Anxiety – A symptom of the 21st century. But is CBD the antidote?

Anxiety is a sign of the times. Lives are busier, finances more stretched, social media places us in a pressure cooker. Perhaps it’s little wonder that hospital admissions for stress and anxiety have leapt by 28%, while more than a third of us are likely to feel stressed at least one day a week. Let’s walk through this condition – finding out who it affects and what the science says about CBD and whether it offers anxiety-busting potential.

Anxiety – Who’s at risk?

Anxiety can affect ANYONE. The reasons why anxiety develops are wide and varied, often being a perfect storm of factors formed from: genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events (if you’re wondering whether you have depression or anxiety, you can use this helpful online tool from the NHS).
In response, more of us are using medication than ever before, with recent headlines making for some pretty depressing reading…

“Too many hooked on prescription drugs”BBC

“One in four British adults being prescribed potentially addictive drugs, ‘disturbing’ review finds”The Telegraph

“We can’t say how many people are ‘hooked on’ prescription drugs”UK Fact Checking Charity

For the majority, moving onto prescription medication isn’t ideal. For a few, it can lead to addiction. For others, their effectiveness can subside after an extended period. For all, it’s only meant to be a stopgap. And for almost 40%, treatment is never sought at all.

Let’s be clear here – it is ALWAYS advisable to seek medical advice from your GP if you feel that you could be suffering from depression or anxiety. But it’s also essential that you’re informed as to what else could help. One thing that many people see as an aid, is CBD. But does the science stack up? Let’s dig in…

CBD and the science – Understanding where we are

CBD is believed to treat anxiety through an indirect interaction with the endocannabinoid system, as well as through its effect on serotonin receptors (read our beginner’s CBD guide for an overview of what this system is, and why it matters).

It’s also thought that CBD may target the hippocampus – a part of the brain associated with anxiety and cognitive function.

However, the human studies into CBD and anxiety are few and far between. So much so that CBD manufacturers are legally inhibited from making any medical claims. But let’s take a look at the limited number of studies that are out there…

“Evidence points toward a calming effect for CBD in the central nervous system. Interest in CBD as a treatment of a wide range of disorders has exploded, yet few clinical studies of CBD exist in the psychiatric literature.

Cannabidiol may hold benefit for anxiety-related disorders. Controlled clinical studies are needed”.

Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series: Scott Shannon, MD, Nicole Lewis, ND, Heather Lee, PA-C, and Shannon Hughes

In 2011, another study found that cannabidiol could reduce social anxiety, with researchers looking specifically at cannabidiol to treat anxiety associated with public speaking.

Then, in 2015, analysis of previous research concluded that CBD oil is a promising treatment for numerous forms of anxiety, including social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Another trusted voice to round things up is that of Harvard Health Publishing…

“studies suggest that CBD may help with both falling asleep and staying asleep”.
Cannabidiol (CBD) — what we know and what we don’t – Peter Grinspoon, MD

But what of the risks?

We’ll refer to the World Health Organization for our answer as to whether CBD poses a risk to health (the WHO is a world respected organization which is responsible for directing and coordinating international health within the United Nations system).

“In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD”.

Read the Pre-Review Report here

CBD and anxiety – we’re waiting (and waiting) for further research

CBD desperately demands further research if we’re to truly understand just whether and how it could help those who suffer from depression and anxiety. In the meantime, we encourage our readers to continue learning. Our guide to natural stress relief can lend a helping hand if you’re doing battle with the modern infliction of anxiety and depression.

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