We all feel anxious from time to time. A trip to the dentist or hearing a bump in the night can make even the coolest cucumbers feel uneasy. But for many, anxiety is not a fleeting feeling. More than 18% of Americans suffer from a chronic anxiety disorder, and prolonged stress can have serious effects on your health.
Because anxiety is so prevalent, the pharmaceutical industry has developed countless drugs to treat the nearly 40 million anxiety sufferers. Some anti-anxiety drugs, like Lexapro and Prozac, work by making serotonin (the chemical that regulates anxiety) more readily available in the brain. Others, like Valium and Xanax, are tranquilizers that subdue anxious thoughts. However, these synthetic drugs can be ineffective, addictive and cause unwanted side effects.
Thankfully, there are prescription-free alternatives for managing anxiety like exercise, meditation and natural supplements. One supplement that shows promising signs as an effective anxiety treatment is CBD oil. This plant-based supplement has generated a lot of interest because of its several anti-anxiety properties. And unlike its pharmaceutical counterparts, CBD oil has virtually no negative side effects.
How CBD Affects Your Brain
Preclinical studies suggest that CBD affects our brains in a number of beneficial ways. One way is by blocking the reuptake of serotonin in the brain (much like Lexapro and Prozac). More serotonin in the brain increases cognitive function, decreases anxiety and improves mood. CBD is also believed to generate new brain cells, especially in the hippocampus – a part of the brain that plays a vital role in regulating anxious thoughts. Another way CBD works is by regulating heart rate and blood pressure, which gets blood to flowing throughout the brain.
CBD for Situational Anxiety
Uncomfortable situations can provoke debilitating anxiety. Just the thought of public speaking might may make your palms sweat. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. About 74% of people suffer from speech anxiety, too and CBD may help overcome these temporary hurdles.
In one study, CBD was shown to “significantly reduce anxiety [and] cognitive impairment” of test subjects when asked to do a public speaking exercise. This research suggests CBD might just do the trick for other panic-inducing situations, like flying in an airplane or an important job interview.
CBD for Chronic Anxiety
CBD oil can be an effective tool for managing persistent anxiety, too. CBD oil may relieve symptoms for people suffering from these conditions:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
When searching for anti-anxiety treatments, the last thing you want to do is risk making the anxiety worse.You may have heard that cannabis can reduce anxiety in some, but can cause paranoia in others. This is true, but only when THC is present. THC is the psychoactive compound found in cannabis. Because CBD does not contain THC, it does not exhibit any of the anxiety-inducing effects reported with THC.
So when treating chronic anxiety, play it safe and go with THC-free CBD oil. Not sure the difference between THC and CBD? Read this.
Considerations for Alternative Anxiety Treatments
CBD is certainly not a cure-all for anxiety. Like other treatments, CBD is meant to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety rather than “cure” anxiety. Many of the studies cited above are preclinical trials and more research is needed to fully understand how CBD helps manage anxiety. As with any treatment, you should consult your physician before using CBD oil to treat anxiety.
While more research is needed, the current data on CBD is exciting for people living with anxiety. This all-natural compound may be faster, better and safer than the anti-anxiety medicines currently available. With more research, CBD could be a viable alternative or supplement to pharmaceutical treatment.