Here’s the reality: 40 million US adults, or over 18% of the entire US population, suffers from a type of anxiety disorder. The most common mental illness across the nation, only about 36.9% of those suffering end up receiving treatment, even though anxiety disorders, in general, are highly treatable.
Chronically elevated levels of cortisol as well as other stress hormones can wreak utter chaos on a human body that’s not designed for a perpetual state of panic. With anxiety can come other negative, undesired symptoms, like weight gain, depression, fatigue, digestive problems, a weakened immune system, muscular tension, and even heart disease.
It’s no surprise that so many people are looking for a solution, though we do have to wonder why so few are actually receiving treatment.
In a future world where more people accept their anxiety disorder, we’re happy to see so many consumers look for a solution to their daily anxiety-inducing symptoms. A need for stress relief could not be more pressing for the nation – and we might just the solution to provide that stress relief.
One of the most commonly reported reasons people start taking CBD oil and other CBD products is to manage their stress, reduce their anxiety, and/or calm their nerves. When anxiety seems constantly on the rise in our society, it makes sense that more people are looking towards solutions that don’t involve prescription medicines or pharmaceutical practices.
Rather, more consumers every day are making the switch to or incorporating CBD into their daily lives. While that’s purely anecdotal evidence based on individual experiences, it does beg the question whether there’s any science to back up CBD oil being the potentially effective therapeutic target for anxiety or stress that it may be.
In this guide, we’re going to break open the compiled data we have on the subject, observing the available clinical trials, published studies, and other evidence related to CBD and its connection with stress relief or anxiety. Let’s first dive into details about CBD oil and the potential science behind why it might help relieve some symptoms that correlate with anxiety.
What is CBD Oil?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a cannabinoid that can be extracted from the hemp plant. It’s typically extracted into a base, with the most common being certain types of fatty oils, like coconut oil or MCT oil.
When it’s extracted as an oil, it’s referred to as CBD oil, though it starts out containing the other cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other hemp compounds that were in that strain.
Unless refined down, this results in a full-spectrum CBD oil. If just the THC and undesired substances like chlorophyll are refined, it’s known as broad-spectrum CBD oil. Finally, CBD isolates are just the pure CBD in an oil or other form, stripped of all other hemp compounds.
What is the Endocannabinoid System?
The endocannabinoid system, or ECS, is a map of receptors, called CB1 and CB2, that are located throughout the body. The ECS uses endocannabinoids we naturally produce to help perform a slew of different bodily functions.
CBD oil is rich in the cannabinoids that bind to receptors in the brain and throughout the body. Unlike THC, they don’t bind to the main CB receptors across the endocannabinoid system. Instead, it’s more likely that CBD influences other receptors in the brain, either directly or indirectly, to simply run more efficiently. The receptors that control temperature regulation, pain perception, and our mood, for example, all may be impacted in some way by CBD oil or other CBD products.
A Large Case Series on CBD and Anxiety (and Sleep)
In a case series that had an objective to determine if CBD could help with anxiety and/or sleep in a clinical population, researchers used validated instruments to measure anxiety and sleep scores at baseline as well as after CBD treatment.
The series is one of the largest we have to date that involves human participants, with monthly documentation observing the sleep and anxiety quality levels of 103 adult patients (72 adults with primary concerns of anxiety as their presenting symptom).
Focusing on the anxiety aspect, scores measuring anxiety were decreased for 79.2%, or 57, of the patients within the first month and remained decreased for the rest of the study duration.
Controlled clinical studies are needed, but researchers concluded that cannabidiol could hold potential benefit for anxiety-related disorders. We’re happy to see these kinds of results validate everything we’ve been working toward, but we still look forward to further unbiased research where we can get the true answers.
Anxiolytic Properties of CBD
An anxiolytic is something that inhibits anxiety, so the fact that multiple published reviews and clinical trials indicate that CBD has anxiolytic properties is a huge positive for cannabidiol.
In fact, a 2012 review compiled from the Institute of Psychiatry in Brazil observed whether cannabidiol could work as an anxiolytic drug. They compiled and analyzed studies that could explain its possible mechanisms of action to result in these anxiety-reducing abilities.
They drew conclusions from three different results. First, patients with social anxiety disorders did show signs of reduced anxiety through CBD. Even in animal models and healthy volunteers, though, the anxiolytic-like effects were clearly suggested thanks to CBD.
They determined that future clinical trials with patients that had a more diverse range of anxiety disorders is warranted, and it’s still to be determined as to the precise mechanisms involved in CBD’s anxiolytic-like action and the adequate therapeutic window to benefit most.
CBD’s Influence on Public Speaking Nerves
To get more into specific types of anxiety disorders, one clinical trial did observe CBD’s effect on treatment-naïve social phobia patients. 24 patients that had never been treated for their Generalized Social Anxiety Disorder were given either a placebo of a 600mg dose of CBD in a randomized, double-blind design about an hour and a half before testing. The anxiety that’s induced by simulated public speaking was hypothesized that it might be reduced through CBD.
To rate the patients’ levels of anxiety throughout the experiment, they measured physiological variables like skin conductance, heart rate, and blood pressure, as well as more subjective ratings through a Negative Self-Statement scale and a Visual Analogue Mood Scale.
Those that were unknowingly pretreated with CBD before public speaking measured a notably decreased alert level in their anticipatory speech, and significantly reduced discomfort, cognitive impairment, and anxiety during their actual speech performance. The placebo group experienced higher ratings for their anxiety and discomfort levels across the board.
With this data, researchers concluded that we need further trials and studies on the subject to be able to confirm and reinforce the evidence found in this small clinical experiment. There is promise that CBD may be able to help reduce the anxiety that comes from various types of anxiety disorders.
CBD’s Potential for PTSD
Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is an anxiety disorder which a person has difficulty recovering from after they experience a traumatic, shocking, or terrifying event. One of the most common types of anxiety across the country, there are more than 3 million cases each year.
While people often think of veterans as those that suffer from PTSD, there are victims of sexual abuse and other forms of trauma that are also plagued with the anxiety disorder. One such case report presented a 10-year-old girl, sexually abused and with minimal parental supervision as a young child under 5 years old.
Results with pharmaceutical medications weren’t long-lasting and only provided partial relief – at the cost of experiencing major negative side effects. For the sake of the child’s health and wellbeing, a trial of CBD oil was tested. The patient demonstrated steadily decreased rates of anxiety that then remained decreased, as well as a steady improvement in the quantity and quality of the patient’s sleep.
We aren’t trying to draw conclusions or make medical claims using this case report, but it does provide clinical data that supports CBD oil use as an effective, safe therapeutic target for improving sleep and/or reducing anxiety. More clinical research is necessary in order to conclude anything further from the results of this case report, and we await eagerly more data on the subject.
CBD oil shows a positive promise that it might one day be considered a viable alternative to current anxiety prescription medications. An all-natural solution to pharmaceuticals, we are excited to see more people give CBD oil a try to see what others are talking about.
While it’s not necessarily for everyone, CBD oil and other CBD products have the potential to provide relief to some – and that’s a win in our eyes. Even though almost entirely anecdotal, we’re happy to see more adults use CBD every day, incorporating it into their daily routine to feel the benefits so many others are already experiencing.