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CBD and Anxiety
Anxiety sufferers need more options. Of the estimated 40 million Americans with anxiety disorders, almost two-thirds don’t receive treatment. But Big Pharma’s selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and benzodiazepine tranquilizers don’t work for everyone. With long-term use, many become dependent. Though it may be difficult to find concrete proof that cannabidiol (CBD) is an effective anxiety treatment, the need for alternatives is long overdue. And as more states legalize marijuana, CBD is earning special attention for its unique selling point: correlation from pain, depression, and anxiety without the psychoactive “high”. If you’re considering CBD to treat your anxiety, consider the following first.
What CBD is
CBD is the other chemical compound extracted from the cannabis plant. It’s a structural isomer of THC, which means they’re made from the same molecules.The difference lies in their atomic structure. THC has a closed ring, while CBD has an open ring. This key distinction causes CBD’s similar but significantly different effects.Though it’s still classed as a Schedule 1 drug due to its link to cannabis, there’s a good chance this will change. The FDA recently approved its use in Epidiolex, a seizure medication for patients with severe epilepsy. This makes CBD the first marijuana-derived substance to be FDA-approved.
How CBD works (and why it won’t get you stoned)
To understand CBD’s unique properties, it helps to understand how cannabis affects the body in general. One marijuana plant contains more than 100 chemical compounds––cannabinoids––that act on the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). Made up of neurotransmitters and corresponding cell receptors, this system regulates a host of important mind-body interactions. When you’re in pain, for example, your ECS stimulates the nerves cells that signal the problem. Cannabinoids act on two receptors in the endocannabinoid system: CB1 and CB2.When a cannabinoid like THC enters the body, it acts on the CB1 receptor and affects memory, concentration, and coordination. It gets you stoned.When a cannabinoid like CBD enters the body, it doesn’t act on CB receptors. Instead, it acts on receptors that affect pain, inflammation, and anxiety. It doesn’t get you stoned––but it might make you feel better.
How CBD affects the brain
Evidence of CBD’s anti-anxiety potential remains limited to animal research and short-term human studies, but their findings are promising.In one animal study, researchers found that, like SSRIs, CBD may boost signaling through serotonin receptors––and may even do it at a faster rate. As researchers noted:“The fast onset of antidepressant action of CBD and the simultaneous anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effect would solve some of the main limitations of current antidepressant therapies.” In another animal study, researchers found repeated CBD use may help to regenerate hippocampus neurons, a process called neurogenesis. This is significant given the hippocampus’ relationship to mental health: A smaller hippocampus often indicates a person with depression or anxiety; successful treatment of depression is measured by neurogenesis in the hippocampus.On the human front, a 2011 study examined CBD’s short-term effects on anxiety by asking a few dozen people to speak in front of a large audience. Some participants received CBD, some received a placebo, and some received nothing at all. Those who unknowingly took CBD reported significantly less anxiety. While CBD will impact many people differently, one Halso customer once commented that CBD “helps lessen my [his] thoughts”. Learning about, taking, and using CBD is a journey, and we invite you to our forum section where you can read about the journey and experience of others.