CBD and Anxiety
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a normal response to stress or danger. It is the body’s automatic flight-or-fight response that is triggered when one feels under pressure or threatened. This response causes adrenaline to be quickly pumped through the body so it is able to cope with whatever stress or danger that may come its way. The problem occurs when the response to stress is out of proportion to the actual danger of the situation, or when the anxiety is constant and interferes with your day-to-day life.
Are anxiety disorders common?
Anxiety disorders are very common. In 2013 there were 8.2 million cases of anxiety in the UK(1). More than 1 in 10 people are likely to have “disabling anxiety disorder” at some stage in their life(2). Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent psychiatric disorders. According to epidemiological surveys, one third of the population is affected by an anxiety disorder during their lifetime(3).
According to the World Health Organisation, the total estimated number of people living with anxiety disorders in the world is 264 million (10).
The physical symptoms of anxiety can include: (4)
- Pounding heart
- Shortness of Breath
- Dry mouth
The psychological symptoms of anxiety can include:
- Anticipating the worst
- Feeling detached
CBD and anxiety
CBD has enormous health advantages, including treating anxiety. Several animal studies and evidence from human experimental, clinical, and epidemiological studies suggest that CBD plays a powerful role in reducing anxiety. These studies strongly support the potential use of CBD for anxiety disorders (5) (6) (7).
Many pharmaceutical anti-anxiety medications can be associated with potential side effects such as; drowsiness, stomach upset, headaches, and insomnia (9), however studies show that CBD reduces anxiety with few or no negative side effects (5).
CBD oil has even been used to safely treat insomnia and anxiety in children with post-traumatic stress disorder. (8)
How CBD works for treating anxiety
Serotonin: CBD specifically binds to 5-HT1A (11), a specific receptor of serotonin, which is important because anxiety can be treated with medications that target the serotonin system. Similar to these anti-anxiety medications, CBD is thought to boost signalling through serotonin receptors. This receptor is thought to play the strongest role in anxiety disorders (12).
Hippocampal Neurogenesis: The hippocampus is an important part of the brain. It plays a role in regulating emotions, and also in memory formation and cognition. Stress and anxiety can cause damage to neurons and brain scans of patients suffering with anxiety often show a smaller hippocampus (13). An animal study found repeated administration of CBD could help the hippocampus in the regeneration of neurons (14). Many studies have shown that CBD encourages neural regeneration (15).