CBD and Anxiety - Everything You Need to Know | CBDNerds.com
Cannabidiol (CBD) has spread rapidly across the U.S. - appearing in the shelves at gas stations to your favorite grocery stores. With such popularity comes a lot of conversations. Though the Federal Food & Drug Administration (FDA) doesn't approve CBD for medical use (with the exception of Epidiolex), many have claimed it can help with a long list of medical conditions. One of the most discussed being anxiety.
Unfortunately, there's only been so much research put into CBD and anxiety. With that said, it's unclear whether or not this little cannabinoid is the answer to your anxiety disorder. Throughout this article, we're going to explore the science behind CBD and how it can help with anxiety. From there, we'll provide you with everything you need to know when it comes to taking CBD for this mental health condition.
What is an Anxiety Disorder?
It's only natural all of us feel anxiety from time to time. It only becomes a disorder when these feelings perpetuate and disrupt our day-to-day lives. People who struggle with anxiety are prone to experiencing overwhelming amounts of fear and worry to the point where it's disabling.
Currently, there are four prominent types of anxiety that affect millions of people. These include:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder - Excessive and irrational fear and worry on a consistent basis.
- Panic Disorder - An overwhelming and uncontrollable feeling of terror that strikes at random. This type of anxiety often leads to panic attacks.
- Social Anxiety Disorder - Feelings of self-consciousness and worry from normal social interactions.
- Specific Phobias - When you feel fear for a specific situation or object. For example, many people struggle with arachnophobia, a fear of spiders.
While symptoms for an anxiety disorder will vary from person to person, some of the most common includes:
- Cold, sweaty, numb, or tingling feet and hands
- Dry mouth
- Feelings of panic, fear, uneasiness
- Heart palpitations
- Inability to stay calm and still
- Muscle tension
- Shortness of breath
- Sleep problems
Many mental health professionals agree that the two main causes of anxiety are genetics and your environment. In other words, you may experience anxiety if someone in your family does or anxiety may come about due to the stress of your living situation. For example, children who lived in households of abuse often develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), another form of anxiety.
One of the reasons anxiety is so difficult to overcome is it makes changes within the brain. More specifically, the amygdala and hippocampus. These areas of the brain are responsible for processing incoming sensory signals. When someone struggles with anxiety, signals are continuously sent to these areas, alarming them of threat and, in turn, producing fear.
As we'll get into, this is important to understand as CBD may have the ability to calm these signals down.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (more commonly referred to as CBD) is one of the many molecules naturally found within the cannabis sativa plant. This is a species of plants that can refer to both hemp and marijuana. These plants host a variety of other molecules, known as phytocannabinoids, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabinol (CBN), and cannabivarin (CBV), just to name a few.
The majority of CBD products currently on the market use an extract from the hemp plant. While these are cannabis sativa plants and practically the same as marijuana, under federal law, a plant is only labeled as hemp if it contains 0.3% of THC or less. With that said, any CBD product developed from a hemp plant will not cause psychoactivity - the "high" often associated with cannabis.
While the FDA still doesn't approve of CBD, it has been claimed and marketed as a remedy for a number of medical conditions, including:
- Alzheimer's Disease
- Chronic pain
- Parkinson's Disease
It's important to note, most of these claims are made from people who struggle with an ailment and have experience with CBD. With that said, the research behind CBD and certain medical conditions are limited. This is part of the reason the FDA still doesn't approve CBD for most ailments.
Still, in terms of anxiety, there has been some solid research that has laid the foundation for future studies.
How Does CBD Affect the Brain and Body?
It's still not entirely understood how exactly CBD works within the brain and body. However, we do know it has an indirect effect on our endocannabinoid systems (ECS).
Our ECS is a molecular system made up of two distinct neurotransmitters, CB1 and CB2 receptors. These receptors have a number of responsibilities, including our appetite, cell communication, immune response, metabolism, memory, and mood. Again, while it's not clear exactly how CBD affects the system, researchers believe CBD has an indirect way of balancing out our ECS.
With that said, it's understood that many people who struggle with anxiety also have an imbalanced ECS. Due to CBD's properties, it's believed that by balancing out our ECS, anxiety levels can be reduced. This is logical when considering the idea that fear signals sent to the amygdala and hippocampus may be decreased with the help of CBD.
To take things further, it's understood that people with anxiety tend to have low amounts of serotonin. Since it's believed that CBD indirectly balances out our endocannabinoid system, it's also believed that it can boost serotonin - in turn, helping people with anxiety and depression.
