Anxiety confession: the first time I had a panic attack was when I got high on marijuana for the first time.
Panic attacks as a result of using brain altering substances, like drugs, happen often – mostly in those predisposed to anxiety and panic already. What happens is the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) binds to cannaboid 1 receptors, leading to the feeling of being high. It is this simple receptor connection that stimulates panic and anxiety symptoms in some individuals.
So it may then seem counterintuitive to go back to the cannabis plant to look for a cure for the very thing it can induce – but stick with me here. CBD, or cannabidiol, is a whole different compound found in the cannabis plant. CBD is actually thought to balance the plant by counteracting the THC. Specifically, CBD does this by inducing a sense of calm and relaxation. Given it’s effects, studies are being done on if CBD can help those with an anxiety-related disorder.
The research on the subject is new, but promising. A 2017 review concluded that “the studies assessed clearly suggest an anxiolytic-like effect of CBD in both animal models and healthy volunteers”. Although evidence is still being gathered, researchers do believe that CBD may prove useful in treating anxiety disorders.
CBD is taken in oil form because it is fat soluble and can be administered in a couple of different ways:
There is also no short of anecdotal evidence. I have a friend, Mara, who uses CBD oil concentrate every morning. “It’s changed my life”, she said confidently. “I take it every morning. It has completely eliminated my physical symptoms of anxiety.” She used to wake up sweating with anxiety, but her mornings are totally different now.
I am quite open about my anxiety and what I use to treat it, so my conversation with Mara wasn’t the first time I had talked openly with others about the benefits of CBD oil for anxiety. I’ve had it recommended to me dozens of times – but this was before I fully understood the differences between THC and CBD, so I admit I was initially skeptical.
But with those gaps now filled in and the academic and anecdotal research compiled, I’m left feeling intrigued. Should I add CBD into my self care routine?
There are pros and cons to taking CBD oil as a treatment for anxiety:
- Academic research supporting it’s efficacy to treat anxiety
- A natural compound
- Multiple ways to administer
- Potential to reduce anxiety significantly
- Many researchers agree that more studies are required on the subject
- Illegal for non-medicinal use in Canada (would need a prescription)
- Can be expensive
Do I think CBD is a cure for anxiety? Well, I don’t believe there is such a thing as a cure for anxiety – only ways to manage it. But I think CBD is a great option in terms of how to do that.
The things we use to help our anxiety and manage it’s symptoms are tools. The more tools we have, the better resourced we are. The better resourced we are, the more we are simply equipped to handle life. Especially for those still struggling with anxiety often, CBD oil could provide a bit of relief. It is my belief that as time goes on, more research will come out in support of CBD oil as a treatment for anxiety.
As for myself, I’m still mulling it over as I’ll be travelling significantly this year (and therefore can’t commit to taking it consistently). I’d love to hear your thoughts – have you tried CBD oil? Do you use it for anxiety? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
Friendly reminder: make sure you do your research and consult a professional or two before you begin taking anything new to treat your anxiety.
Bhattacharyya, Sagnik et al. “Acute Induction of Anxiety in Humans by Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol Related to Amygdalar Cannabinoid-1 (CB1) Receptors.” Scientific Reports 7 (2017): 15025. PMC. Web. 9 May 2018.
Blessing, Esther M. et al. “Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders.” Neurotherapeutics 12.4 (2015): 825–836. PMC. Web. 9 May 2018.
Soares, Vanessa P., and Alline C. Campos. “Evidences for the Anti-Panic Actions of Cannabidiol.” Current Neuropharmacology 15.2 (2017): 291–299. PMC. Web. 9 May 2018.