We got some bad news and some good news for you.
The bad news: according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), 18.1% of the adult American population suffers from anxiety. That’s about 1 in 5 adults reading this message, so… A lot.
As if that wasn’t enough, it’s estimated that about 33.7% of people worldwide will be affected by an anxiety disorder at some point in their life.
The good news: anxiety disorders are highly treatable, and they don’t always require conventional medications. In fact, many people report experiencing a huge relief from taking cannabidiol (CBD) for their anxiety.
But does it really work? If so, at what cost? Doesn’t it make you high as a kite?
A quick reminder: what is CBD?
Before we move on to the interesting stuff, let’s take a moment to refresh what you may have heard about cannabidiol.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the main active compounds of the Cannabis sativa plant.
It doesn’t have any psychoactive properties (in other words, you can’t get high on CBD alone)
CBD is actually ”anti-psychoactive” since it counteracts tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the main psychoactive component of marijuana
CBD is extracted from hemp, a special variety of the cannabis plant that’s grown to have no more than 0.3% of THC (compared to the 20%+ in the marijuana used for recreation)
In the US, CBD extracted from hemp is federally legal according to the Farm Bill of 2018
Cool, that should have sorted out most of the misconceptions that many people have about CBD.
Now let’s get more specific.
How CBD works? Can it really help with anxiety?
There’s a special group of receptors and molecules in your body, collectively known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS). It consists of cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) and the substances that interact with them.
The substances that interact with the cannabinoid receptors in the body can either be produced in the body itself (then they’re called endocannabinoids) or come from a plant source (these are called phytocannabinoids).
One of the most famous and well-researched endocannabinoids is anandamide, a fatty acid neurotransmitter that evokes euphoria, soothes anxiety, and seems to be responsible for the ”runner’s high” that long-distance runners often report. Anandamide does this mainly by interacting with the CB1 receptor in the central nervous system.
CBD is a phytocannabinoid that can tweak the activity of cannabinoid receptors even though it doesn’t bind much to either CB1 or CB2 itself. For instance, some studies suggest CBD enhances the action of anandamide—an effect that could be beneficial during anxiety.
Given that cannabinoid receptors are scattered all around the human body, it’s not really surprising that CBD seems to balance and adjust the functions of all the systems and organs:
- CB1 receptors are located mostly in the central nervous system, lungs, kidneys
- CB2 receptors are found in the immune system, the spleen, the peripheral nerves and the gastrointestinal system
There’s also emerging evidence about one more type of cannabinoid receptors, non-CB1 and non-CB2, which is found on the inner lining of blood vessels.
Truth be told, scientists can’t tell how exactly CBD works yet, but there’s a ton of studies suggesting that it could have a highly beneficial effect on anxiety.
CBD and anxiety: what do the studies say?
Although it’s too early to say that CBD is a guaranteed help for any case of anxiety, here are some highly encouraging findings reported by recent studies:
- In a 2019 study, 72 adults with anxiety and poor sleep received a month of CBD treatment. 79.2% of the participants reported an improvement in their anxiety levels and 66.7% said they started sleeping better.
- A 2018 survey revealed that the top 3 medical conditions that people treat with CBD are pain, anxiety, and depression—and 36% of participants reported that cannabidiol helps them ”very well.”
- A 2018 study reported that CBD could help with the anxiety associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), so that’s another potential application of the compound.
- According to a massive review from 2015, CBD taken orally in doses between 300 and 600 mg was able to soothe experimentally induced anxiety (without improving baseline anxiety levels)—and effectively help with social anxiety disorder (SAD).
- An animal study from 2013 reported that the anti-anxiety effect of CBD could be based on its ability to increase the anandamide (the body’s ”feel good” own cannabinoid) levels in the hippocampus.
To summarize, it seems that CBD’s anti-anxiety effects are based on its ability to balance the function and sensitivity of the body’s own cannabinoid and serotonin receptors, as well as tweak the blood flow through certain parts of the brain.
And still, the scientific community can’t recommend CBD as a guaranteed way of soothing one’s anxiety. More studies are needed to check its long-term effects, possible interactions with other substances, yada yada.
That’s understandable and everything, but many people are already reporting that it works for them.
Should you try it out? Well, that’s for you to choose. Our goal is to give you all the facts. 🙂
Living with anxiety is like getting early access to Hell while you’re still alive.
As if that wasn’t bad enough by itself, conventional anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) medications come with their own side effects and potential dangers, so… It’s kind of a hard matter to deal with.
Of course, severe cases of anxiety should be thoroughly discussed with a qualified professional and treated with the best stuff medicine can offer. For mild to moderate cases, though, you could consider trying out a natural remedy to see if it works for you.
Besides CBD, here are some promising options reviewed in recent studies:
- Black cohosh
Give them a go when you have the chance! These herbs and fruits aren’t an overnight fix to anxiety, but they’re fairly safe to take and don’t cause any nasty side effects whatsoever.
– The Cost Plus Nutrition Team