The use of cannabis may not be legal in all corners of the world because of its addictive quality, but specific chemicals found in the plant do have some health benefits. Cannabidiol (CBD) is one example of these constituents. Recent studies have shown that it helps in relieving anxiety without providing the “high” sensation that people commonly associate with cannabis.
What is Anxiety?
When we are afraid of something, our body immediately responds by getting anxious. In a way, it is our body’s way of keeping us safe. It is normal for people to feel anxious from time to time. It is even considered helpful in certain situations. Let’s say you are walking home from a tiring day at work. You are exhausted but as soon as you see and feel that someone is following you, you suddenly get a surge of energy flowing through you. This allows you to run away from a dangerous situation.
Here are some of the symptoms of anxiety:
- increased heart rate
- sweaty hands
- “butterfly” sensation in the stomach
- gastrointestinal problems
- bursts of energy
If you end up feeling too much anxiety, it could become unhealthy for you. Excessive fear is maladaptive and may even lead to disability. When it affects your life severely, you could experience one of the many anxiety disorders, which includes:
- Generalized anxiety disorder – worrying excessively about anything and everything
- Agoraphobia – anxious of experiencing a panic attack and not being able to get away
- Social anxiety disorder – anxiety in social situations
- Panic disorder – repeated instances of sudden anxiety and fear
- Specific phobias – extreme fear of particular things or situations
Current Medications to Treat Anxiety
Doctors all over the world prescribe specific pharmacological treatments for people with anxiety, such as:
- Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors
- Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors
- Tricyclic Antidepressants
- Partial 5-Hydroxytryptamine Receptor Agonists
Because of the lack of medications for this medical condition, there is a need for pharmaceutical companies to come up with novel treatments.
What is Cannabidiol (CBD)
Cannabidiol is one of the many cannabinoids found in cannabis plants, such as marijuana and hemp. There are several varieties and strains of these plants and if you’ve ever considered growing your own marijuana, the yield is surely an important factor. You can check this article for more information. CBD is an essential component of these plants since it is responsible for most of its health benefits. Fortunately, it does not cause you to get “high” because that sensation is caused by a different constituent, which is Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
How CBD Relieves Anxiety
In the human body, there are various kinds of receptors. These are protein-based chemical structures that can be found on the surface of cells. Only specific chemicals can attach to certain receptors to stimulate a signal or reaction.
CBD interacts with CB1 and CB2 receptors, which you can find in the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system. Throughout the body, CBD has over 65 targets.
It most likely alters serotonin signals in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a significant role in each person’s mental health. When the levels of this chemical are low, you can be undergoing depression or anxiety. CBD binds to 5-HT1A, which has the most significant role in anxiety disorders.
Our body naturally makes cannabinoids in the endocannabinoid system. When you are under chronic stress, the entire endocannabinoid system becomes dysregulated. CBD helps restore balance to the system by preventing CB1 from getting overstimulated and boosts the production of endocannabinoids.
Another effect of CBD is neural regeneration. This process is essential, especially during chronic stress and anxiety, because these situations damage your neurons. CBD speeds up the process of forming new neurons and repairing the brain. In short, it counterbalances and addresses the brain damage that chronic stress causes.
Before taking or using any CBD products, you will have to talk about it with your practitioner first. There’s no general guidelines for the dosage since each person is intrinsically different from the other.
However, in a 2018 study, the researchers specified that a 300 mg oral dose of CBD was enough to reduce their anxiety. The research subjects took the said dose 90 minutes before a simulated public speaking test.
Just like any other medical remedy, CBD does have its own set of side effects, such as:
- changes in weight and appetite
- dryness of mouth
- temporary dizziness
- lower blood pressure (even in people with normal BP)
Similar to grapefruit, CBD interferes with your body’s capacity to metabolize drugs. People who drink blood thinners should be especially warned before taking CBD. If these drugs do not get metabolized on time and stay in the bloodstream longer than expected, the effects are also prolonged, which could be dangerous or even lethal.
Another thing to remember is never to stop taking your CBD suddenly before talking with your doctor. If you do, there is a possibility that you could experience some withdrawal symptoms, such as:
- clouding of consciousness (brain or mental fog)
Is CBD Legal?
The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, also known as the Farm Bill, legalized the manufacturing and use of CBD from hemp plants. It also specified that only those that contain less than 0.3% THC are allowed. Those derived from the marijuana plant are still illegal, according to the Controlled Substances Act. Marijuana is still categorized as a Schedule 1 drug, which means it has no approved medical use and has a high potential for abuse.
As of today, the FDA has yet to approve the use of CBD pills, oils, and edibles that claim to relieve anxiety, reduce pain, and prevent the metastasizing of cancer. They are currently debating on what to do with the violators and what enforcement actions to administer.
Other Potential Benefits of CBD
1. Sleep aid
Other than relieving your anxiety, using CBD can help you fall asleep faster and stay that way until the next morning.
Although studies conducted so far are insufficient, CBD has shown that it could potentially treat depression. According to a review in the Journal of Chemical Neuroanatomy, CBD even reacts faster than the available antidepressant medications.
3. Pain relief
CBD reduces chronic pain by interfering with the endocannabinoid receptor activity, which in turn, lowers inflammation. Studies have proven that a combination of CBD and THC can treat pain associated with multiple sclerosis and arthritis.
4. Reduce symptoms related to cancer treatment
When one undergoes cancer treatment, they usually experience many side effects, including nausea, vomiting, and pain. The effect is stronger when a 1:1 combination of CBD and THC is used, rather than administering standard treatment alone.
5. Improve Overall Heart Health
Some studies have linked the use of CBD to lowering a person’s blood pressure.
6. Reduce Acne
An underlying inflammation and overproduction of sebum cause this condition. CBD has anti-inflammatory effects and has the ability to prevent your sebaceous glands from secreting sebum excessively.
Cannabidiol has several beneficial effects to offer its users. However, there is still uncertainty about its medical benefits. Researchers still have to delve deep into its pharmacologic and pharmacodynamic effects before it can claim therapeutic effects. Take note that all of the listed benefits are potential, so make sure that you discuss your options with your general practitioner before starting on CBD.
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