Posted on

does cbd reduce anxiety

Benji Jones: That’s me, trying CBD at a shop in New York City. Lately, I’ve seen this stuff everywhere: At the local health food store, but also at Urban Outfitters , Sephora , and CBD shops like this one. And if you look at some of the branding, it kind of makes sense.

Phan: The tinctures, right? This is where you really get into the higher-strength things.”

At that point, I had just one day left.

Jones: Um, to be honest, I don’t feel that different. I think that the biggest change that I noticed is…I was just tired all the time. I feel this kind of slo-mo lethargia that makes me feel, like, a little bit disassociated with reality. And I think that is what made me feel a little less anxious at times.

Jones: And what about those moments of instant relief? Was that in my head, or could CBD act that fast?

When I first learned about CBD oil, I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical. My mind immediately turned to weed and the unnerving experiences I’d had with heightened anxiety in college. For me, a person who’s already predisposed to overthinking, marijuana, no matter what the form, would typically put my mind into overdrive and result in a common yet dreaded side effect: Paranoia. But, let’s back up a bit. What even is CBD?

With that, I threw caution to the wind and asked for a sample. Here’s what happened—including what it feels like—when I took one full dropper of Charlotte’s Web’s Everyday Plus Hemp Oil in the mint chocolate flavor every morning for seven days.

What is CBD?

With that said, I’m definitely intrigued enough by the subtle effects to continue taking the oil and to possibly up the dosage to the recommended two full droppers of the 30mL bottle per day. Plus, I take comfort in knowing that it’s an all-natural product that’s responsibly grown on family farms in Colorado. Something that’s safe, legal, requires no prescription, and makes me less anxious, less scatterbrained, and more focused? I’m definitely on board.

Go deep on the subject of CBD with this book that includes case studies, interviews with doctors, an overview of the latest cannabis research, and how scientists are exploring cannabis for various medical uses. There is also an explainer about the difference between CBD products made from industrial hemp versus in a lab, and products made from the whole marijuana plant.

Gretchen Lidicker puts a lifestyle spin on the world of CBD as the author draws on the “knowledge of leaders in the health and wellness world” to explain why CBD has become a top beauty and wellness trend for top athletes and celebrities. The book also includes recipes and recommendations for how to choose a top-quality CBD product.

Known as the “feel-good” hormone, serotonin stabilises the mood, increases feelings of happiness and promotes a sense of wellbeing. As well as causing depression, serotonin is linked to anxiety. For this reason, many anti-depressant anti-anxiety medications actively increase serotonin levels.

Responsible for regulating key bodily functions, the endocannabinoid system is a complex network that supports neuronal activity, as well as the cardiovascular and central nervous systems. It regulates a wide range of functions, including memory, appetite, sleep, fertility and mood. The last is particularly important, with studies suggesting CBD interacts with the 5-HT1a receptor, a serotonin-subtype.

So how does CBD reduce anxiety? While the exact mechanisms of the cannabinoid are unknown, scientists suspect the compound interacts with receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system to promote relaxation.

Targeting the endocannabinoid system

“CBD has shown therapeutic efficacy in a range of animal models of anxiety and stress, reducing both behavioural and psychological and physiological (e.g., heart rate) measures of stress and anxiety,” asserts the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

As well as interacting with the 5-HT1a receptor, CBD activates CB1 receptors located in the brain’s amygdala. When these receptors are blocked anxiety can increase, making CBD a promising anxiolytic. CBD is also linked to heightened activity in the brain’s amygdala-hippocampal-cortico-striatal circuit, which is linked to emotional processing.

There are limited clinical trials exploring the anxiolytic properties of CBD, though the research that does exist is promising. In 2018 the Journal of Affective Disorders published a study suggesting that cannabis can lower anxiety levels, as well as improve stress and depression. The benefits of CBD for treating Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) have also been explored, with a study carried out by the Primate Research Institute at Kyoto University in 2019 indicating the cannabinoid can reduce anxiety levels over a four-week period.

Harnessing the therapeutic benefits of cannabis is not a new concept, with historians estimating the flowering plant has been cultivated for medicinal purposes since 500 BC. While cannabis has endured a shady reputation, over the past decade a cannabinoid called CBD has won the attention of medical researchers around the world. Short for cannabidiol, CBD is a naturally occurring compound found in the cannabis plant with known anxiolytic properties.