Can CBD Treat Anxiety?

When faced with a stressful situation, our bodies respond by releasing a flood of stress hormones. These hormones produce a set of well-orchestrated physiological changes designed to help us cope with perceived threats to our safety and welfare.

Although we don’t normally think of fight-or-flight as a positive response, it’s a vital evolutionary adaptation for self-preservation, which helps us survive, make better choices and be motivated to act.

But the problem is that we’re now living in urban jungles, not wild ones. The threat of being eaten by a wild predator is pretty low. Yet many of us continue to experience a continued fight-or-flight response with persistent feelings of anxiety that can lead to anxiety-related disorders.

Anxiety Disorders and Treatments in the U.S.

In the U.S., an estimated 18 percent of people ages 18 and older, suffer from anxiety-related disorders. That’s roughly 40 million people.

For many, managing this anxiety means taking a cocktail of pharmaceuticals, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac and Zoloft, and tranquilizers such as Valium and Xanax.

Although these drugs can be effective for many, not everyone has a good experience using them. For many patients, the range of debilitating side effects are often worse than the actual anxiety; others simply don’t see much improvement at all. In addition, especially in the case of tranquilizers that fall in the benzodiazepine class of drugs, these medications can be highly addictive, causing a secondary set of problems for many of these patients.

No wonder that many people suffering from anxiety disorders are looking for non-addictive, effective and more natural alternatives such as cannabidiol (CBD).

Cannabidiol for Treating Anxiety

A growing body of anecdotal evidence exists for using CBD to treat symptoms of anxiety and stress. The internet is full of reviews and comments along the lines of, “CBD helps me manage my anxiety” and, “Since using CBD I’m less stressed and anxious.”

However, there is also a growing body of evidence in scientific literature that suggests CBD does show promise as an anxiolytic, the scientific name for any compound that has anti-anxiety properties. 

For example, in a 2015 study, researchers reviewed 49 primary preclinical, clinical, and epidemiological studies to assess CBD’s potential as a treatment for anxiety-related disorders. They found that the data supported the notion that CBD is a potentially powerful anti-anxiety treatment when administered as needed—especially for the following conditions:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Panic disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder (SAD)
  • Obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

How CBD Works

To date, most of the research dealing with CBD for anxiety is based on pre-clinical and animal studies. However, an increasing body of data describing the anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects of CBD in humans is starting to emerge, giving scientists insight into how CBD might help people suffering from anxiety disorders. 

Scientists theorize that the anti-anxiety effects of CBD is due to:

  1. the way it interacts with the neurobiology of the brain
  2. the way it affects serotonin levels
  3. because it may have the ability to help regenerate neurons in areas of the brain often associated with anxiety and mood

Neurobiological Interaction

One way scientists believe CBD can help with anxiety is how it interacts with the limbic and paralimbic brain areas—the areas of the brain which are thought to be associated with mood and emotional processing. 

A small double-blind study of 10 participants suffering from social anxiety disorder (SAD) tested this theory by using single-photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT) imaging that measures regional cerebral blood flow patterns in the brain. They found that, after the administration of a single 400 mg dose of orally administered CBD, participants reported a marked reduction in feelings of anxiety. Moreover, the SPECT imaging confirmed their hypothesis showing that the anxiolytic effects of CBD is associated with changes in the functional activity of brain areas implicated in the processing of anxiety.

A similar study looked at how participants with SAD performed in a simulated public speaking scenario after being given CBD. As in the other study, participants also reported reduced feelings of anxiety, and objective anxiety measures such as heart rate and blood pressure confirmed this. They concluded that CBD has the ability to significantly reduce anxiety, cognitive impairment and discomfort.

Serotonin Interaction

Scientists believe that the neurotransmitter serotonin is one of the major players in mood disorders. This is why medications called serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac and Zoloft are believed to help reduce feelings of anxiety. 

SSRI’s work by blocking the reabsorption of serotonin in the brain, in turn increasing its availability in the synaptic space. This helps brain cells transmit more of the serotonin signals that reduce anxiety and boost mood.

In an animal study, researchers found that CBD boosts serotonin signaling via the same 5-HT1A subtype of the serotonin receptor that SSRI’s target. What’s more, they even found that CBD may affect serotonin faster than SSRI’s. “The fast onset of antidepressant action of CBD and the simultaneous anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effect would solve some of the main limitations of current antidepressant therapies,” according to the study.

