CBD Oil for Anxiety

CBD oil is created by extracting CBD compounds from the cannabis plant before incorporating additional oils, such as hemp seed oil.

While CBD oil is still increasing in momentum within the health and wellness world, CBD’s natural yet effective properties make it a popular choice to ease many ailments, including possibly helping with anxiety.

Here at the Cannabis Clinic, I have worked with thousands of people who suffer from anxiety and I will share with you what I have learnt about how effective CBD oil as an option is.

CBD oil and anxiety

  • CBD oil can possibly be a helpful option to support the treatment for anxiety disorders.

Anxiety disorders are extremely common and can affect people from all walks of life. Around 1 in 4 New Zealanders will be affected by anxiety during their lives (1).

While getting anxious is a normal human response, prolonged anxiety can interfere with your ability to carry out regular day-to-day tasks, such as enjoying social interactions or activities with others!

There are various forms of anxiety medication; however, many come with numerous side effects. Luckily, some research shows CBD can possibly decrease anxiety symptoms without traditional medicine’s adverse effects (2).

CBD may help individuals with anxiety by increasing serotonin levels by interacting with receptors. Some people even choose to manage their anxiety and depression with using CBD alone (3).

More research is needed here but the results so far are promising.

Generalized anxiety

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is defined as ongoing and excessive feelings of worry. Treatment for GAD often includes counselling and strong anti-depression medication. If you have anxiety and want to avoid any adverse side effects medication might bring, CBD may be a good option for you to consider.

Low serotonin levels in the brain are related to increased mood swings, depression, and anxiety (4). Cannabidiol (CBD) compounds may possibly decrease feelings of anxiety by influencing receptors involved in the production of serotonin!

So far, most of the research done examining CBD’s effects on anxiety comes from animal studies. However, many of these have shown effective results. Researchers analysed CBD’s effects on stress levels in rats and found lowered behaviour signs of anxiety, with decreased heart rate and other stress signals (5).

Other forms of anxiety

Alongside GAD, other forms of anxiety include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and social anxiety disorder (SAD). A range of common side effects occurs across all the forms, such as insomnia (6).

CBD oil’s wide-ranging effects make it a possible option that may help for treating the many symptoms that come with different anxiety forms.

A recent study showed CBD to affect sleep for both healthy individuals and those who have insomnia. While high doses were needed to create a ‘sleepy’ effect for those who were already healthy, smaller doses were enough to reduce sleep disruption and increase total sleep time in those with insomnia (7).

Other mental health disorders

Anxiety is often linked with other mental health disorders, like depression. Due to CBD’s interaction with serotonin receptors, it may possibly help improve mood and concentration in individuals.

While this research area is still relatively new, many studies have shown that CBD may positively impacts stress levels. A recent review looked at existing research and concluded that CBD has anti-stress effects (8). This give us some insight into how CBD may be able to reduce depression, as stress is one of the major causes of depression!

Another recent study conducted in 2016 found CBD to have strong antipsychotic effects in individuals with schizophrenia. A bonus is that no adverse side effects were observed after CBD use other than those commonly associated with drug treatments (9).

How does CBD possibly help anxiety?

CBD mainly works by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system. This system is a complex group of endocannabinoids and receptors that affect mood and concentration.

Taking CBD allows naturally produced cannabinoids to remain in the body for longer, which may help promote a ‘calming effect’ (10). The result is increased feelings of relaxation, and, you guessed it, decreased feelings of anxiety.

As mentioned earlier, CBD can interact with serotonin receptors present in the brain. While CBD itself doesn’t boost serotonin levels, it can affect how the receptors respond to the serotonin already present (11). It makes sense then that taking CBD is an effective way to boost mood levels, decreasing anxiety feelings.

These effects are not proven and more research is needed.

How to use CBD oil for anxiety

Before trying out CBD oil for anxiety, it is important to talk to your doctor or our clinic. They will have the information necessary to determine whether taking CBD is the best option for you, alongside the correct dosage you may need.

Because there are so many CBD oils on the market globally, it can be good to do some research before being prescribed it. CBD comes in many forms, including tinctures and creams, each with different ways of absorption.

Like with any new incorporation into your regime, starting slow is important. While high-quality CBD products generally do not have side effects, everybody will react differently to CBD oil. Taking small amounts of CBD oil first is a good way of allowing your body to adjust, especially if you haven’t taken CBD products before.

Ultimately, talking to your doctor about dosage is recommended since the effects of CBD will depend on your body composition and anxiety needs.

CBD side effects

While CBD is generally considered to have little to no side effects, some can still occur and should be noted. Side effects often depend on the person; however, common ones include appetite and weight changes (12). These effects are more likely to be experienced in those who haven’t had much experience with CBD products before.

Another reason that many side effects can occur is due to the quality of the CBD product purchased. Reputable CBD companies are always quality-tested, decreasing the chance of any contamination occurring in their products.

The bottom line

CBD oil interacts with the endocannabinoid system and serotonin receptors within the body to possibly help decrease feelings of anxiety. CBD may also ease several symptoms of depression, including decreased mood and insomnia.

It is useful to talk to your doctor before using CBD as a possible option to try help and relieve anxiety. While side effects are limited, especially when using high-quality products, your doctor will be able to determine the correct dosage required for your anxiety needs.

If you would like to speak to a professional about using CBD oil and medicinal cannabis, you can book in with us.

Disclaimer – medicinal cannabis and CBD oil are unapproved medicines in NZ which means that there is no conclusive evidence for their effect, apart from Sativex. Many doctors do not routinely prescribe cannabis medicines. The above article was written for general educational purposes and does not intend to suggest that medicinal cannabis can be used to treat any health condition. Please consult with your healthcare provider. 

MBChB (Otago), BSc (Auckland) - As our tele-medicine doctor and author, Dr. Waseem keeps busy educating both patients and doctors about medicinal cannabis. He also consults with people from all over New Zealand, offering a listening ear and giving the most relevant advice.

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