Can CBD Help Treat Anxiety?

Anxiety is an issue that is becoming more and more prevalent in modern society. It is a serious issue that can cause a lot of people grief and struggle in their day to day lives. While certain forms of anxiety can be beneficial when it brings people to make a positive change in their lives, for the most part it is not something which is going to be a welcomed feeling.
When it isn’t managed effectively, it can become crippling and lead to a downward spiral which impacts relationships and work. Furthermore, stress is one of the hidden killers, causing all sorts of medical conditions and diseases.
It is estimated today that about 18% of adults in the U.S. currently suffer from some form of anxiety disorder. This has led to the big pharmaceutical companies developing all kinds of drugs to supposedly treat these ailments.
These can be very strong and lead to addiction issues down the line. Of course, a lot of these drugs have been of great help to a wide number of people, but a lot of those who take them see little to no improvement.
There are also side effects which may outweigh the benefits of taking the pills. Thankfully, there are alternative treatments out there with fewer side effects that can help to treat these disorders. It is believed that one of the best alternatives to these traditional treatment options is CBD.

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Why might CBD be an effective treatment for anxiety disorders?

CBD is the most impactful compound in cannabis that is not psychoactive and it is currently being used for the treatment of many different medical conditions and diseases.
This has led to widespread coverage in the media about the issue, with scientists, clinicians and consumers alike utilising CBD with great effects. There is an increasing number of studies which show that CBD can have many significant properties that allow it to act as an anti-anxiety treatment.
When it is used as needed, it seems to be safe – patients tolerate it well and it could be helpful in the treatment of the likes of panic disorders, mild to moderate depression, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), social phobia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

How does CBD achieve these benefits?

There are a number of different actions triggered in the brain by consuming CBD that could relate to the effective treatment of anxiety-related disorders. Most of the studies on CBD are still at the preclinical stage, so a lot of the results relate to animal-based studies.
This of course means that not everything can be always transferred effectively over to humans, but there are certainly plenty of interesting insights that can be derived from this type of research.
That being said, there have been studies on humans which are beginning to show that there is evidence of CBD’s anxiety-reducing properties.
Researchers in Brazil, for example, found through a double blind study of patients who were suffering with a generalised form of social anxiety that, following CBD consumption, they reported experiencing a fall in their anxiety levels. These statements were backed up by brain scans which were able to demonstrate that there were patterns of cerebral blood flow which would be in line with the anti-anxiety effect.
To date, numerous other studies have taken place and are still currently taking place which showcase the ever increasing anti-anxiety properties of CBD.

Here are the two ways in particular that CBD can help with the likes of anxiety:

Hippocampus
The hippocampus is the part of the brain that controls a number of key cerebral functions. Particularly, it plays a key part in the formation of memory and general cognition. When there are scans taken of the brains of those suffering with the likes of depression and anxiety, often these people have smaller hippocampi.
Numerous aids to depression show that neurons in this area can be regenerated. SSRIs and CBD have positive studies showing the link between this treatment option and the regeneration of these brain cells. This is certainly a massive step forward, because when neuronal plasticity is seriously impaired, it can evolve into behaviours related to suicide.

5-HT1A
CBD is able to provide benefits to people due to the number of different actions that are stimulated in the brain. It is able to increase and improve signalling through the serotonin receptor called 5-HT1A. This is a specific subtype of a serotonin receptor which plays a vital role in the treatment of anxiety and depression.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are commonly prescribed for people struggling with these issues. The way these can provide relief is through acting as a blocker for the re-absorption of serotonin in the brain.
This in turn leads to there being more serotonin becoming available inside the synaptic space. As a result, more signals are sent around the cells in the brain, which helps to increase mood and often lower anxiety levels.
CBD operates in a similar way to SSRIs. Signalling can be improved thanks to these receptors, with some studies now even indicating that the use of CBD can lead to a faster improvement than when SSRIs are used.

Conclusion

With more and more research and studies coming out about the effectiveness of CBD in the treatment of anxiety, it certainly is an exciting time. Researchers are now able to see what effects CBD has on the brain and therefore can use it in controlled settings to see how the treatment works with proper patients. The costs of many of the standard anxiety treatments are significant, which is why many are turning to the likes of CBD since it is the more affordable option.
There is more work to be done to figure out what the potential long-term effects of CBD use may be in order to demonstrate its safety, but it may very well soon be a significant alternative treatment option to what is currently being put forward by the pharmaceutical companies. CBD is certainly here to stay, as more and more CBD-related products are going to be brought to market in the future.