Posted on June 05 2019
Anxiety and stress are an increasing problem among many individuals today. We've all heard the saying that stress can kill - well, it is true! Anxiety and stress not only make your days and nights unpleasant, but cause many physical side effects that ultimately take a toll on your body.
Anxiety related disorders affect a huge segment of our population. In fact, over 40 million adults, which is equivalent to 18%, in the United States ages 18 and older suffer from an anxiety related illness. In response, many pharmaceutical companies developed numerous medications to treat these anxiety related disorders.
The most common medications to treat anxiety are called SSRI's - or, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. This medication is designed to increase serotonin in the brain, which helps to lower stress and anxiety. Popular medications include: Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft, which are all classified under SSRI's. Other popular anti-anxiety medications include benzodiazepines, such as Valium and Xanax.
While these drugs can be effective for many patients, some unfortunately don't respond favorably. Some patients don't see any improvement, or they cannot tolerate the side effects. Moreover, tranquilizers, such as Valium and Xanax can become highly addictive.
Many patients are no looking for alternative, more natural treatment in managing their stress and anxiety. New studies and theories are being researched and experimented on the potential healing properties of CBD - or Cannabidiol, and the promising outcomes it can have on those who suffer from anxiety, depression, or other mood disorders.
CBD is derived from the cannabis plant, but does not have any of the psychoactive effects that marijuana has. The reason for this is because CBD contains very little to no THC, which is the mind-altering chemical found in marijuana.
Due to the lack of relation to cannabis, CBD has generated a tremendous amount of interest in consumers, clinicians, and scientists in the last few years. Why? Well, not only does evidence suggest that CBD counteracts many of THC's adverse side effects, but numerous animal studies and accumulating evidence from human experimental, clinical, and epidemiological studies suggest CBD has powerful anti-anxiety properties.
When administered acutely, or as needed, CBD 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 Phobia
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
- Mild to moderate Depression
So, how can CBD work for mental health? Let's take a look below!
CBD + The Brain: How Does it Work?
CBD exerts several actions in the brain that explain why it could be effective in treating anxiety. For instance, 5-HT1A is a subtype of the serotonin receptor, which is important because anxiety and depression can sometimes be treated with medications that target the serotonin system. This is why drug companies have developed medicines, such as Prozac and Zoloft.
As mentioned above, SSRI's work by blocking reabsorption of serotonin in the brain, which increases availability of serotonin in the synaptic space. This helps brain cells transmit more serotonin signals, which can reduce anxiety and boost mood in certain cases. Note: the full biological basis for this is far more complicated and not fully understood.
Similar to SSRI's, CBD may boost signaling through serotonin receptors. In an animal study, Spanish researchers found that CBD enhances 5-HT1A transmission and may affect serotonin faster than SSRI's. Researchers noted:
"The fast onset of antidepressant action of CBD and the simultaneous anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effect would solve some of the main limitations of current antidepressant therapies."
Hippocampal Neurogenesis: The hippocampus is a major brain area and plays a critical role in a variety of brain functions. It's most famous for its role in memory formation and cognition. Brain scans of patients suffering from depression, anxiety, or another mental health disorder, often show a smaller hippocampus. Successful treatment of depression and anxiety is associated with the birth of new neurons - also known as neurogenesis - in the hippocampus.
An animal study was conducted using mice and concluded that repeated administration of CBD may help the hippocampus regenerate neurons, which can be useful for treating anxiety or depression. Research shows that both SSRI's and CBD may promote neurogenesis. This is extremely important because evidence suggests that severely impaired neuronal plasticity may influence suicidal behavior.
Future research comparing CBD and SSRI's effect on neurogenesis could open up promising new avenues into how to understand depression, and could open up promising new treatments to effectively combat anxiety and depression.
CBD + Anxiety: How Can CBD Help?
Due to the success of animal studies, human studies are beginning to provide substantial evidence that demonstrates how CBD can improve many commonly reported anxiety disorder symptoms, including acute stress and anxiety.
Brazilian researchers conducted a small, double blind study of patients who were struggling with social phobias and social anxiety. After using CBD, participants reported a significant decrease in their anxiety symptoms. Researchers validated patients' subjective reports by performing brain scans showing the cerebral blood flow patterns are consistent with an anti-anxiety effect.
In another small study, researchers had patients who were suffering with Social Anxiety perform a simulated public speaking test. Participants who used CBD before speaking reported significantly less anxiety. Findings also showed lower heart rates and blood pressure.
Research then concluded that CBD significantly reduced anxiety, cognitive impairment, and any discomfort in the patients' speech performance. The other group, the placebo group, experienced higher anxiety, cognitive impairment, and significant discomfort.
How Can You Use CBD?
CBD Oil has a number of uses and comes in many forms, including: capsules, tinctures, powders, supplements, liquid oil, paste, sprays, salves, lotions, tea, coffee, skin patches, bath bombs, soaps, creams, and in edible forms, such as candies or sweets. You can also inhale CBD oil from vapor releasing pens, similar to the technology used for e-cigarettes.
Every CBD product is different in terms of how to use, or how much to take. That is why it is important to read all instructions carefully before use.
In addition to reducing anxiety and stress in humans, recent studies have also shown that CBD can be just as beneficial and healthy for dogs and cats as well! Here at Mountainside Medical Equipment, we also carry CBD products specifically designed for pets - including oils and bacon flavored dog treats!
Evidence shown from animal studies have begun to characterize the details of how CBD actually acts in the brain. Human studies of patients with and without anxiety disorders are starting to also validate CBD's efficiency as an anti-anxiety treatment.
It's not a secret that mental health, including anxiety disorders, carries a large social and financial burden, and now CBD has the potential to change all of that in treating anxiety related disorders more affordably.
While more research, including large randomized control trials, are still warranted to examine the long term effects and potential for CBD, it has already been effectively demonstrated and has created a highly favorable safety profile - especially when compared to current antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications.
*Please consult with your doctor or other qualified healthcare professional before consuming or using these products, and do NOT stop any current medication without consulting a qualified medical professional.*