Can CBD Really Lower Your Anxiety? Find Out
Anxiety disorders affect millions of people. In fact, the National Institute of Mental Health claims that approximately 19 percent of U.S. adults aged 18 or older suffered an anxiety disorder in the last year.
Physicians often write up prescriptions for drugs to treat anxiety disorders, such as Prozac, Zoloft, or Xanax. While these drugs can be very helpful for some, many people do not respond well to these treatments.
The side effects associated with these drugs can be uncomfortable, and many of them are considered highly addictive as well. Because of this, there are a lot of people opting for a safer and more natural alternative. That’s where CBD comes in.
Recently, cannabis has been in the spotlight as many states in the U.S. have legalized marijuana for medical and recreational purposes. More and more research studies are being done on the two main compounds in cannabis, THC and CBD, to discover the vast medical and psychological benefits they hold.
Preliminary studies reveal that cannabidiol (CBD), the main non-psychoactive component in cannabis, may be an effective natural compound to treat anxiety disorders.
In addition, the early scientific evidence suggests that CBD can ease pain and inflammation along with conditions like insomnia, depression, epilepsy, and more. As researchers continue to explore CBD, other health and wellness benefits could come to light.
Wait, Is CBD Going to Get Me High?
Nope, CBD will not cause any psychoactive effects.
Many people assume that anything that comes from the marijuana plant will get you high, but that's not true.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the compound found in cannabis that's responsible for its psychoactive effects. When you consume cannabis, THC induces the high feeling.
CBD, on the other hand, is the most prevalent non-psychoactive chemical compound found in the cannabis plant. It’s considered non-psychoactive because it doesn't alter your everyday consciousness.
CBD and THC are similar in that they’re natural cannabinoids with similar molecular structures. However, they produce nearly opposite effects on your body.
The molecular structure of THC interacts with your body in a way that produces a “high.” CBD has a slightly different molecular structure, and it interacts with your body in a unique way.
Once CBD binds to the receptors in your body, it causes your body to be more receptive to the natural feel-good chemicals your body produces. This improves your mood, helps you to sleep better, and even reduces your anxiety.
Now, that was a very basic explanation of the differences between THC and CBD. If you want a more in-depth explanation about why THC gets you high and CBD doesn’t, check out our article on THC vs CBD found here.
CBD’s Effect on Anxiety Disorders
Although both THC and CBD provide many medical benefits, CBD has been shown to be more effective in treating psychological conditions. In fact, CBD may be a beneficial option for dealing with some anxiety disorders, including:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Social phobias
- Panic disorder
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Based on CBD research studies, it's thought that one of the primary ways that CBD helps to ease anxiety is by helping the body process serotonin. It increases the availability of serotonin in the brain in order to help boost your mood, which allows the cannabinoid to help treat psychological disorders.
Research on CBD and Anxiety
To better understand CBD's effects, many research studies have been conducted.
One study conducted by Spanish researchers found that CBD enhances the actions of the serotonin, a neurotransmitter involved in the regulation of emotions. They discovered that CBD helps in the transmission of serotonin signals in the brain which are responsible for heightening moods and lowering anxiety.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), like Prozac and Zoloft, achieve a similar effect, although the study found that CBD may affect serotonin even faster than those drugs. This means that, in some cases, CBD may be even more effective in treating anxiety disorders than SSRIs.
Another study tested the use of CBD as a treatment for patients with anxiety and sleep disorders. The study also stated that most patients appreciated the opportunity to try a natural anxiety remedy and avoid the use of psychiatric medication.
Even better, the results found that, on average, "anxiety and sleep improved for most patients, and these improvements were sustained over time.”
CBD has also been found to reduce anxiety in patients with social anxiety disorder (SAD). The study suggested that “CBD reduces anxiety in SAD and that this is related to its effects on activity in limbic and paralimbic brain areas.”
Although scientists are beginning to understand how beneficial CBD can be for patients with anxiety, more human clinical trials need to be done on CBD to better understand its effects on the brain and various anxiety disorders.
How Do I Use CBD for Anxiety?
Before you begin using CBD, it’s important to talk to your doctor. Although when used on its own pure CBD is not known to produce any negative side effects, it can interact with medications like anti-seizure drugs and blood thinners. So, make sure your medications pair well with CBD.
Also, be sure to select CBD products that contain high-quality CBD. Many CBD products contain THC, which can aggravate anxiety. If you want to reduce your anxiety, you should avoid using CBD oils that contain trace amounts of THC.
Once you have determined that CBD is safe for you, it’s time to decide which CBD product you want to try. There are many different choices, from CBD gummies to vape cartridges. For first-time users, a tincture is a good option because it can easily be processed by the body.
Have you ever used CBD oil to treat your anxiety? We would love to hear about your experience in the comments below!
Jessica has been a freelance writer for four years, with a passion for science and health-related topics. She is also a lover of doing research and genuinely enjoys reading clinical studies, especially if it has anything to do with the emerging research on the health benefits of CBD. Jessica has a degree in behavioral science. She is a travel addict and an avid League of Legends player. She is also a proud dog mom to a Husky and an Australian Shepherd, so she’s frequently covered in dog fur and utterly exhausted from their constant shenanigans.