Properly understanding how CBD can affect the brain and body for those who have anxiety is a complicated matter. The fact that we currently lack research into the topic only furthers complications. However, there have been a number of studies that have looked into specific types of anxiety and how CBD may play a therapeutic role.
What Do the Studies Have to Say About CBD and Anxiety?
While research is limited, we're considerably lucky to have some studies surrounding CBD. Due to nearly a century of cannabis prohibition, very few studies were conducted as medicine and science continued to progress. Yet, out of recent popularity for CBD, more and more studies have appeared concerning the topic. Some of these include:
- In 2011, Neuropsychopharmacology published a study where they tested the effects of CBD on people with social anxiety disorder giving a public speech. One group was given a single dose of CBD while another was given a placebo. It was found that the group which took CBD showed a significant reduction in both anxiety and discomfort during the speech.
- In 2011, another study published by the National Library of Medicine also found that CBD helped in reducing anxiety symptoms in people struggling with a social anxiety disorder.
- In 2015, Nature Reviews Neuroscience conducted a review of 49 separate studies concerning CBD as a therapeutic medicine for people with various types of anxiety disorders, including panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The review concluded that CBD showed strong evidence in reducing anxiety symptoms and encourages further research to be taken on the matter.
- In 2019, the Permanente Journal published a study concerning those who struggle with sleep due to anxiety. Within the first month of taking CBD, as many as 70% of the participants found their sleep had improved. However, it should be noted that the participants' sleep ended up varying over a longer period of time.
While these studies show positive results for CBD and anxiety, it's important to note that they are lacking in two ways. The first is they only measure CBD's effects in the short-term. Since cannabidiol has only recently been legalized, there has been no way to measure the long-term effects on individuals who take it regularly.
Secondly, many of these studies had a small number of participants. While this population most likely struggles with anxiety in a similar manner to other people with the mental health condition, it's medically understood that these conditions will have different effects on a variety of people. With that said, these studies don't provide enough conclusive evidence that CBD is a prominent therapeutic medicine for anxiety.
So, Should You Take CBD for Anxiety?
There is no easy way to answer this question as there simply isn't enough evidence to support us saying, "Yes! By all means, take CBD!" But at the same time, there is enough evidence out there for us to claim that it may help you.
The truth of the matter is, the only way to know whether or not CBD can help you with anxiety is to give it a try. Luckily, there is very little danger in trying CBD. Not only will it not cause psychoactivity (produce a "high"), but the side effects are rare and limited. If you start taking CBD regularly, you may experience the following:
- Appetite changes
- Weight changes
It should also be noted that CBD may have negative effects on the liver. While this isn't too much of a concern for most people, it is for those who take certain medications - more specifically, those that process through the liver. If you're currently on a medication, it's vital to consult your doctor before taking CBD.
How Should You Take CBD?
Due to CBD's popularity, there have been a number of innovative products flooding the marketplace. This is great for us as customers as it provides an assortment of options when it comes to consumptions. The most common consumption methods include:
- CBD capsules
- CBD edibles (i.e. CBD gummies or CBD beverages)
- CBD oils (tinctures)
- CBD topicals
- Smokables and vapes
In terms of anxiety, it's granted that those who struggle are looking for something that will have an immediate effect. Something that will kick in during one of anxiety's random episodes. The best consumption method for this is smokables and vapes. The reason is when CBD is inhaled into the lungs, it enters the bloodstream the quickest. Therefore, you'll feel the effects within minutes of inhaling.
This should deter you from considering other consumption methods. CBD oils, for example, will usually take an effect within 10 to 15 minutes upon consumption and will have longer-lasting effects compared to smokables and vapes. Similarly, edibles and capsules will have even longer-lasting effects than oils, but they will also take longer to enter the bloodstream - sometimes as long as an hour.
With this information, you may also be wondering how much CBD you should take. This will vary from person to person, depending on a number of factors, including:
- Anxiety Levels - How much anxiety do you experience? If your condition is chronic, you may need more CBD than someone who experiences mild anxiety.
- Body Weight - Generally speaking, the more you weigh, the more CBD you'll need in order to feel the effects.
- Strength of CBD - The higher the milligram (mg) count labeled on your CBD product, the less you'll need in order to feel the effects.
- Tolerance - If you've been taking CBD for some time, your brain and body may have become adjusted to it. Therefore, you may need more CBD in order to feel the initial effects.
We highly advise you first to take the "suggested use" amount labeled on your CBD product. This dosage generally works for most people and will probably be enough to get you to feel something. However, if you find that this suggestion isn't relieving your anxiety, then we suggest gradually increasing your dose.