Does CBD oil help anxiety?
If you’ve ever suffered from full-blown anxiety, you know how much it can affect your day-to-day life. But, if you’ve never experienced it, it can be hard to understand what someone is going through. If you need help managing your own anxiety, or that of a loved one, CBD oil (sometimes referred to as hemp oil or cannabis oil) may be the missing piece of the puzzle you’ve been looking for to help you treat your anxiety.
How does CBD oil work for anxiety?
The way CBD works with your body to manage anxiety is all about biochemistry. In a nutshell, CBD basically activates serotonin and maintains anandamide to help us stay happy. Stay with us for a crash course in biochemistry.
Our bodies have special cells called receptors. Receptors are located all over your body. Their job is to react to changes in the body’s environment, which we call stimuli. The body then responds in a certain way, depending on which receptor is triggered. So for example, let’s say someone has an accident and feels huge amounts of pain. The pain is caused by the relevant receptor in your skin reacting to what has happened.
You’ve probably heard about serotonin. It’s a chemical produced in your body that helps you feel happy. The scientific name for serotonin is 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT). The serotonin receptors are called 5-HT receptors. When you take CBD, it activates one of the 5-HT receptors called the 5-HT1A receptor, and Brazilian researchers have explained that this is why CBD can help produce an anti-anxiety effect.
If you’ve heard of anandamide, you may have heard it referred to as the “bliss molecule”. When we have enough anandamide in our bodies, we feel happier. When anandamide breaks down, we feel less happy.
Anandamide was discovered only 25 years ago by Israeli researchers, including the esteemed Professor of Medicinal Chemistry, Raphael Mechoulam. Anandamide is a fatty-acid neurotransmitter. We get fatty acids in our bodies from foods like vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fish. The body then uses those fatty acids as a neurotransmitter to send important messages to our cells.
Anandamide is broken down fairly quickly in the body by a substance called FAAH – or Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase. If we inactivate FAAH, we feel happier because our supplies of anandamide are not breaking down. CBD works by suppressing FAAH, so that the anandamide that helps up stay happy doesn’t break down as quickly.
CBD for Australians with anxiety
In Australia, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is the federal-government agency that decides which products are medicines, how they are regulated, who can prescribe them, and who can have access to those medicines. In its infinite wisdom, the TGA currently lists cannabidiol (i.e. CBD oil) as a prescription medicine under Schedule 4 (S4) Prescription Only Medicine of the Poisons Standard.
Despite the mounting body of research, and despite the fact that the federal government’s own Australian Bureau of Statistics research states that anxiety is considered the most common mental-health condition in Australia, the two million Australians who suffer from anxiety cannot legally access CBD.
Why most Australians can’t use CBD Oil for anxiety
Why? Because despite the fact that the TGA states that there are “no restrictions imposed by the TGA on the indication/s for which a health practitioner may apply to access medicinal cannabis for their patient”, you will quickly discover that if you want access to medical cannabis for your anxiety, you are not considered an “appropriate” patient in the eyes of the TGA.
In stark contrast to Australia’s reefer-madness style prohibitive access to all-natural and highly effective CBD oil, it is a totally legal, medicinal product in the United Kingdom. So much so that you can just rock up and buy it in the local high street, no prescription needed. CBD is also legal in many parts of the United States (although you may hear some people errantly call it Medical Marijuana).
“It is beyond my comprehension that any humane person would withhold such a beneficial substance from people in such great need”
—Steven C Gould—
Further Reading: Is CBD Oil Legal in Australia
What is anxiety?
If you feel a bit worried or stressed from time to time, that’s fairly normal. It’s when those worries and anxious thoughts become all encompassing that you may find yourself looking down the barrel of an anxiety disorder. Anxiety is a feeling, and it’s a visceral physical response to feeling worried or fearful about something that might happen. Anxiety becomes a problem when you can’t escape those worrying thoughts, and your fears about the future become excessive, difficult to control, and potentially debilitating. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM V) is what medical practitioners use to diagnose a person with an anxiety disorder.
There are different types of anxiety disorders. These include:
- obsessive compulsive disorder
- panic disorder (and panic disorder with agoraphobia)
- social anxiety disorder
- specific phobias
- post-traumatic stress disorder
- generalised anxiety
- / or body-focused repetitive
How common is anxiety?
Anxiety affects so many people. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, anxiety disorders are the most common group of mental-health disorders in Australia, affecting a whopping 14% of people (or more than two million Australians).
What causes anxiety?
