Cannabidiol, better known as CBD, has been touted as an effective treatment for anxiety, but is there any truth to these claims? Recent studies appear to support the theory.
Anxiety affects an estimated 40 million (or about 18%) adults in the United States. Drugs like Zoloft and Prozac, which are SSRIs, do not work for everyone. Studies suggest that CBD, a non-psychoactive in cannabis, may be a viable alternative to conventional anxiety medications.
Evidence also suggests that CBD counteracts the adverse effects of THC, and studies suggest that CBD oil has potent anti-anxiety properties. When properly administered, CBD can be used to treat: social phobia, panic disorder, mild to moderate depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.
How does CBD help treat anxiety? The compound appears to have several effects on the brain. It’s important to note that much of the research related to CBD and anxiety is based on animal studies.
The being said, pre-clinical studies do provide some insight into how CBD may calm anxiety.
CBD is believed to be a 5-HT1A antagonist. 5-HT1A is a type of serotonin receptor. Conventional anxiety medications typically target the serotonin system, preventing reabsorption in the brain and making more serotonin available in the synaptic space.
CBD works in a similar way by boosting signals to serotonin receptors. One animal study showed that CBD boosted 5-HT1A transmission and may impact serotonin at a faster pace than SSRIs.
Cannabidiol may also enhance hippocampal neurogenesis. Depression treatments often focus on triggering the birth of new neurons in the hippocampus, the area of the brain that’s responsible for cognition and memory formation.
Research suggests that CBD may help promote neurogenesis.
A handful of small human studies also supports the theory that CBD can be used to treat anxiety.
A double-blind study out of Brazil looked at CBD’s effects on patients with generalized anxiety disorder. Participants reported a significant decrease in anxiety after consuming CBD.
The patients’ responses were validated using brain scans, which showed cerebral blood flow patterns that were consistent with anti-anxiety effects.
Researchers in another small study looked at patients suffering from social anxiety disorder. The researchers asked participants to take a simulated public speaking test. The participants were given CBD and reported having significantly less anxiety. The findings were supported by anxiety indicators, like blood pressure and heart rate.
Along with anxiety, CBD has also been touted as an effective treatment for: psoriasis, insomnia, bacterial growth, artery blockage, hyperglycemia, cancer cell growth, nervous system degeneration, muscle spasms, bone degeneration, seizures, psychosis, convulsions, low appetite, chronic pain, inflammation, nausea and vomiting.
Unlike THC, CBD does not create a psycho-active effect and will not get users “high.” In fact, this compound prevents users from getting too high when consuming the cannabis plant. Isolated CBD, like CBD oil, will provide all of the medical benefits associated with marijuana, but without the psycho-active or negative effects that THC can cause.
While CBD is considered relatively safe for use by the public, it can interfere with the liver’s ability to process some medications and make them less effective. Users should talk to their doctors before taking CBD If they are on medication of any kind.