CBD helps relieve anxiety and stress – How effective is it really?
CBD has taken America (and all the dispensaries near me) by storm.
A few years ago, these three little letters were known only by the most dedicated pot smokers. But now they are on the lips of doctors, patients, politicians and business owners.
One of the main drivers of this phenomenal growth is the apparent effectiveness of this cannabis extract in the fight against anxiety.
But how effective is it really?
CBD in dispensaries near me
Dispensaries all over the country are packed with little brown bottles filled with CBD Oil.
But for the uninitiated, it can be a mystery figuring out what CBD actually does. It doesn’t get you high like cannabis, so what’s the point?
Well, it’s definitely doing something for the millions of people who are using CBD to get them through the rough and tumble of modern life. The CBD industry is set to reach $16 billion in the coming years, and over 50% of CBD users are taking it to fight off anxiety.
Other reported benefits include reduced depression, insomnia, stress, pain relief, and it’s even been touted to fight Alzheimer’s and symptoms of cancer.
But what’s the truth? Let’s take a closer look at how you could benefit from a few drops of CBD under your tongue each morning.
What is CBD?
CBD is short for cannabidiol and is part of a larger family of cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant.
Although it is a modern discovery in terms of scientific understanding, humans have been benefiting from CBD and cannabis in general for longer than you may think.
Many ancient Chinese medical texts describe cannabis and its benefits in great detail. As well as using the plant and it’s fibres to build houses, make clothes, and for cooking, Traditional Chinese Medicine has long since used cannabis flower, leaf, and seeds to treat a variety of ailments and conditions.
Fast forward to the present day, and we now have a much better idea of how cannabis and cannabinoids affect the human body.
Within the last few decades, scientists have discovered that all mammals, in fact, most animals on earth, have a network in their bodies called the endocannabinoid system (or ECS for short).
The ECS plays a vital role in regulating many of our bodies’ natural functions, keeping them in balance and harmony with each other.
Cannabinoids, including CBD (and THC – the compound that causes the “high” effect of marijuana) interact with the ECS, causing a range of different effects and benefits.
Although we do not have a complete picture of the exact benefits of CBD, research is constantly gathering momentum and there are a lot of positive signs so far.
CBD and anxiety
In today’s modern, hyper-connected world, mental health is skyrocketing. With our minds having access to all corners of the world, it’s hardly surprising that anxiety is more prevalent than ever.
Anxiety is treated in a variety of different ways. Everything from mindfulness in the form of yoga and meditation, to counseling, to prescription pharmaceuticals.
And CBD is the latest addition to the anti-anxiety roster. 60% of CBD users report that they have taken CBD to fight anxiety and stress.
Many Americans are put off by the idea of synthetic pharmaceuticals, which can damage your body and in some cases lead to dependency. And counseling comes with a costly price tag.
CBD on the other hand is 100% natural, is non-addictive, and comes with very few side effects. But does it actually work?
Numerous studies have suggested that CBD is an effective treatment for anxiety and stress. One famous Brazilian study gave a group of men a 300mg dose of CBD before a public speaking test. The researchers found the dose was effective in reducing anxiety.
There have also been numerous tests that indicate CBD reduces stress in animals.
CBD and depression
Alongside anxiety, depression is another mental health disorder that has seen a spike in recent times. Whether it’s because of the looming climate catastrophe, the political climate, or just the drudgery of running the 9-5 rate race, depression is another pandemic that is silently running through our country.
Initial studies are pretty positive when it comes to using CBD to battle depression. Research shows that CBD has a positive interaction with serotonin receptors in the brain, a chemical that is critical to feelings of happiness and contentedness.
In tests on animals, CBD was shown to fight stress and in certain cases act as an antidepressant.
Although there is no proven evidence that CBD can act as an antidepressant in humans, the signs are good. Traditional prescription anti-depressants come with a whole host of side effects which are enough to force some users to give them up altogether. Thousands of depression sufferers are already self-prescribing CBD as a viable alternative.
CBD and insomnia
If you’ve ever battled with insomnia you’ll know it’s a condition that can affect every aspect of your life. You’re constantly tired, impatient, your concentration suffers and your productivity decreases. Your work-life suffers and it can take its toll on your personal relationships as well.
Lack of sleep is also one of the top underlying causes of many other mental health issues including the stress and depression mentioned above.
There are conflicting reports about how effective CBD is at giving you a better night’s sleep. If anxiety and depression are keeping you awake, then dealing with these symptoms can definitely be a bonus. CBD can also help with pain, another cause of sleepless nights.
But research suggests that although it can help you get to sleep, CBD increases the amount of REM sleep and decreases the amount of deep sleep, meaning you may fall asleep easier but wake up feeling less restless.
One benefit however is that CBD can improve wakefulness and make you feel more alert. So if insomnia is leaving you feeling groggy and filled with brain fog, CBD could be your answer.
CBD and eating disorders
Eating disorders are some of the most damaging mental health conditions imaginable. Whether it’s over-eating, under-eating, or binge eating, these disorders can take a massive toll on the human body.
