Reading time - 8 minutes - January 20, 2023
Anxiety has quickly become one of the most prevalent mental health conditions, affecting an estimated 4% of the world’s population in 2019 – and it is only becoming more common. The term “anxiety” is regularly used to refer to a number of conditions, such as Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Social Anxiety Disorder, but it can also be a symptom and comorbidity of countless other health conditions, from chronic pain to Alzheimer’s disease. Anxiety can significantly affect various areas of a person’s life and is often associated with poor motivation, poor sleep, and lower quality of life.
Common treatment options for anxiety include the use of antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Many of these medications can be useful for managing anxiety, however, they often also have significant side effects and risk of dependence.
The high prevalence of anxiety in the general population combined with unfavourable treatment options has left many people looking for alternative therapies. In recent years, one product, in particular, has been heralded by many as an effective natural remedy for anxiety, despite underdeveloped scientific and clinical research. So, why are so many people using CBD to tackle anxiety and – most importantly – does it actually work?
cannabinoid is continuing to prompt clinical research into its potential therapeutic and medicinal properties. Nonetheless, when discussing CBD in relation to any health condition, it is important to remember that current high-quality evidence remains significantly underdeveloped. So, with that said, what is the link between CBD and anxiety?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of a number of naturally occurring and synthetic compounds that is able to interact with the body’s Endocannabinoid System (ECS). This receptor system has been found to play a role in various physiological functions, including pain signalling, temperature control, and mood modulation. It is the last of these functions that concerns CBD and anxiety.
CBD has been observed to interact with a number of receptors in the body – including cannabinoid receptors associated with the ECS. These interactions are thought to trigger the release of several natural chemicals, such as serotonin and anandamide (AEA), both of which impact our mood – including our anxiety levels.
As we mentioned earlier, an ever-growing number of people around the world have begun to add CBD to their wellness routines. For many of these consumers, CBD’s perceived anti-anxiety benefits play a significant role in their use of CBD products such as CBD oils and edibles. In fact, there is an abundance of anecdotal evidence to support this potential. That is, there are countless real-world accounts from CBD users who report having experienced improvements in their stress and anxiety levels.This success has led to the development of versatile CBD products and contributed to the CBD boom that is still continuing to grow (check out our recent blog post: ‘Which Form of CBD is the Most Effective’. This popularity is only bolstered by the favourable side effect profile and tolerability of CBD. For example, CBD – even in acute doses – is generally well-tolerated by the vast majority of people. The World Health Organisation has even released its own statement, declaring that “in its pure state, cannabidiol does not appear to have abuse potential or cause harm.”
Furthermore, side effects associated with CBD use are minimal, with drowsiness and dry mouth being among the most commonly reported. Understandably, many people consider this a more favourable option to traditional anti-anxiety medications that often come with unwanted side effects. However, it is important to also take the existing clinical evidence into account.
As we have already touched upon, clinical evidence for the anti-anxiety potential of CBD remains scarce – but that isn’t to say that there isn’t any. In fact, the few studies that have been carried out have returned promising results. For example, a 2015 review reported that “evidence from human studies supports an anxiolytic role of CBD” and that “current evidence indicates CBD has considerable potential as a treatment for multiple anxiety disorders…”
Since this report, a number of other clinical studies have focused on the anti-anxiety potential of CBD. A 2022 study of full-spectrum, high-CBD treatment for anxiety found that participants were able to “Quickly achieve and maintain symptom reduction with few side effects.”
Studies such as these continue to support the potential of CBD as a novel treatment for anxiety; however, consumers should always proceed with care and caution. CBD products hold the potential to interact with other medications causing undesirable effects. It is, therefore, important to consult a medical professional if you are considering introducing CBD into your wellness routine – particularly if you are currently taking any other medications.
Nonetheless, support for the anti-anxiety potential of CBD is only increasing by the year. These findings could soon unlock an effective and low-risk option for millions of people facing anxiety disorders around the world.
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