Cannabis CBD and Anxiety
We are currently living through anxiety provoking times. The coronavirus is the perfect recipe to turn even the most laid back and centered among us into worrying wrecks, imagining the most catastrophic (although unlikely) outcomes for ourselves and our loved ones.
And that, dear friends, is the day-to-day life of someone living with anxiety. I know because for the last fifteen years it’s an inner world I’ve inhabited. Only for me, it’s not a pandemic I’m freaking out about, but lesser evils such as whether I’m going to make a complete idiot of myself in some social gathering or my own favorite anxiety rabbit hole – feeling anxious about feeling anxious.
Cannabis, CBD and Anxiety: ANXIETY DISORDERS
Anxiety disorders are a collection of mental health conditions characterized by disproportionate worrying about future events that brings about physiological responses in the body such as tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, muscle tension, sleep disturbance, excessive sweating, agitation, restlessness, irritability, and difficulty concentrating.
Avoidance behavior are common strategies amongst anxiety sufferers. If you’ve had a panic attack crossing a bridge, there’s a fair chance you’ll never make it to the other side of that river again. And for the socially anxious amongst us, myself included, not turning up to that party or after work drinks or a friend’s wedding are tactics regularly employed.
Anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) when anxiety is felt about a wide range of situations or issues; social anxiety disorder (SAD) – the fear of being negatively judged or rejected in social situations; panic disorder – sudden feelings of terror resulting in panic attacks; obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) – unwelcomed repetitive thoughts and behavior; phobias – an extreme fear triggered by a situation or object; and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – anxiety including flashbacks that develop after some kind of traumatic event.
Cannabis, CBD and Anxiety: STRESS, ANXIETY & THE ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM
Coping with stress or unwinding from a hectic day, is one of the major reasons millions of people consume cannabis. While your average recreational user isn’t interested in the biological mechanisms behind why they feel more relaxed after smoking a joint, the reason is almost certainly due to the direct activation of their endocannabinoid system (ECS).
The ECS comprises fatty ligands called endocannabinoids which bind to a vast network of cannabinoid receptor sites (CB1 and CB2) throughout the brain, central nervous system, immune system, and organs. Dynamic in nature, it is constantly working to ensure all our physiological systems remain in balance.
Chronic stress also increases levels of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), the enzyme that breaks anandamide down in the body, resulting in lower concentrations of the feel-good endocannabinoid.
With weakened endocannabinoid signaling, we are more vulnerable to developing anxiety and depression. Indeed, one study showed a clear inverse relationship between anandamide levels and anxiety severity in women with major depression;CBD: A MULTI-TARGETED APPROACH TO ANXIETY
While drug companies around the world are experimenting with synthetic FAAH inhibitors,
hoping they’ll become the next big thing in anti-anxiety medication, cannabidiol (CBD), the non-intoxicating compound found in cannabis, has been shown to inhibit anandamide reuptake and delay its metabolism by FAAH.
Several studies confirm that administering CBD enhances CB1 signaling, in turn promoting the creation of new neurons in the hippocampus, which scientists believe further contributes towards the compound’s anxiolytic effect.
CBD & ANXIETY: OUTSIDE THE LAB
While more still remains to be discovered about the mechanisms behind CBD’s anxiolytic effect, in certain US states and countries where medicinal use of cannabis is legal, doctors are treating their patients with CBD-rich cannabis strains for anxiety disorders. For the rest of us still condemned to the dark ages of prohibition, CBD oil derived from hemp has been our anti-anxiety salvation.
Consider the case of Emily Wilson, a 30-year-old British aid worker living in Greece. For the last three years, Emily has been education coordinator at a refugee camp on the outskirts of Athens, where 2800 displaced persons from countries like Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran live side by side in converted shipping containers, many still suffering from severe trauma.
EVIDENCE WITH LIMITATIONS
Thousands of glowing anecdotal accounts are one thing, but without some randomised clinical trials, mainstream medical institutions will never take CBD seriously as an anti-anxiety treatment. Unfortunately, as with most areas of cannabinoid research, clinical research into CBD for anxiety still falls rather short.
Because anxiety is such a broad term, most research conducted so far has concentrated on just one type of anxiety disorder, namely social anxiety disorder. A well-established protocol for measuring the effectiveness of an anti-anxiety drug is its administration to socially anxious individuals before they take part in a public speaking test.
In one study, healthy and socially anxious subjects were both asked to perform a simulated public speaking test.
However, giving a single 600mg dose of purified CBD does not reflect the clinical experiences of doctors recommending medical cannabis to patients with anxiety or that of the millions of people around the world taking hemp-based CBD oil for anxiety-related conditions.
Copyright, Project CBD.