Anxiety is a complex beast. Ask a person who suffers from anxiety to tell you what caused it in the first place, and this explains why you’re not going to get the same response from any two people. But there are some common themes. Some people might say that they’ve always been this way, and they felt like they were an anxious child. Others may have had a set of life experiences that has caused them excessive worry, and then anxiety develops when they can’t come down from that hyper-vigilant state. Beyond Blue (an Australian organisation co-ordinating a national response to mental health) explains that anxiety develops when a number of factors come into play, including personality traits, stressful events, and a family history of mental illness. Chronic pain can also bring depression and anxiety with it. They also acknowledge that anxiety doesn’t usually come to visit on its own. It brings its friends such as depression, panic attacks, and post-traumatic stress.
Symptoms and signs of anxiety
Consult Dr Google, and you will find literally thousands of websites and sources talking about the symptoms of anxiety. One such website is Australia’s government-funded source of health information, Health Direct. When you have anxiety, you will probably notice some of these more common symptoms. Some of these will manifest in your physical body, and some play out in your mind or affect how you behave.
|Heart palpitations or racing heart||Intrusive and worrying thoughts|
|Rapid breathing, shortness of breath||Uncontrollable thoughts, feelings of impending doom|
|Muscle tension in the back and neck||On edge, unable to relax, always on high alert|
|Nervous feeling in the stomach (butterflies)||Avoiding people and places, going to ground|
|Dizzy, light headed, Nausea||Easily irritated, minor irritations cause a major response, argumentative|
|Sweating, overheating||Sleep issues (i.e. can’t get to sleep, can’t stay asleep, sleeping at irregular times)|
|Shaking, tremors in the limbs||Pacing around|
|Fatigue, aching legs (like you’ve had a fright and a rush of adrenaline)||Can’t focus on a task, indecisive, brain fog|
What does anxiety feel like?
Anxiety is not so much a gentle reminder as a ruthless shove. Sometimes it feels like there’s no rhyme or reason to it. The physical symptoms can be the first sign that anxiety is taking hold of your daily life.
Of course fear has a purpose in nature, and it’s all part of that fight or flight response that’s a hangover from our caveman days. But anxiety is like a guest that won’t leave. The fear party is over, but anxiety is still just hanging around making a nuisance of itself.
The constant heart palpitations are an annoying—and sometimes scary—first sign that you are feeling anxious. Your heart or chest may flutter constantly, or pound aggressively. If you haven’t felt it before, you may jump to the conclusion that you are having a heart attack. It will wake you from your sleep, and you feel like you can’t lie still because your heart won’t stop fluttering. If you are trying to understand what it feels like, some people get a similar physical sensation when they drink more caffeine than they can tolerate, or when they take a cold and flu tablet that contains a stimulant called pseudoephedrine. In a catch-22 scenario, people who are prone to anxiety often find these substances will exacerbate their anxiety symptoms.
You pace around on high alert, waiting for the threat to arise. You spend all day fighting off feelings of impending doom, unsure as to whether you are opening up your psychic senses or just going nuts. You clench your jaw not even realising, and then you develop tension in your head and neck which leads to debilitating headaches. You can’t focus or ground, and all you can do is worry and fret, constantly on edge that the shit is going to hit the fan.
How do you treat anxiety?
The medical fraternity’s traditional, evidence-based treatment for anxiety generally advocates a combination of pharmaceutical medicines, self-care strategies, therapy, and doctors.
Pharmaceutical medications for Anxiety
Go to your General Practitioner or physician, and often their first line of defence is to write you a prescription for an anxiolytic (i.e. anti-anxiety) or anti-depressant medications like Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). This article is not here to either demonise or extol the virtues of these medications.
Anti-anxiety medication is better known as benzodiazepines. These types of medication are considered tranquilizers because they help slow down the brain and body. They work quickly and can be taken during an anxiety attack
- Common anti-anxiety meds include Xanax, Klonopin, Valium, or Ativan.
- Anti-anxiety medication can lead to dependence when taken for longer than four months.
- This type of medication can interact negatively with alcohol, painkillers, and sleeping pills
- Stopping taking anxiety medication suddenly may cause withdrawal. This may include increased anxiety, insomnia, shaking, rapid heartbeat, sweating, and disorientation.
Antidepressants have a lower risk for dependence and substance abuse. When using antidepressants, it may take over a month to feel the effects.
- Common antidepressants used for anxiety include Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Lexapro, and Celexa.
- Stopping taking antidepressants can cause severe depression, fatigue, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, and flu-like symptoms.
If you suffer from anxiety, and are taking medication, talking to a therapist is usually the next thing your doctor will recommend.
If you are feeling suicidal, get immediate phone support from Beyond Blue 24 hours a day by phoning 1300 22 46 36, or phone Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14.
To help you manage your anxiety there are many strategies you can try. Better Health Victoria lists a large number of self-care strategies, including diet, relaxation, exercise, and mindfulness.
Can CBD be used to treat anxiety?