Hippocampal Neurogenesis

The limbic system, which includes the hippocampus, is thought to play a vital role in emotional processing and mood. Brain scans of patients suffering from anxiety often show that they have a smaller hippocampus, and the severity of the symptoms relating to the severity and duration of the disorder. 

Successful treatment of anxiety disorders is often associated with the birth of new neurons (neurogenesis) in the hippocampus. And because of its similarities with SSRI’s, CBD also shows the potential of helping to regenerate neurons in the hippocampus, which leads some scientists to believe this could be one of the mechanisms in which it can help treat anxiety disorders.

How to Use CBD for Anxiety

Because CBD can have some contraindication and doesn’t interact well with certain medications such as certain anti-epileptics and blood thinners, it isn’t a good choice for some. That is why, before using CBD for anxiety, it’s important to speak to your treating physician first.

It’s also important to use a high-quality product and figure out your personal ideal serving size. A study conducted in the ’90s found that servings starting at around 2.5 and going up to 5 and even 10 mg per kilogram of weight significantly increased the anxiolytic effect of CBD. However, CBD at a dose of 20 mg per kilogram was no longer effective, which means that more is not necessarily more. Using a CBD dosage calculator such as this one from ID Weeds or CBD Oil Users can help you figure out the right serving size for you.

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Supplement Fatigue? These Are the 4 Dailies You Should Know About

No question: CBD is the No. 1 supplement that I recommend in my practice. But it’s certainly not the only one. As a dietitian, my ultimate goal is for my clients to meet all their nutritional needs through food. It’s not always possible, so once we’ve optimized their diet—think lean protein, tons of greens, healthy fats and indulgences when needed—I also like to give them additional support with supplements.

I’ve learned both personally and professionally that too many supplements (pills, powders, tinctures, etc.) will lead to a cupboard of unused products.I’m very deliberate with my suggestions because otherwise it’s overwhelming. I’ve narrowed my list down to four favorite natural supplements. 

1. CBD

My top choice is CBD. I’ve found that most of my clients have positive experiences with a CBD supplement in the morning or evening. I only recommend a full-spectrum, organically grown product. 

2. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is another supplement I recommend often. This super cool vitamin has been linked to a boosted immune system, healthier bones and even increased brain health. 

Vitamin D is often fortified (meaning added to) certain foods such as milk. It’s also found in egg yolks, canned fish or even through sun exposure. But between the limited food choices and the challenge with getting enough healthy sun exposure (always wear sunscreen!), it’s hard to meet those needs. That’s why I recommend my clients supplement with vitamin D. 

3. Magnesium

I like to think of magnesium as my secret weapon. This awesome mineral does so much for our bodies yet so many people don’t get enough. 

Magnesium is a well-known natural relaxant. It helps calm your mind, relax your muscles and can help with digestive woes. It’s found in bananas, spinach and even chocolate. But, even with those with incredibly healthy diets, I still find that magnesium before bed can be incredibly beneficial. 

4. Probiotic

Last but certainly not least is a probiotic. It seems strange to add bacteria to our bodies, but the truth is that our gut is filled with bacteria. We want to have more “good” bacteria than bad.

Research shows that over 70 percent of your immune system is based out of your gut, so it’s a big enough reason to keep it as healthy as possible. Taking a probiotic doesn’t replace eating foods that are good for your gut, so I still ask my clients to eat good quality yogurts or kefir, kimchi or kombucha.

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5 Industry Insights on the Future of CBD

The CBD category boom has left a wide range of industry experts curious as to the future of business sectors that CBD has the potential to disrupt. Recently, Marijuana Business Daily Magazine debuted the Hemp Industry Daily Conference alongside its annual MJBizCon NEXT, both held in New Orleans from June 12-14, 2019.

Although the Hemp Industry Daily Conference sessions focused specifically on the hemp and CBD industries, MJBizCon NEXT 2019 also offered valuable insights into the fast-growing CBD sector. These insights primarily target business owners and industry professionals, but they also offer CBD consumers a glimpse into where the market, regulations and products are heading.

