Anxiety is one of the most common behavioral and emotional problems currently plaguing our society. In fact, the WHO’s report from 2017 suggests that nearly 264 million people are struggling with different types of anxiety worldwide.
Simple practices like meditation, exercise, healthy diet and mastering proper breathing techniques can be hugely helpful in alleviating the symptoms of anxiety and improving the overall sense of wellbeing. While holistic treatments should not replace traditional ones, they do provide extra help for those struggling with anxiety.
Recently popular, however, is the use of cannabinoids (compounds of cannabis) as a potential treatment for a number of emotional problems and brain deceases like depression, PTS, chronic pain, work-related stress, Alzheimer’s and many more. The rest of this article will explore the relationship between cannabionoids and stress and inform you on how to use CBD oil for anxiety.
But what is anxiety?
In a nutshell, it is a condition characterized with excessive worry and restlessness. Anxiety comes in various ‘shapes and sizes’ – from social anxiety and panic attacks to agoraphobia and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), all with severe effects on the quality of people’s lives.
So it is hardly any surprise that medical research is constantly trying to discover new ways on how to help people manage their anxiety and stress.
How are anxiety disorders treated?
One of the most obvious and indeed popular treatments for anxiety is therapy. That involves trying to get to the core of your problem and outlining your healing process with the help of a psychotherapist.
Therapy, although challenging for many anxiety sufferers due to the format, setting and the unfamiliar nature of the relationship, can be very helpful in overcoming irrational patterns of thinking that stimulate the perpetual torrent of worry.
However, in case of a severe anxiety disorder which can seriously impact a person’s ability to lead a normal life, medications come in play. Fortunately, there is a wide range of anxiety medications available today, but less fortunately, they do come with their fair share of unpleasant side effects.
As a result, attention is increasingly being turned to alternative and home remedies for the purpose of reducing anxiety. As stated above, holistic methods play a crucial role in alleviating the problem, and there is a growing body of literature which further explores the relationship between new ways of treatment and how anxiety symptoms react.
Meditation as well as aerobic and anaerobic exercise play a huge role in the reduction of anxiety symptoms as well as its potency. You can also try to lose weight in a healthy way, and eat a rigorously monitored diet balanced for healthy fats, lean protein, and reduced intake of carbohydrates.
CBD oil for stress
To understand how CBD works, let’s first see how stress affects our brain and body.
Although genetics, environmental and lifestyle toxins hugely affect our neurochemistry, stress still remains the biggest source of anxiety. Chronic stress puts your body in a state of constant anxiety – it teaches it to “remember” in order to anticipate and avoid stress in the future.
While our bodies can handle occasional small bursts of stress hormones, they are not built for constant state of panic. Chronically high levels of stress hormones (cortisol especially) have a devastating effects on our body and brain chemistry.
Chronic stress restructures your brain, causing certain regions to become hyperactive, while others to shrink and atrophy. Levels of neurotransmitters (like dopamine, serotonin and endocannabinoids) and their receptors also change.
So here is where the benefits of CDB oil for stress relief come into play. Many studies suggest CBD counters anxiety by stimulating neural regeneration and neurotransmitters systems. Here is how:
- Serotonin: contrary to the popular belief, more serotonin is not always better. Low and high level of serotonin can equally cause dysfunction. Serotonin has at least fourteen different receptors, but CBD binds to 5-HT1A which is believed to be most strongly related to anxiety.
- Endocannabinoids: Our bodies naturally produce cannabinoids framing our body and brain’s endocannabinoid system, which can easily get dysregulated by chronic stress. CBD, however, can help restore the balance by curbing overstimulation of CB1 receptors and by stimulating the natural production of endocannabinoids.
- Neural regeneration: Although chronic stress can be severely detrimental to the brain by causing neuron damage, our brains continually make new neurons and CBD has shown to boost that process. In other words, CBD can help counterbalance brain damage caused by chronic stress.
The central cannabinoid found in cannabis is CBD or cannabidiol, and decades of research can now vouch for its numerous health benefits, including fighting stress and anxiety.
CBD oil for anxiety treatments
If you have decided to try CBD oil for anxiety relief, the first thing you need to do is learn about the quality of CBD. Pay attention that the CDB oil for anxiety you get comes from hemp and yields less than 0.3% THC and 20% or more CBD. THC is the psychoactive compound that make us feel “high” – it is not good for everyone and has even shown to trigger anxiety in some more sensitive individuals.
However, the fact that CBD is derived from hemp may mislead you into believing that hemp oil will do the same trick in treating anxiety. That is not the case. CBD oil is indeed extracted from the hemp plant (more specifically the mature hemp plant), but the two oils have quite different treatment properties.
The hemp oil is derived from hemp seeds in a cold pressing process and contains no CBD or THC. Although it has many nutrients, vitamins and proteins that are hugely beneficial for our health, when it comes to hemp oil vs. CBD oil for anxiety, it is the CBD oil you are after!
Now that we’ve cleared that up, here are some tips on how to use CBD oil for anxiety.
CBD oils are very easy to absorb due to the endocannabinoid receptors located throughout our bodies. The mucous membrane under the tongue quickly absorbs the oil and passes it on into the bloodstream. One to two doses a day are all you need to reduce anxiety, stress, and improve sleep.
The initial recommended CBD dosage for anxiety is one half dropper of CBD oil before bed for a few days. After a few days, when your body has already started adapting, you can gradually increase the dosage until you start feeling the effects of the oil.
However, dosage should not be changed too often. Two weeks into the initial effective dose, you can maybe try a higher dose, but always be careful not to take too much, or to stop all of the sudden.
CBD oil for panic attacks
Anxiety and panic attacks are often wrongly conflated as being the same thing, when in essence they are two different conditions. Unlike anxiety attacks that build gradually, panic attack are usually more sudden, last shorter (though with more pronounced physical symptoms like shortness of breath, heart racing and nausea) and often occur without an obvious cause.
Taking CBD oil to alleviate panic attack can be helpful, though it may not be sufficiently fast-acting to help in the middle of a panic attack. Research has yet to determine how beneficial CBD oils are for panic attacks.
Although anecdotal evidence into the benefits of CBD for panic disorder is piling by the day, science is yet to give its final verdict. Some new and promising studies though, like the one published in Current Neuropharmacology are paving the way.
Choosing the best CBD oil for your fight against anxiety
There are plenty of CBD oils on the market, so it is important to find a quality product from a trusted brand. Additionally, everyone responds to CBD differently, so it is very important that you try the oil for yourself and note any negative or positive reactions.
Moreover, dig more deeply into the differences of full-spectrum CBD oil (which contains all of the cannabinoids extractablse from the cannabis plant) and CBD isolate (the pure form of CBD). While CBD isolate is considered more potent due to its pureness, this does not necessarily make it superior. The combined effects of the various cannabinoids found in the full-spectrum CBD oil do actually tip the effectiveness scale.