What if you have exhausted all of the mainstream anxiety treatments available to you in an attempt to get your anxiety under control? What if your anxiety is still an issue, and you feel as if your options are all but dried up? Do you just accept your lot, or is there a safe, all-natural, plant-derived solution that could be the missing link you have been looking for?
It is the experience of many—unfolding in the increasing amount of stories from CBD users around the world —that Cannabidiol (CBD) oil can be used to help manage anxiety effectively.
Is CBD Oil a good alternative to taking pharmaceutical medications for anxiety?
This is a good question, we will try and answer below and back it up with some hard scientific research. We always suggest working together with your doctor when you are considering an alternative option to your existing medications. You should never just quit taking them as there may be some negative side effects. A good doctor can guide you though the transition process and help you reduce your medication as you switch to a more natural remedy.
If you use CBD oil for Anxiety will your symptoms improve?
There is no guarantee that CBD will help improve your symptoms for Anxiety, It’s up to you to do your own research and talk with your doctor before deciding whether to try it. CBD oil is not cheap but in some countries it’s possible to get it on prescription. You need to make sure if your doctor prescribes CBD that you receive a whole plant extract not an isolate or synthetic CBD product. These have been shown to have less effect in clinical studies.
You also need to be realistic in your expectations. It may take several weeks of taking CBD on a regular basis before you notice any differences. Make sure you keep a diary so you can monitor your progress.
Further reading: Whole plant vs Synthetic CBD
Research into using CBD oil for anxiety
When you conduct your own Google Scholar search, or look on PubMed you’ll discover that there is plenty of published scientific and medical research on anxiety using CBD Cannabidiol. (search for cannabidiol anxiety, cbd oil anxiety, cannabis oil anxiety, or hemp oil anxiety). Here are a few examples of some recently published clinical evidence.
In 2015, several psychiatrists from the New York University School of Medicine published their research stating that, “current evidence indicates CBD has considerable potential as a treatment for multiple anxiety disorders”.
In 2017, researchers from the University of São Paulo in Brazil published their research into Panic Disorder (PD), stating that: “CBD seems to be a promising drug for the treatment of PD”.
In 2012, researchers from the Institute of Psychiatry at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro published their research into using CBD as an anxiolytic, stating that, “CBD was shown to reduce anxiety in patients with social anxiety disorder.” Also in 2012, another group of researchers from Brazil stated that, “clinical studies confirmed that CBD has anxiolytic properties.”
In 2016, English and Brazilian researchers published their research into treating anxiety-related disorders with CBD, stating that, “Growing evidence…indicates that cannabidiol…alleviates anxiety.”
In 2016, psychiatrists at the University of Colorado published their research into using CBD to treat anxiety and PTSD in a child, stating that, “This case study provides clinical data that support the use of cannabidiol oil as a safe treatment for reducing anxiety and improving sleep in a young girl with posttraumatic stress disorder.”
In 2013, esteemed Israeli researcher Raphael Mechoulam and his colleague Linda Parker, published their research stating that, “CBD…has anti-anxiety…properties.”
Ordinary people using CBD oil for anxiety
There are literally thousands of stories from ordinary people who are using CBD oil to treat their anxiety. Here are some of them, freely available on various social-media sites.
“It’s been absolutely life changing for me. I’m off all prescription medication.”
“He’s normally got so much anxiety, he throws up a few times a day. Since taking the CBD, he’s only thrown up once in the last two weeks.”
“Pretty happy with the results. It has really helped with anxiety and depression and pain.”
“Also I notice after using CBD strains the physical symptoms of anxiety are reduced significantly.”
“I find CBD to be very effective in treating the physical symptoms of anxiety such as restless limbs, tight muscles, and trouble sitting still.”
“It turned my life around.”
“Not having to take medications that make you crazy is the happiest part of my journey.”
“I wouldn’t be alive right now if it wasn’t for CBD.”
What is CBD (Cannabidiol)?
What is CBD? CBD or Cannabidiol is a naturally occurring chemical compound or ‘cannabinoid’ found in cannabis and hemp plants. Along with CBD, cannabis plants contains between 70-100 other cannabinoids. Most people have heard of THC (Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol) which is the psychoactive cannabinoid that gets people high. After THC, CBD is the second most abundant cannabinoid and is generally considered to be non-psychoactive.
What are Cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids function as part of the endocannabinoid system. This is the body’s complex network of chemical compounds (endocannabinoids) and receptors which are constantly working to bring the body into homeostasis and optimum functioning. This system regulates everything from mood, memory, the immune system, pain signalling, and inflammatory response.
Is CBD safe?
