One of the most popular uses of CBD is to help cope with Anxiety. The reason people love CBD for anxiety is because the effects are usually felt from the first dose and CBD doesn't have the same side effects of SSRI's or withdrawal symptom.
In this post we will discuss how CBD works in the body to promote calmness and help better cope with Anxiety.
Where Does Anxiety Come From?
Many people in America suffer from anxiety and even those who aren't clinically diagnosed with anxiety still suffer from it, maybe not in a debilitating way but still on a daily basis.
Anxiety doesn't just pop up out of the blue, the biggest source of anxiety is stress. Chronic stress trains your brain to feel anxious — it wants you to “remember” so you can anticipate (and hopefully avoid) more stress in the future.
This would normally be a good thing and part of our basic instincts if we were hunters and had to be on high alert for any surrounding dangers. Unfortunately, in our society we do not need to be on a constant high alert, therefore this heightened sense of worry and alertness only puts a strain on our nervous system, our mental health and physical health. The battering our body takes from the overload of stress will lead to chronic anxiety which can't be undone that easily with a few breathing exercises.
Small bursts of stress hormones tell your body to prepare for a “fight or flight” situation. Unfortunately, our bodies weren’t designed to handle a perpetual state of panic. Chronically high levels of stress hormones — particularly cortisol — wreak havoc everywhere, with consequences that can lead to depression, heart diseases, fatigue, weight gain and a weakened immune systems.
Each person will react differently to stress. The way the body will manifest stress in the body will depend on may of your unique biological responses. Usually, stress will attack the most vulnerable parts of our bodies since they are already in a weakened state and have low immunity.
Stress Will Change Your Brain Chemistry
In addition to damaging your body, chronic stress also rewires your brain. Stress hormones tell the brain to: “Focus, feel less and get ready.” Unfortunately, when this message is never turned off, your brain will make changes to tune out the message.
Scientists are still discovering the many layers of changes that take place in response to chronic stress — but they include both the brain’s structure and chemistry. Certain regions of the brain become hyperactive, while others atrophy and even shrink, and levels of neurotransmitters (like serotonin, dopamine and endocannabinoids) and their receptors also change.
Even if you manage to de-stress your life, these changes could persist — along with their negative impacts on the rest of your body. When this happens, you may need support restoring balance to your brain.
So How Does CBD Help With Anxiety?
Cannabidiol has more than 65 targets throughout the body, which makes it difficult to pinpoint the sources of its many different therapeutic properties. Studies currently suggest that CBD counters anxiety by stimulating neurotransmitter systems and neural regeneration. Here’s the evidence:
- Serotonin: Most people associate serotonin with happiness. However, the role of this neurotransmitter is very complex, and its effects depend on where it is and what it binds to. (Contrary to popular belief, more serotonin is not necessarily better — dysfunction can stem from low or high levels of serotonin, as well as from malfunctions with their receptors.) Serotonin has at least 14 different receptors, but CBD specifically binds to 5-HT1A which is thought to have the strongest role in anxiety disorders. The anti-anxiety drug buspirone also binds to this particular receptor, which explains the anti-anxiety effects of CBD on rats exposed to stressful situations.
- Endocannabinoids: Your body naturally produces cannabinoids, which are used throughout your body and brain in the endocannabinoid system. This system can become dysregulated under chronic stress. However, CBD could help restore balance to the endocannabinoid system by preventing overstimulation of your CB1 receptors and by boosting your body’s production of endocannabinoids. Rodent experiments show that CBD relieves OCD and other anxious behaviours by acting on the endocannabinoid system, which is involved in processing and forgetting our fears — vital for extinction learning.
- Neural regeneration: Although chronic stress can damage neurons and even shrink brains, certain areas of the brain are still capable of regeneration. Throughout our lives we continue to form new neurons, make new connections, and grow our brains — and CBD apparently boosts this process. This means that CBD could help to counterbalance the brain damage caused by chronic stress. Numerous studies have proved that CBD encourages neural regeneration, particularly in the hippocampus. In fact, its ability to reduce anxiety in chronically-stressed mice comes from CBD’s power to stimulate the growth of new neurons.
The Medical Research
A small 2010 study found that cannabidiol could reduce symptoms of social anxiety in people with social anxiety disorder (SAD). Brain scans of participants revealed changes in blood flow to the regions of the brain linked to feelings of anxiety.
A 2011 study also found that cannabidiol could reduce social anxiety. For that study, researchers looked specifically at cannabidiol to treat anxiety associated with public speaking.
A 2015 analysis of previous studies concluded that CBD oil is a promising treatment for numerous forms of anxiety, including social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Research into the use of cannabis (Marijuana) suggests that it may have negative health effects, particularly when a person smokes it.
Studies into cannabidiol specifically, however, have found few or no negative side effects.
This means that CBD oil may be a good option for people who cannot tolerate the side effects of other medications for anxiety, including addiction.