According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA), almost 20 percent of Americans 18 and older are affected by anxiety disorders. This makes it the most common form of mental illness in the country! Yet, despite anxiety disorders being highly treatable, only 36.9 percent of the 40 million who suffer receive treatment.
Among those who do seek treatment, doctors report high rates of nonadherence when it comes to medication regimens. A primary reason for this is due to adverse drug reactions associated with medication being taken.
There are many reasons people might diverge from taking prescription medications or simply not seeking their doctor’s help to begin with. We can’t be sure exactly why, and we’ll leave it to the experts to further investigate it. However, we know that natural supplements like cannabidiol (CBD) are gaining popularity as a treatment for anxiety. In fact, in a Gallup survey that reported one in seven Americans has tried CBD products like CBD capsules, 20 percent of those who did used it to help with their anxiety!
So, should you try using CBD for anxiety? Keep reading to help you decide!
What Is Anxiety?
First, let’s figure out if you have anxiety that needs treating.
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) describes anxiety as a normal reaction to stress and that not all anxiety is bad. However, it’s when it becomes an anxiety disorder that a problem arises. That’s when the general feelings of anxiety and concerns about the future are exhibited in muscle tension and avoidance behaviors, combined with fear, an emotional response to a perceived danger.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services lists the five major types of anxiety disorders as:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Panic Disorder
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Social Phobia/Social Anxiety Disorder
These various disorders share a lot of common symptoms, including:
- Perpetual or constant nervousness that results in a restless, tense state.
- Difficulty focusing or concentrating for an extended
- The feeling of being in constant danger, triggering the natural fight or flight response.
- Physical indications like rapid heart rate or rapid breathing.
- Suffering from insomnia, which can involve trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep.
If any of this is sounding familiar, you may be dealing with an anxiety disorder.
What Is CBD? Why Can It Help?
So then, what’s CBD, and why can it help?
CBD is a naturally occurring compound, known as a cannabinoid, that is extracted from hemp plants. It differs from its popular sister cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) because it is not psychoactive, meaning it won’t make you high.
What CBD can do, however, is connect to receptors in your endocannabinoid system (ECS), a unique cell-signaling network that runs throughout your body. These receptors – called CB1 and CB2 receptors – are found throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems. They cross paths with other systems as well, including digestive and reproductive. In fact, it might be easier to list what the ECS isn’t connected to than what it is.
Let’s take a look at some of the research that examined CBD’s effects on anxiety disorders.
A large case series that examined the use of CBD as an adjunct therapy in patients with anxiety and sleep problems delivered favorable results. They reported that 79 percent of patients had decreased anxiety scores, and 66 percent had improved sleep scores. These researchers recommended additional clinical studies to further explore and substantiate their own findings.
Another study that looked at CBD’s use for the treatment of anxiety disorders also found favorable results. The focus was on overly persistent emotional memories and general emotional regulation. Researchers concluded that CBD’s potential to regulate emotion and emotional memory processing may lead to broader use and widespread acceptance to treat anxiety-related disorders.
How to Use CBD for Anxiety
When it comes to using CBD for anxiety, you have a lot of options.
Generally, people who deal with daytime anxiety like to take their CBD in the morning or afternoon. Those who suffer from chronic insomnia opt to take their CBD about 30 minutes before bed to help them sleep better. When you take CBD will depend on your desired results and how CBD interacts with your system.
CBD is available in a wide variety of forms. These days, you’ll find several different CBD oils and CBD tinctures on the market. These allow you to take your CBD sublingually, meaning under the tongue. You can also opt for CBD capsules or CBD gummies that make for a convenient, portioned and portable way to get CBD into your routine. And for those who are more experienced or have a sense of culinary adventure, cooking and creating infusions with CBD flowers is another option.
The amount you take will vary depending on many personal factors, including body size, fitness levels, metabolic rate, age and more. However, for those just starting out, 20mg of CBD per day is a good baseline. After a week of consistent use, you can then decide to increase your serving size if you’re not feeling all the benefits yet.
Other Natural Supplements That Fight Anxiety
If you want to stay in the cannabinoid family, you should definitely look into cannabigerol (CBG). It’s known as the mother of cannabinoids because it’s the precursor to CBD and THC in hemp and cannabis plants. CBG is interesting because it mimics aspects of both CBD and THC in how it interacts with ECS receptors and is still not psychoactive. Generally, most hemp and cannabis plants yield very little CBG, but some companies have developed CBG-dominant hemp strains leading to the production of high-quality CBG oil.
Valerian root is another popular natural way to deal with anxiety. Those who take valerian root tinctures report that it eases anxiety and promotes a sense of calm, allowing them to fall asleep more easily at night. A night of quality sleep is paramount in dealing with anxiety, especially when insomnia is an issue.
Magnesium may also be a supplement worth adding to your daily routine, according to a systematic review of 18 different studies. An essential nutrient needed for optimal functioning of your body, many people don’t appear to be getting enough. When used to treat stress and anxiety, the results were mixed, but they did indicate that taking magnesium regularly may help people vulnerable to anxiety disorders.
This list is by no means definitive, and several more options exist. It’s always important to talk to your healthcare professional of choice before starting anything new or stopping any current medications. When it comes to issues of anxiety, you’re not alone. It’s okay to reach out for help.