Most people would tell you it’s pretty much impossible to overdose on CBD oil. There are a multitude of studies that demonstrate the benefits of cannabidiol in both humans and animals. Most of these studies conclude that CBD is safe to use and has almost no major side effects. The review paper by the NCBI suggests that Cannabidiol is safe and non-toxic and even “high doses” up to 1500 mg/day are well tolerated (see Safety and side effects of cannabidiol – Bergamaschi et al). The paper does goes on to say that some studies reported that this cannabinoid can induce some side effects, including inhibition of hepatic-drug metabolism, alterations of in vitro cell viability, decreased fertilisation capacity, and decreased activities of p-glycoprotein and other drug transporters.
Does CBD have side effects?
In recent clinical studies, most side effects were described as mild or moderate and went away after some time.
CBD can interact with other pharmaceuticals
This is because it inhibits the activity of some liver enzymes called cytochrome P450. This family of enzymes metabolises most of the pharmaceutical drugs used to treat humans. If you are taking pharmaceutical drugs we strongly suggest you discuss these issues with your health professional to discuss any potential complications. To put these risks into perspective, eating grapefruit has a similar effect on these same liver enzymes.
CBD can cause a dry mouth due to the involvement of the endocannabinoid system in the inhibition of saliva secretion.
CBD can cause a slight drop in blood pressure sometimes resulting in a feeling of lightheadedness immediately after taking it. If you are taking any medication for blood pressure please ensure you discuss this with your doctor before taking CBD.
CBD can cause drowsiness when taken in higher doses. You should avoid driving or operating machinery if you feel affected in this way.
CBD can sometimes cause diarrhea.
CBD can cause a decreased appetite.
What strength of CBD oil do I need to treat anxiety?
CBD oil comes in different strengths. We usually recommend that you start with the lowest strength of CBD oil, and slowly increase your dose. This has a couple of benefits.
Firstly, if you start with the highest strength CBD oil, and it works well at a low dose, you won’t know whether a lower strength CBD oil may also have worked just as well. It’s a bit like driving a car. You don’t jump in and immediately drive around everywhere at 100km hour. You accelerate slowly, and drive to the conditions.
Secondly, just as some people may be more sensitive to caffeine than others, some people may be more sensitive to CBD oil. This means they can take a lower strength to get the same effect as someone who is less sensitive to it. So don’t crack the nut with a sledgehammer straight away, when a small hammer may have been just as effective.
Starting low and slow will also potentially save you money in the long run.
What dose of CBD should I use for anxiety?
How CBD dosage works is a difficult question to answer. No two people are alike, and similarly no two people will respond in exactly the same way to CBD oil. A number of factors affect what kind of dosing regime is best for you. The rule of thumb is to start low and slow with a dose the size of a grain of rice, and increase the dosage gradually every few days until you reach an optimum dosage for you. Read our comprehensive dosage info here.
What is the best type of CBD oil for anxiety
There is no best type of CBD oil for anxiety, it really depends on the severity of your condition and the way your symptoms come on. For most people just taking CBD Oil drops everyday as a supplement can bring your body back into balance and reduce the amount of anxiety you feel on a day-to-day level. It can also help to reduce stress and also improve sleep patterns.
If you need immediate relief such as dealing with a panic attack, the type of CBD oil you choose should be based on its speed of action. In this case, taking capsules that can take up to an hour to have any effect might not be the best option. CBD Vape can give immediate relief as it’s absorbed into the blood through the lungs. Taking CBD oil drops orally under the tongue is also reasonably fast.
Where can I buy CBD for anxiety?
Here at Eternal Plants we source the highest quality, pesticide- and GMO-free CBD oil available anywhere in the world. Our CBD oil is 3rd-party lab tested and 100% organically grown on Scandinavian farms, then manufactured in world-class facilities to the highest GMP standards. We’re that confident in the high quality of our product, that our CBD oil is backed by our no-questions-asked, money-back guarantee!
Is taking THC also good for anxiety
Many anxiety sufferers self-medicate by smoking or vaping marijuana that contains the psychoactive substance THC Tetrahydrocannabidiol . In small doses it can have a relaxing and calming effect but in larger doses it can greatly increase anxiety symptoms and paranoia. Some people are also genetically predisposed to experience anxiety with cannabis as a result of brain chemistry.
CBD can help mitigate this kind of effect as it reduces the psychoactivity of THC. If you are thinking of taking THC look for a high CBD strain and be very careful how much you take especially if you are not experienced with medicinal cannabis. Extra caution should also be taken when ingesting cannabis edibles.
The multitude of uses for CBD oil is growing but the medical community and political legislation will take a while to catch up. If you are thinking about using CBD oil to help manage your anxiety, you should consider the limited risks and the potential gains in quality of life you may acheive. The personal stories are numerous, and the research is mounting in support. If safe and natural plant-based solutions are a big part of your health priorities, then you should absolutely consider adding CBD oil to your wellness arsenal.