How Cannabidiol (CBD) Works for Treating Anxiety

How Cannabidiol (CBD) Works for Treating Anxiety

by Jeremy Kossen at www.leafly.com

While we don’t normally think of anxiety as desirable, it’s actually a critical adaptive response that can help us cope with threats to our (or a loved one’s) safety and welfare. These responses help us recognize and avert potential threats; they can also help motivate us to take action to better our situation (work harder, pay bills, improve relationships, etc.). However, when we don’t manage these natural responses effectively, they can become maladaptive and impact our work and relationships. This can lead to clinically diagnosable anxiety-related disorders. We’ve all heard the saying, “stress kills.” It’s true!

Anxiety-related disorders affect a huge segment of our population—40 million adults (18%) in the United States age 18 and older. In response, Big Pharma has developed numerous drugs to treat anxiety-related disorders, from selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Prozac and Zoloft to tranquilizers (the most popular class being benzodiazepines such as Valium and Xanax).

While these drugs can be effective for many patients, some don’t respond favorably. Certain patients don’t see much improvement, or they can’t tolerate the side effects. Moreover, tranquilizers like Valium and Xanax can be highly addictive. Clearly, alternative treatments are warranted. Could cannabidiol (CBD), the most prominent non-intoxicating constituent in cannabis, provide a viable alternative for currently available anxiety medications? Quite possibly!

In recent years, CBD has generated a tremendous amount of interest among consumers, clinicians, and scientists. Why? Not only does evidence suggest CBD counteracts many of THC’s adverse effects, but numerous animal studies and accumulating evidence from human experimental, clinical, and epidemiological studies suggest CBD has powerful anti-anxiety properties. Administered acutely (“as needed”), it appears safe, well-tolerated, and may be beneficial to treat a number of anxiety-related disorders, including:

  • Panic disorder

  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

  • Social phobia

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

  • Mild to moderate depression

How Does CBD Work?

CBD exerts several actions in the brain that explain why it could be effective in treating anxiety. Before we dive in, it’s important to note that most research describing how CBD works is preclinical and based on animal studies. As the saying goes, “mice are not men” — and, results from animal studies don’t always neatly transfer to human therapies. However, preclinical studies provide insights that move us in the right direction:

5-HT1A agonist: 5-HT1A is a subtype of the serotonin receptor, which is important because anxiety and depression can sometimes be treated with medications that target the serotonin system. This is why drug companies developed selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Prozac and Zoloft. SSRIs work by blocking reabsorption of serotonin in the brain, which increases availability of serotonin in the synaptic space. This helps brain cells transmit more serotonin signals, which can reduce anxiety and boost mood in certain cases (although the full biological basis for this is more complicated and not fully understood).

Similar to SSRIs, CBD may boost signaling through serotonin receptors. In an animal study, Spanish researchers found that CBD enhances 5-HT1A transmission and may affect serotonin faster than SSRIs. 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.”

Hippocampal neurogenesis: The hippocampus is a major brain area, and plays a critical role in a variety of brain functions. It’s most famous for its role in memory formation and cognition. Brain scans of patients suffering from depression or anxiety often show a smaller hippocampus, and successful treatment of depression is associated with the birth of new neurons (neurogenesis) in the hippocampus.

An animal study using mice found repeated administration of CBD may help the hippocampus regenerate neurons, which could be useful for treating anxiety or depression. Research shows both SSRIs and CBD may promote neurogenesis. This is significant, because evidence suggests that severely impaired neuronal plasticity may influence suicidal behavior. Future research comparing CBD and SSRIs effect on neurogenesis could open up promising new avenues in how we understand depression and how to most effectively treat it.

How Can CBD Help Anxiety?

Building on the foundation of animal studies, human studies are starting to provide evidence to demonstrate that CBD can improve many commonly reported anxiety-disorder symptoms, including acute stress and anxiety.

Human Studies Show How CBD Reduces Anxiety

Brazilian researchers conducted a small double-blind study of patients afflicted with generalized social anxiety. After consuming CBD, participants reported a significant decrease in anxiety. Researchers validated patients’ subjective reports by performing brain scans showing cerebral blood flow patterns consistent with an anti-anxiety effect.

In another small study, researchers had patients suffering from Social Anxiety Disorder perform a simulated public speaking test. Participants reported significantly less anxiety, findings supported by objective anxiety indicators like heart rate and blood pressure.