Most eating disorders have their roots in depression, anxiety, or some kind of past trauma that makes it impossible for sufferers to maintain healthy eating patterns. CBD can help deal with these root causes and make it easier for people with eating disorders to get back on the right track.
However, evidence suggests that some eating disorders may have their roots in a misfunctioning endocannabinoid system. It’s well known that the ECS is linked to appetite and has a role to play in telling your brain when you are and aren’t hungry. Most people will have heard of the “munchies”, a phenomenon where people gain an insatiable appetite after consuming cannabis.
The evidence is unclear, but research is underway into how CBD can bring a malfunctioning ECS into balance and as a result affect the way that eating disorders manifest.
CBD and pets
Anxiety in dogs is one of the top concerns of pet owners. There’s nothing worse than stepping out of your house and constantly worrying if your dog is whining and crying from being separated from their human best friend.
The problem is compounded by the behavior of anxious dogs. To relieve their stress they often take it out in ways that can be misinterpreted as bad behavior – everything from chewing, digging holes, going to the toilet indoors, and even aggression.
If you’ve stepped foot inside a Seattle dispensary lately you’ll probably notice that the CBD industry is turning its hand at solving this problem and is offering a cheaper, more natural alternative to expensive vet bills.
As we’ve already discovered, the endocannabinoid system is present in most, if not all animals, and it’s thought that if it works for humans, it’s going to work for pets.
CBD and pain relief
After depression and anxiety, pain relief is the top reason why people are turning to CBD.
I’ve mentioned it many times already in this post, but people are falling out of love with mass-produced pharmaceuticals. People are becoming more health-conscious and aware of the damage that synthetics drugs can do to their bodies.
This is more prevalent than ever in the field of pain relief. Hundreds of thousands of Americans take pain-relieving opioids, only to realize they’ve formed a habit and can’t stop taking them once the pain is long gone.
CBD is shown to increase the levels of anandamide in our blood, a compound that is known to reduce our perception of pain. CBD has offered a lifeline to sufferers of long-term, chronic pain, who otherwise would have had to continuously dose themselves with opioids or other potentially damaging drugs.
CBD and acne
Acne sufferers have been sold endless different products and cures in their lifetime. There are thousands of creams, face washes, and treatments. They’re told to stop eating chocolate, eat MORE green vegetables, and even told that something as simple as water is the miracle cure.
So you can imagine their disbelief when they’re told CBD is the magic bullet they’ve been looking for.
Well, it might not be so far from the truth.
A review in 2017 confirmed the belief that stretches back centuries that cannabis, specifically CBD, has anti-inflammatory properties. This can help calm the skin and reduce the redness caused by acne.
On top of this, a study three years earlier revealed that CBD affects sebocytes, the cells that produce sebum. Sebum is an oily substance that is meant to protect our skin but too much can encourage the bacteria that leaves sufferers prone to acne.
CBD and Alzheimer’s
This is yet another area that doesn’t have enough clinical evidence to make a conclusive judgment.
Some commentators even suggest that the pharmaceutical industry is purposely diverting money away from cannabis and CBD trials in fear of the impact it could have on their profits.
After all, why would you pay for expensive pills if you could instead use plant that grows easily in a huge range of climates and soil types (they don’t call it “weed for nothing”. In some areas of the world it grows everywhere – the side of the road, in ditches, through the cracks in the pavement….)
But that’s a topic for a whole different post…
What we do know is that in small trials CBD was shown to remove a protein called amyloid, from nerve cells grown in a lab – the same protein that is a key indicator of Alzheimer’s disease.
A separate study on mice with Alzheimer’s symptoms revealed an increase in learning and a decrease in the tell-tale amyloid protein after they were given CBD.
Some common symptoms of Alzheimers are stress, anxiety, and agitation, which researchers have already suggested can be tackled with CBD
CBD and substance abuse
For many years we were told that cannabis is addictive and a “gateway drug” that leads to the use of hard street drugs.
Turns out that was a load of nonsense, and it’s more likely that CBD can help you cut an addiction than lead to a new one.
It’s believed that by reducing anxiety and stress and working as an antidepressant, CBD can help decrease the likelihood of addicts falling into relapse states.
In a recent study, a group of 42 recovering heroin addicts was shown a series of videos, some of which included depictions of people using heroin. The people who were given a dose of CBD reported fewer cravings than those who took a placebo. Interestingly, the reduced craving effects continued for up to a week after the dose was given.
You probably noticed a common thread here.
Evidence for the power of CBD to treat a whole range of illnesses and conditions is constantly growing, but it’s not yet conclusive enough to make bold “miracle cure” claims. Any CBD brand or retailer that is making these kinds of statements is playing a risky game.
The danger is that people switch from effective, proven medicine to CBD and run the risk of complications down the line. The best advice is to consult your doctor or pharmacist before taking CBD or switching it for your prescribed medication.
The fact is that CBD is already bringing much needed relief to millions of people in America and around the world. It’s relatively inexpensive compared to many pharmaceuticals, and the side effects are minimal.
The only way to find out for yourself is to give it a try!