We’ve all experienced this feeling at one point or another: your heartbeat races almost as quickly as your mind does, while your face grows hot and your palms become damp with sweat.
Maybe you were giving a speech, or meeting someone you were nervous to meet. But for some, this feeling of anxiety is so severe or frequent that it becomes a problem. Anxiety can interfere with our overall quality of life, from how well we sleep to how well we perform at our jobs.
As it stands right now, modern medicine doesn’t have perfect solutions for those who struggle with anxiety conditions. Fortunately, research into natural ways to cope with anxiety and stress is giving many people hope.
One of the natural compounds that has been shown to fight anxiety is CBD, or cannabidiol. In this article, we will review how CBD oil may be able to help people overcome anxiety.
CBD and Anxiety
Anxiety is a normal emotional state that we all feel at one point or another. This feeling is linked to a cascade of biological events that are meant to prepare our bodies to react. For example, when your heart races, more oxygenated blood is delivered to your muscles, allowing you to perform at your best, physically.
Yet for some, the anxiety response doesn’t function as it should. This can lead to feeling overly anxious in situations where it does not benefit us. Some of the common anxiety disorders include:
● Post-traumatic stress disorder
● Generalized anxiety disorder
● Obsessive compulsive disorder
● Panic disorder
For those of us who have an anxiety disorder, it can be incredibly difficult to find relief. Therapy and lifestyle changes can help, however the current medications that are available are often ineffective, and some are even unsafe.
With one in five adults in the US struggling with an anxiety disorder, many of us are left looking for alternative solutions to cope with anxiety. Enter: CBD.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the most well-studied non-psychoactive cannabinoids found in the Cannabis sativa plant. What this means is that CBD will not cause the “high” feeling that is associated with marijuana (this feeling is thanks to the cannabinoid THC).
Both THC and CBD have demonstrated a variety of therapeutic properties in preclinical studies and human studies. For CBD, one of these properties is that of an anxiolytic, or a compound that can reduce anxiety.
So how, exactly, may CBD help those of us with anxiety find relief? While researchers are still examining how CBD exerts its anxiolytic effects, they have found some possible mechanisms.
CBD May Increase Serotonin Levels
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter (think brain chemical) that is most well-known for its mood-boosting abilities. It’s also involved in our anxiety response, with enhanced serotonin function believed to reduce feelings of anxiety.
Animal research has found enhanced serotonin activity following acute and chronic CBD use. By improving our serotonin activity, CBD may help to improve our moods and reduce our subjective feelings of anxiety.
CBD Could Boost Hippocampal Neurogenesis
The hippocampus is a brain region that plays many roles, such as mood and memory formation. Research has found that many patients who suffer from anxiety disorders have a hippocampus with abnormal function or structure.
Animal studies have found that CBD may help to increase hippocampal neurogenesis, which is the speed at which new neurons, or brain cells, are formed in the hippocampus. It is possible that this boost in health of the hippocampus may lead to improvements in anxiety symptoms.
CBD Can Reduce Inflammation
Chronic inflammation is believed to be involved in the progression of multiple common conditions, including depression and anxiety. Researchers have discovered that heightened inflammatory signalling may be involved in generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, phobias, and panic disorder.
Cannabinoids have been found to modulate inflammation through a variety of mechanisms, and one of the most well-studied in this realm is CBD. Through lessening chronic inflammation, CBD may help to improve anxiety for those with inflammatory-related anxiety disorders.
Research into CBD and anxiety disordersis still in its preliminary stages, but early evidence suggests that CBD may offer some relief. Through a variety of pathways, including boosting serotonin levels, increasing hippocampal neurogenesis, and combating inflammation, there is reason to believe that CBD may be capable of helping some people who struggle with anxiety.
Nicole Gleichmann is a freelance health and science writer with a passion for holistic health and wellness.
She’s an avid traveler, hiker, and yogi, who shares her life with her loving pup, Tonka.