CBD for Anxiety

By Dr. Nicole Cain
Aug 31, 2019
8:00 am

Treating Anxiety With CBD

Have you heard that people have been using CBD for anxiety but are curious if it really works? If so, you’re in the right place!

In this article we will discuss the following topics:

  • What are cannabinoids?
  • What is the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)?
  • Is CBD safe?
  • Is CBD useful in treating anxiety?

Let’s dive in!

Anxiety is very prevalent among the average person as life throws its everyday stressors. Anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder (PD), and social anxiety disorder (SAD) as well as those not characterized under anxiety disorders, but have some of the same overlapping symptoms (excessive fear and worry), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), have a “lifetime prevalence” in the United States alone of 29% (Blessing, Steenkamp, Manzanares, & Marmar 2015, p. 825).

In the research, cannabidiol oil (CBD) has been shown to be an anxiolytic, which means that it can reduce or stop anxiety. But what does that mean for you? Is CBD a viable option in treating your anxiety?

First we need to understand what CBD is and explore its origins.

What are cannabinoids?

CBD is a cannabinoid. Cannabinoids are compounds that come from nature or are made by our bodies that interact with your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). Your ECS regulates your metabolism, energy, concentration, sleep, mood, inflammation, pain and more. Treatment that support the ECS can be helpful in those who are symptomatic due to the ECS being out of balance.

Where does CBD come from?

CBD is a “cannabinoid” that comes from the cannabis plant. Cannabis is a generic name for a group of plants from the Cannabaceae family. Examples include: Cannabis indica, Cannabis ruderalis and Cannabis sativa.

Another cannabinoid that you may have heard of is 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBD and THC are totally different compounds and have different effects on the brain and body.

The THC compound is known for its psychoactive effects (that high feeling people get when consuming the plan), while CBD does not produce any psychoactive effects.

Is CBD Safe?

The FDA has not yet approved cannabis as a medical treatment, however the NIH has researched CBD and have reported that these compounds offer promising therapeutic potential for adults and children suffering from mental health concerns, pain, inflammation, seizures and other endocrine/ hormonal abnormalities. While the research is promising, in order to determine if CBD is appropriate for you, seek consultation with a trained integrative clinician.

Does CBD Work for Treating Anxiety?

Research has shown that CBD is useful in the treatment of anxiety. CBD interacts with numerous receptors in your brain that are involved in regulating both anxiety and fear-related behaviors (Blessing et al, 2015, p. 826). If you want to do further research, the main receptors CBD interacts with concerning anxiety are CB1R, 5-HT1A, TRP, and TRPV1 (Blessing et al, 2015, p. 826).

A study by Shannon, Lewis, Lee, & Hughes (2019) showed that CBD decreased anxiety scores significantly and participants continued to feel relief throughout the study as they did monthly assessments (Shannon et al, 2019, p. 20).

In another study, this one by Crippa and colleagues (2011), it was found that CBD was helpful in treatment of social anxiety disorder (Crippa et al, 2011, p. 121). CBD greatly reduced volunteers’ personal perceived anxiety (Crippa et al, 2011, p. 121).

In people suffering from PTSD/ Anxiety/ Panic disorder, we often see an increase in activation of several areas in the brain such as the “amygdala, hippocampus, hypothalamus, and posterior cingulate cortex.” CBD has been shown to regulate these overactivations and relieve symptoms (Soares & Campos, 2017, p. 292).

Other brain areas impacted by panic attacks include: “medial and left temporal lobes, prefrontal cortex, and insula” and researchers have found that CBD can also help to regulate these areas (Soares & Campos, 2017, p. 292).

As the studies above have reported, CBD can have a great positive effect on the areas of the brain related to anxiety (Soares & Campos, 2017, p. 292). CBD is also useful for high achievers, and those in the public eye. For example, Zuardi et al reported that CBD relieves public speaking anxiety, and has a better result on speech testing efficacy on volunteers as compared to benzodiazepines. (Zuardi et al, 1993, p. 82).

Our conclusion is that CBD can be incredibly helpful in treating anxiety, improving public speaking, and regulating the nervous system at large without the harmful side effects often seen with benzodiazepine pharmaceutical use. CBD offers excellent potential as a therapy to help reduce the need of benzodiazepines and improve the health in the long term, too.

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Resources

Blessing, E. M., Steenkamp, M. M., Manzanares, J., & Marmar, C. R. (2015). Cannabidiol as a Potential

Treatment for Anxiety Disorders. Neurotherapeutics : the journal of the American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics, 12(4), 825–836. doi:10.1007/s13311-015-0387-1

Crippa, J.A., Derenusson, G.N., Ferrari, T.B., Wichert-Ana, L., Duran, F.L., Martin-Santos, R., Simoes,

M.V., Bhattacharyya, S., Fusar-Poli, P., Atakan, Z., Santos Filho, A., Freitas-Ferrari, M.C., McGuire, P.K., Zuardi, A.W., Bussatto, G.F., & Hallak, J.E. (2011). Neural basis of anxiolytic effects of cannabidiol (CBD) in generalized social anxiety disorder: a preliminary report. Journal of psychopharmacology, 25(1), 121-130. doi 10.1177/0269881110379283

Shannon, S., Lewis, N., Lee, H., & Hughes, S. (2019). Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case

Series. The Permanente Journal, 23, 18–041. doi:10.7812/TPP/18-041

Soares, V. P., & Campos, A. C. (2017). Evidences for the Anti-panic Actions of Cannabidiol. Current

neuropharmacology, 15(2), 291–299. doi:10.2174/1570159X14666160509123955

Zuardi, A.W., Cosme, R.A., & Guimaraes, F.S. (1993). Effects of ipsapirone and cannabidiol oil on

human experimental anxiety. Journal of psychopharmacology, 7(1 Suppl), 82-8. doi 10.1177/026988119300700112