Everyone on of us experiences anxiety. It is an emotion and response that is built into the nervous system to motivate us and keep us safe. Feeling anxious about crossing the street at an unlighted intersection, or running away from eminent danger, are all situations that our brain processes and produces anxiety to trigger a reaction. When these responses escalate to a level that hinders the quality of life that someone is able to live, it becomes a very serious condition that we classifying as an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders include:
Phobia is the fear of certain situations, animals or objects. People who suffer from phobias often alter their life and daily routines to avoid the things that they fear.
Panic disorder, which is the repeated occurrence of sudden panic attacks that can cause serious physical and mental symptoms like accelerated heart rate, shortness of breath, racing thoughts and nausea. Like anxiety itself, panic attacks can be triggered by everyday situations and motivate us to react but with panic disorder the panic attacks seem to have no real trigger, starting at sudden and spontaneous intervals.
Social anxiety disorder
Social anxiety disorder is characterized by an intense fear of being evaluated negatively or being embarrassed publicly. People who suffer from social anxiety often avoid public interaction.
Agoraphobia is the fear of situations that could lead to a person being trapped, unable to escape or able to find help in the event of a panic attack. Large crowded stores, public venues and even crowded streets, often keep suffers from leaving their home.
General anxiety disorder
People who suffer from general anxiety disorder, worry excessively about things that do not warrant worry at all. Minor problems or things that can not be controlled often monopolize the mind of someone with generalized anxiety disorder.
How does cannabidiol (CBD) fit into the anxiety picture? The Endocannabinoid System is the largest system of nerve receptors in the human body and Anandamide and 2-AG, which are two Endocannabinoids produced inside are body, act as neurotransmitters within the system. As neurotransmitters, the rate at which these cannabinoids flow between receptor ends, dictates the reaction of each receptor. There are two separate types of receptors in the Endocannabinoid System, CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors, which use anandamide as their neurotransmitter, are located throughout the body but they are concentrated mainly in the brain and control pain, emotion, mood, thinking, memory, coordination, and movement. CBD, which is a phytocannabinoid, when introduced into the system, has the ability to suppress or increase the rate at which anandamide and 2-AG are flowing. What makes CBD a good treatment option for anxiety is its ability to be a neuromodulator, acting to return the receptors and the entire CB1 system to a state of homeostasis. During anxiety and panic attacks, CBD slows the flow of neurotransmitters and returns the system to a normal state. CBD is also preferred for treating anxiety because it is a non-psychoactive phytocannabinoid, unlike THC.
Doctors with patients who suffer from anxiety often warn against the dangers of THC as it can actually trigger and amplify feelings of paranoia and anxiety but CBD is the exact opposite and helps patients feel calm and relaxed. The current pharmaceutical drugs being used to treat most anxiety and depression disorders, unlike CBD, are often ineffective or cause side effects that encourage patients to discontinue their use and go with no treatment at all. Serotonin reuptake inhibitors, serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, benzodiazepine, tricyclic antidepressant drugs and partial 5-hydroxytryptamine receptor antagonists only deal with one part of the problem they are prescribed for, meaning suffers often have to take a combination of drugs to treat the problem. Anticonvulsants and atypical antipsychotics are no different and in many cases show limited response but have residual side effects. CBD is a full spectrum cannabinoid with the ability to be an inhibitor and an antagonist depending on the current state of the receptor.
Side effects for patients taking CBD for anxiety are very few and, in most cases, are far more manageable then the side effects of current prescription medications. Benzodiazepine is currently the most prescribed anti-anxiety medication in North America. It’s list of side effects includes drowsiness, grogginess, trembling, impaired coordination, dizziness, vision problems, feelings of depression and headaches. The severity and annoyance of the side effects often forces patients to stop taking them and go unmediated altogether.
In a recent report (2017) released by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, entitled “An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies” revealed the major side effects to be tiredness, diarrhea and changes in appetite/weight. Most patients using CBD to relieve anxiety, find these side effects to be manageable and easily controlled, making it possible for suffers to continue a supplement plan with little to no discomfort.
CBD has many different delivery systems and methods of absorption but most take time to assimilate into the bloodstream. Anxiety attacks are sudden and often unpredictable, so immediate relief of the symptoms is needed to moderate their severity. Currently, smoking dry CBD flower or vaporizing CBD infused eJuice, by way of a handheld vaporizer or ePen, is the fastest way to distribute CBD. When the smoke or vapour produced, enters the lungs, it immediately enters the bloodstream on it’s way to the heart for redistribution to the brain and body. This allows the CBD to react with the receptors quickly and calm an anxiety attack before it has a chance to get out of control. In most cases, the onset of relief comes within seconds and the calming effects of the dose can be felt for up to 3 hours.
The daily use of full spectrum CBD oil tinctures, in small doses throughout the day, help to modulate receptor activity which in turn lessens the severity and frequency of anxiety attacks. The use of the two delivery systems in tandem can offer the best defence against Anxiety, helping the suffer extend the amount of time between severe anxiety attacks over the long term, as well as, the ability to lessen the effects of an attack after it has occurred.