We’ve likely all experienced some form of anxiety at some point in our lives. It’s a feeling of dread or nervousness that can leave you fatigued, sleep-deprived, nauseous, and unable to concentrate. Anxiety can be highly debilitating.
The good news for sufferers of anxiety is that a new treatment may exist naturally in the form of CBD. While you may not associate hemp with good mental health, research tells us that CBD holds a lot of potential as an anxiolytic.
Anxiety is one of the most common mental disorders that people face. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports that roughly 40 million Americans have experienced some form of anxiety (1).
Anxiety often manifests as feelings of worry or dread and can also result in insomnia, nausea, reduced cognitive function, and paralyzing emotions like fear. Anxiety does not stop at this though; it is also linked to a range of other symptoms and can increase your risk of other conditions. As many as 90% of patients with social anxiety disorder present with comorbidities, which can include bipolar disorder, depression, OCD, phobias, and alcohol use disorders (3).
Antidepressants like SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) are a common treatment for anxiety disorders, however, they do come with some side effects and risks. Side effects from SSRIs can include nervousness, insomnia, headaches, weight gain, and reduced sexual desire. The FDA also released a warning in 2004 stating there may an increased risk of suicide for patients aged 24 and under who use anti-depressants (4).
What Is CBD?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is an active cannabinoid found hemp plants. CBD has seen a recent growth in popularity largely due to its legalization in the 2018 Farm Bill and increased research into the cannabinoid’s positive health effects.
CBD can induce a range of effects on the body and it does this by interacting with non-cannabinoid receptors and other receptor pathways. While it is an active cannabis compound, it can’t get you high. THC, another cannabinoid is instead responsible for the psychotropic effects of cannabis.
Importantly, CBD has shown a strong ability to act as an anxiolytic, reducing the symptoms of anxiety.
How Does CBD Target Anxiety?
So how exactly can CBD act as an anxiolytic and give you the benefits of reduced anxiety?
We know that CBD induces its effects on the body by interacting with specific receptors and it is this interaction where CBD has been found to induce cell responses that lead to a reduction in anxiety.
One way CBD may reduce anxiety is by activating serotonin receptors. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that has a significant impact on mood regulation and is even used to treat mood disorders like anxiety and depression (5). CBD has been found to activate the serotonin receptor 5-HT1A, leading to increased serotonin production and a reduction in anxiety and depression levels (6). One mouse model study found that CBD greatly reduced anxiety through activation of the 5-HT1A receptor (7).
CBD’s interaction with cortisol levels may also play an important role in its anxiolytic properties. Cortisol is a stress hormone and is often found in higher levels in patients with conditions like anxiety and depression (8). CBD has been shown to reduce cortisol levels by affecting cortisol secretion, which could be a factor in CBD’s anxiety-reducing effects (9).
Benefits of CBD for Anxiety
CBD has been shown to reduce the symptoms of anxiety in clinical studies.
A 2019 double-blind placebo trial investigated the effects of CBD on teenagers with social anxiety disorder (10). Participants in the study were given CBD oil daily for a four-week period. They then had their anxiety symptoms measured across two anxiety scales. The results showed that the teenagers experienced significant reductions in their anxiety, on both scale measurements.
Another study published in 2011 also found that CBD reduced anxiety levels in patients with social anxiety disorder (11). This study had participants consume CBD before a public speaking test and then measure their anxiety through a mood scale, blood pressure, and heart rate. However, this study was limited by its small sample size.
Other Benefits of Reduced Anxiety
The anxiolytic effects of CBD could clearly result in improvements to patients’ anxiety levels. However, there is also a less obvious benefit that could occur through CBD’s anti-anxiety effects.
Anxiety can wreak havoc on sleep patterns, and there is a significant link between anxiety and sleep disorders. Research tells us that the anxiety-reducing qualities of CBD may not just improve anxiety but also sleep quality. One study found that CBD reduced anxiety in roughly 79.2% of patients while also improving the sleep scores of 66.7% of patients (12).
The Importance of Quality CBD
If you’re convinced that CBD is the right treatment to tackle your anxiety, it’s important to look for a quality product. While there are many questionable CBD retailers out there, you can still find the good guys if you know what to look for.
Silver Lion Farms grows and extracts premium quality, standardized and safe CBD and CBG. Interestingly, Silver Lion Farms is funded by John Pail DeJoria, co-founder of Patron tequila (Patrón Spirits Company). The CBD industry, like the Tequila industry, is filled with low-quality brands whose quality and standardization are questionable. That’s why knowledgeable customers will always ask for Patrón and Silver Lion Farms.
The Bottom Line
While more research is needed into the efficacy and methods of action of CBD as an anxiolytic, current research indicates that it has a strong ability to reduce anxiety. The anxiety-reducing properties of CBD have the potential to increase the overall quality of life and even improve comorbidities like sleep disorders.
The debilitating effects of anxiety combined with the need for more-tolerable treatment options mean that CBD offers a lot of hope for those struggling with anxiety.