Cannabidiol (CBD) is obtained from cannabis plant and can be used in the form of oil. It has high concentration of cannabinoids (chemicals) that attach to special brain receptors. A very well-known cannabinoid is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which gives a feeling of high that people get after using marijuana. CBD does not produce any mind-altering effect. However, it binds to the brain receptors, but in a different way. CBD hemp oil is made from hemp that contains high amount of CBD and considerably low amount of THC.
Advocates of CBD say that CBD has many benefits related to health like speeding down the growth of cancer and bettering mental health. CBD oil can be added to food and is used in cooking. A few drops can be taken as medication.
Coming to anxiety, it is an emotional state marked by tension, worry, nervousness and elevated blood pressure. It may happen to anyone. In fact, anxiety is the normal response of the body to deal with stress. This helps in identifying and averting potential dangers. However, a person said to be suffering from anxiety disorder when there is excessive and intense anxiety along with the presence of other severe symptoms. When this mental condition is not managed properly, it can have a disastrous effect on our health, relationships and work.
With therapies and medications, anxiety is treatable. So many drugs have been developed to treat anxiety. These include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRIs) like fluoxetine and tranquilizers like alprazolam. These drugs are effective for some patients, but may not work for quite a lot of them. Moreover, there are many side effects of these drugs. Further, tranquilizers can form a habit and patients may develop an addiction for such medicines. So, people look out for alternatives. Now, the question arises whether CBD, a non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis, be an alternative treatment for anxiety.
Many studies reveal that CBD has anti-anxiety properties. It is safe for use and is well tolerated. It can be used in the treatment of a number of anxiety-related disorders like obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and depression.
CBD interact with chemicals in the brain in a specific way, which could give a possible explanation as to why it can be useful in treating anxiety. However, when it comes to the effectiveness of CBD in treating medical conditions, it should be noted is that most studies have been conducted on animal models and it may not translate to humans.
Also, it would be worth mentioning that anxiety and related conditions can be treated with medicines that hit the serotonin system. That is why medicines like fluoxetine and sertraline have been developed. These work by blocking the reabsorption of serotonin (a neurotransmitter) in the brain. This increases the amount of serotonin in the synaptic connections – points through which a neuron sends electrical or chemical signal to another neuron. Thus, brain cells transfer more serotonin, which reduces anxiety and elevates mood.
Just like SSRIs, CBD may enhance the signaling via serotonin receptors. Studies have found that CBD boosts the transmission of 5-HT1A (a subtype of serotonin receptors). Also, it may affect serotonin quicker than SSRIs. Thus, the fast working (antidepressant action) of CBD and its anti-anxiety effect have the potential to overcome the shortcomings of the current antidepressant medications.
Hippocampus, an organ located within the brain, has an important role in many brain functions. It has a critical role in functions like memory formation and cognition. If one looks at the brain scan of the people with depression, one could notice that hippocampus is relatively smaller, and the treatment of these conditions entails the formation of new neurons in the hippocampus. This is known as neurogenesis.
A study on mice revealed that administration of CBD may help regenerate neurons in the hippocampus, which could help treat anxiety and depression. Research has established that both SSRIs and CBD promote neurogenesis.
After studies on animals, human studies are now proving that the use of CBD can help one get rid of anxiety disorder and related conditions. Researchers from Brazil conducted a study on patients with generalized social anxiety. When the participants consumed CBD, they reported significant reduction in their anxiety. The results were validated by observing brain scans that showed blood flow patterns consistent with anxiolytic effect.
Another study, in which, patients with social anxiety disorder, who were made to speak at a public gathering, reported less anxiety. The findings were validated by anxiety indicators like blood pressure and heart rate. It was concluded in the study that use of CBD helped manage anxiety and discomfort in speech performance. The control group experienced anxiety and discomfort along with cognitive impairment while speaking.
Animal studies have revealed how CBD acts in the brain. Human studies have recently started to show the effectiveness of CBD as an anti-anxiety agent. The social and health care costs of anxiety related disorders is huge in the U.S. CBD plays a significant role in treating these disorders.
While more research is needed to examine the long-term effects of CBD, its demonstrated efficacy and a favorable safety profile make it a viable treatment in addition to the existing treatments.