Can Cannabis Help With Anxiety?
Prozac. Zoloft. Valium. Xanax. We’ve all heard of these drugs at one point or another. We’re all at least vaguely aware that they’re used to treat a range of anxiety-related disorders, which over forty million adults in the US alone suffer from.
These drugs, developed by Big Pharma, have been an effective remedy for a great many patients, but how do they work? What are the risks, and is there a natural alternative (such as cannabis) that can be easily obtained, and enjoyed by way of vaping or other mediums?
Drugs like Zoloft and Prozac are also known as SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. These block the reabsorption of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter within the body that is believed to help regulate mood, social behaviors, appetite, memory, sleep, digestion, and sexual desire.
The Serotonin Link
The links between serotonin and depression and other anxiety-related disorders are still being studied. Blocking its reabsorption increases its availability in synaptic space which aids brain cells in transmitting more serotonin signals, which potentially reduces anxiety and boosts moods. That said, the entire chain reaction is still not fully understood and is far more complicated, but this is the generally understood idea.
How effective are they, and what are the risks?
Many patients respond well to these drugs, but what about the people who don’t respond well to these treatments, or have no response at all? Or can’t handle the side effects? Or simply have allergies or other disorders that make these treatments impossible? Some of these drugs can also be highly addictive, which isn’t good for anyone.
Is there an Alternative?
So what do these people do? Well, they have little choice other than to look into alternative methods of treatment. But what kind of treatments are there other than the Big Pharma drugs that are marketed so well that we all know their names?
Well, as marijuana is being legalized in more and more states, interest in cannabis and its extract, cannabidiol (also known as CBD), has become more widespread among consumers, scientists, clinicians, and the general public.
Researchers are still trying to nail down what the exact effects of CBD are, but after numerous animal studies and the widespread evidence accumulating from various human studies, it’s become highly believed that CBD does indeed have very powerful anti-anxiety properties that may rival the Big Pharma drugs and may even help ease aches and pains as well. Studies have shown that when administered in small, as-needed dosages, it remains safe and well-tolerated by the patient.
Knowledge Check: CBD vs CBG
The Role of CBD
CBD has been used to treat a number of disorders such as OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), GAD (generalized anxiety disorder), panic disorder, social phobia, and mild to moderate depression.
Despite this, it’s good to remember that the bulk of research describing how CBD works is based on animal studies, but, researchers believe we’re heading in the right direction and human studies have been, and still are, being conducted.
But it’s not a drug, right? It’s an oil extract from a plant that is mostly known for giving people the giggles and the munchies, so how does it work? Is it just like smoking pot but without the smoking part?
Well, since CBD is an extract of the plant, it doesn’t have the same effects as smoking marijuana. The plant contains THC, tetrahydrocannabinol, which is the main mind-altering ingredient. This component is absent in the oil. This makes CBD ideal for people seeking stress and anxiety relief but want to avoid the infamous ‘high’ that comes with smoking or vaping marijuana.
At Hemper we carry a full line of legal forms of CBD Products that contain no more than 0.3% THC. Some forms include:
It’s believed that CBD works in a similar way to SSRIs by boosting the signals between serotonin receptors. An animal study on mice has found that CBD may be helping the hippocampus regenerate neurons. The hippocampus is the area of the brain that plays a major role in memory formation and cognition.
Recently, a double-blind study conducted by Brazilian researchers on patients with general social anxiety disorders found that the participants who consumed the CBD reported not only a significant decrease in anxiety, but brain scans showed cerebral blood-flow patterns were consistent with an anti-anxiety effect.
Another study was conducted on patients with social anxiety disorder, which the participants performed in a simulated public speaking test. Those who consumed the CBD reported a significant lack of anxiety. Physical analysis, such as heart rate and blood pressure, prove their claims.
Anxiety disorders have a huge price tag attached to them, both literally and figuratively. Those who suffer from it truly suffer. Socially, mentally, physically, financially.
Research into CBD and cannabis as it relates to anxiety is still in early stages, but what has been done has proven the need for larger and more long-term research to be conducted into the effects, because as it stands, it’s being favored as a viable alternative to the current treatments.
Provided that it’s legal in your state/jurisdiction, and that you have consulted with your doctor, adding vaping of cannabis or CBD oils to your treatment plan may provide you with a natural complimentary treatment option to explore.
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