How can CBD help with anxiety?

How can CBD help with anxiety?

Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, is a naturally occurring substance found in the cannabis plant. CBD is one of several cannabinoids found in cannabis, but unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), it does not produce psychoactive and addictive effects or a "high".

CBD interacts with two main types of receptors in the ECS: CB1 receptors, primarily found in the brain, and CB2 receptors, primarily found in the immune system and peripheral tissues. However, unlike THC, CBD does not directly bind to these receptors.

It influences the activity of various neurotransmitters in the brain, including serotonin, dopamine, and anandamide. It can enhance the availability of these neurotransmitters, which play a role in regulating mood, pain perception, and other bodily functions. Learn more about CBD here.

CBD has recently received more and more attention for its believed therapeutic benefits for many health conditions, including the ability to alleviate anxiety disorders.

What exactly is anxiety?

Anxiety is a common human emotion that arises in response to stress or perceived threats. (Think ‘fight or flight’). While general worry is a temporary experience tied to specific situations, clinical anxiety disorders are more severe and persistent, significantly impacting your daily life.

General worry, also known as everyday or situational anxiety, is a normal part of life. It involves temporary feelings of unease, nervousness, or apprehension in response to certain events or circumstances. Once the situation passes or the concern is addressed, the worry typically subsides.

While occasional worry and anxiety are normal, persistent and overwhelming anxiety may indicate a clinical anxiety disorder. Seeking support from healthcare professionals is crucial in managing these conditions and improving overall well-being.

Clinical Anxiety Disorders

There are numerous types of anxiety-related illnesses, each with its own set of symptoms. The following are some of the most prevalent kinds of anxiety disorders (although these descriptions are very brief, anxiety disorders themselves are extremely complex, and each person’s set of symptoms can vary):

  • Generalised Anxiety Disorder. Otherwise known as GAD is characterised by excessive, uncontrollable worry and tension that lasts at least 6 months. People suffering from GAD may be concerned about a variety of issues, including their well-being, finances, health and relationships. They may also experience physical anxiety symptoms such as muscle tension, headaches, and trouble falling asleep.

  • Panic disorders. Panic disorder is distinguished by sudden and unexpected panic attacks. Panic attacks are periods of intense fear and anxiety that can result in a variety of physical symptoms, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, and dizziness. People suffering from panic disorder may be anxious about developing another panic attack.

  • Social Anxiety. An extreme fear of social situations characterises Social Anxiety Disorder (also known as social phobia). People suffering from social anxiety disorder may be concerned about feeling judged or ashamed in public. They might avoid social situations entirely or attend to them only in a limited capacity.

women hands in head worried anxiety
So how can CBD help with anxiety?

The exact mechanisms through which CBD may help alleviate anxiety are still being studied, but there are a few ways in which it may have an impact:

Interaction with the endocannabinoid system: CBD interacts with the body's endocannabinoid system (as explained in our previous blog), which plays a role in regulating various physiological processes, including mood, sleep and stress response.

It is believed that CBD can modulate the activity of certain receptors in this system, potentially influencing anxiety levels.

Serotonin receptors: CBD may interact with serotonin receptors in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter known to regulate mood and emotions. By influencing serotonin receptor activity, CBD may help promote a sense of calmness and reduce anxiety symptoms.

Neuroprotective effects: Some research suggests that CBD may have neuroprotective properties, which means it could help protect the brain from stress and damage caused by anxiety or other factors. By supporting brain health, CBD might indirectly contribute to anxiety relief.

It's important to note that while there is growing scientific interest in CBD's potential therapeutic effects for anxiety, more research is needed to understand its mechanisms and efficacy fully.

As always, if you are considering using CBD for anxiety, we advise that you consult with a healthcare professional or specialist who can provide you with personalised guidance and support based on your specific circumstances and symptoms. Remember, you don't have to face anxiety alone.

If you find that your anxiety is becoming overwhelming or interfering with your ability to live a fulfilling life, reaching out for help is an important step towards finding relief and support.

Here are some charities that can help:

• Skelley, J. W., Deas, C. M., Curren, Z., & Ennis, J. (2020). Use of cannabidiol in anxiety and anxiety-related disorders. Journal of the American Pharmacists Association, 60(1), 253-261.
• Shannon, S., Lewis, N., Lee, H., & Hughes, S. (2019). Cannabidiol in anxiety and sleep: a large case series. The Permanente Journal, 23.
• Corroon, J., & Felice, J. F. (2019). The Endocannabinoid System and its Modulation by Cannabidiol (CBD). Alternative Therapies in Health & Medicine, 25

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