoms.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 40 million adults in the United States, or about 18% of the population, have an anxiety disorder. It is the most common mental illness in the country and can stem from life events, brain chemistry, genetics, and other risk factors.

Living with anxiety can be taxing and interfere with daily life and wellbeing. Only about 37% of people with an anxiety disorder get treatment leaving the rest to find other ways to cope.

Final Thoughts

CBD may be beneficial for those looking for a natural way to treat anxiety without intoxicating effects from THC. Because it affects the serotonin receptor 5-HT1A, CBD has anxiolytic effects and encourages neurogenesis.

While there’s still a lot to learn about cannabidiol, its role in providing relief from anxiety is a promising one. Living with an anxiety disorder is taxing, and finding a treatment that works without negative side effects can make people lose hope.

CBD has a good safety profile, with fewer side effects than many other pharmaceuticals and could potentially be a feasible alternative. It’s a good idea to speak with a medical professional before incorporating CBD to your routine, especially if you currently take medications already.

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