1. CBD industry growth has surged faster than regulators can keep up with.

The 2018 Farm Bill reclassified hemp as an agricultural product from its previous status as a Schedule I controlled substance alongside other cannabis genus plants. However, according to Michael Bronstein, president of the American Trade Association for Cannabis & Hemp, in his lecture session “Where Are We Now? The Hemp Legal Landscape,” the 2018 Farm Bill did not “legalize” hemp so much as it legalized the regulation of hemp.

This means states can now submit regulatory plans for approval to the federal government to create the framework under which CBD and hemp businesses can legally operate. But the industry and government still have catching up to do to better regulate new and existing CBD products and businesses as the sector continues to boom.

In one major step forward, the FDA held its first-ever public hearing on CBD products on May 31, 2019. There, industry experts, business owners, and CBD users came forth with their research, opinions and case studies. Attendees and FDA regulators discussed why certain regulations regarding CBD should or shouldn’t be put into place as this new regulatory framework takes shape.

2. The industry needs increased more accurate CBD testing and labeling.

Per federal regulations, hemp and its byproducts, including hemp-derived CBD, sold in the U.S. market cannot contain a THC percentage beyond .3 percent. But without proper regulations in place, CBD business owners have struggled with certain ancillary business needs, such as banking and product testing.

Lack of adequate product testing means that products have been flooding the market, but the label claims don’t always match the chemical makeup of the product itself. Although some mislabeling could be mistakes or careless errors, others could be more intentional. And, bottom line, all have the potential to be harmful to consumers if they are unaware of the quantity or quality of CBD and THC in these products.

3. Hemp laws still vary by state, which can impact CBD sales and regulations.

The 2018 Farm Bill paved the way for states to develop their own regulatory framework for hemp-derived CBD production and distribution. But this also leaves business owners and consumers to deal with a patchwork of regulations.

In other words, in one state, CBD regulations may amount to little more than lax enforcement of the federal rules currently in place. One state over, however, CBD retailers may face police raids and seizures of product even though their businesses operate legally by federal guidelines.

Throughout the conference, industry experts voiced concerns that this sort of state-by-state patchwork regulatory system could cause complications for interstate commerce on the business end. As for consumers, patchwork regulations could impact CBD consumption when traveling between states, as one Disney World visitor recently learned the hard way.

4. CBD will impact a wide range of industries, likely inspiring major corporations to jump onboard.

As regulators hammer out legal frameworks, more businesses are joining the CBD push—including major corporations in the food and beverage and consumer packaged goods spaces. Ben & Jerry’s has already announced its intention to develop a CBD ice cream, and retailers Kroger and CVS have announced they will carry CBD products in their stores in select states.

Fear that the industry will “sell out” is a common reaction to corporations joining the CBD movement. But on the positive side, involvement from major companies can bring a host of other benefits to this still fledgling industry:

  • Easier and increasingly wide-ranging access to CBD products at retail, both brick-and-mortar and online
  • Potentially more cost-effective alternatives, if mass-produced in existing corporate facilities
  • An influx of research and development capital into the industry, particularly for startups and corporate incubators
  • Increased lobbying influence for state and federal government agencies

As larger companies join the fray, the CBD industry continues to see new problems and solutions arise, while regulators—and consumers—work to keep up.

5. CBD has potential as an alternative treatment option to substance abuse and addiction, including opiates.

Opiates remain a common treatment option for individuals suffering from chronic pain and other ailments, but opiates have also become the leading driver of drug overdoses in the U.S. This has left survivors, victims, their loved ones and caretakers desperate for solutions to this potentially life-threatening addiction.

Born from this need for an alternative, many CBD-related success stories stem from individuals who experimented with and improved their quality of life by replacing opiates and other habit-forming medications with CBD products. Many CBD small business owners perusing the conference’s showfloor attended to gather the data and industry connections they needed to bring their products to market.

The first annual Hemp Industry Daily Conference united CBD industry enthusiasts from around the globe and brought forth an exciting array of industry insights to see CBD well into its bright new future.

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Hubble’s Portrait of Star’s Gaseous Glow

Although it looks more like an entity seen through a microscope than a telescope, this rounded object, named NGC 2022, is certainly not algae or tiny, blobby jellyfish. Instead, it is a vast orb of gas in space, cast off by an aging star. via NASA