Researchers concluded, “[CBD] significantly reduced anxiety, cognitive impairment, and discomfort in their speech performance,” whereas the placebo group experienced “higher anxiety, cognitive impairment, [and] discomfort.”

Final Thoughts

Evidence from animal studies have begun to characterize the details of how CBD acts in the brain, and human studies of patients with and without anxiety disorders are starting to validate CBD’s efficacy as an anti-anxiety treatment. Given the huge social and financial costs of anxiety disorders in the U.S., CBD has the potential to play a significant role in treating a myriad of anxiety-related disorders.

While more research, including large randomized-control trials (RCTs), is clearly warranted to examine the long-term effects and potential for CBD, its demonstrated efficacy and highly favorable safety profile (particularly when compared to currently available drugs) make it a viable alternative or adjunct to currently available pharmaceuticals.

References

Blessing EM, Steenkamp MM, Manzanares J, Marmar CR. Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders. Neurotherapeutics. 2015;12(4):825-36. PDF

Malberg JE, Eisch AJ, Nestler EJ, Duman RS. Chronic antidepressant treatment increases neurogenesis in adult rat hippocampus. J Neurosci. 2000;20(24):9104-10. PDF

Zlebnik NE, Cheer JF. Beyond the CB1 Receptor: Is Cannabidiol the Answer for Disorders of Motivation?. Annu Rev Neurosci. 2016;39:1-17. PDF

Fallacies on Hemp and CBD.....

So, I was reading a recent article by ProjectCBD.org by By Martin A. Lee & Zoe Sigman On May 22, 2019 .

It is a great article on 5 fallacies of hemp, we are talking about the industrial hemp plant that is used to make fiber, construction material, etc… I think it is important to understand these myths because people blindly purchase products because the producer says it’s great…but in reality they are not as effective or tranparent by putting the important information on the labels of the products that clearly tell the consumer how much of each cannabinoid is in the product. There is ALOT of misinformation out there and people that I know think that CBD oil is all the same….WRONG!! They still don’t know the difference between hemp derived CBD oil and a tincture made from the whole plant of a cannabis strain which contains so much more CBD than hemp. Here is one of the myths Martin Lee from ProjectCBD talks about…..please read this short article and please share it with your friends and family so they can be educated on the subject!

Elizabeth

Fallicy #5 - Industrial hemp is a good source for extracting CBD oil.

The CBD molecule is exactly the same whether extracted from industrial hemp or other forms of cannabis. But the quality of the CBD products made from industrial hemp that’s grown for fiber or seed protein is typically inferior to the products made from CBD-rich “drug” plants that are grown specifically for medicinal oil extraction.

The quality of the CBD products made from industrial hemp is typically inferior to the products made from CBD-rich “drug” plants.

CBD is the most common cannabinoid present in industrial hemp, but the CBD levels top out at about 3.5% by dry weight – much less than the remarkable varieties of CBD-rich cannabs flower grown for medicine that can reach as high as 20% CBD by dry weight. Because industrial hemp produces relatively small amounts of CBD, a huge amount of hemp biomass is necessary to produce a significant quantity of CBD oil. (This equals more land and more waste!)

Such a large amount of plant material means there’s a greater likelihood that toxic contaminants will be concentrated in the CBD oil extracted from industrial hemp, which will suck up and absorb any pesticides or heavy metals present in the soil through a process known as “bioaccumulation.” This is excellent for cleaning up a toxic waste site, but not so good for medicinal oil extraction and production. Industrial hemp and its extracts usually aren’t subject to stringent (state-level) regulations governing pesticide and solvent residues, and these contaminants end up in CBD products manufactured by unscrupulous producers.

It’s noteworthy that the phrasing of the 2018 Farm Bill refers to “hemp” rather than “industrial hemp.” The decision to drop the word “industrial” from legislative parlance is a reflection of the primacy of CBD in the brave new world of legal hemp. Industrial hemp cultivated for fiber and seed isn’t CBD-rich. But new high-resin cannabis cultivars are becoming available that have been bred specifically to produce copious quantities of CBD with less than 0.3 percent THC, thereby satisfying the federal government’s absurd legal criteria for hemp.

I will post the other fallacies Martin Lee talks about in the following blogs….