Research shows that cannabidiol is effective in reducing symptoms associated with anxiety, amongst many other things.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety can manifest in healthy and unhealthy ways. Healthy anxiety acts as an alert system for our body to identify threats. In the past when we were hunter-gatherers, our bodies often responded to a predator, such as a bear, with anxiety and excessive worry. We may have found ourselves thinking about where the bear went or if he was going to eat us. This type of anxiety is normal in response to an external stressor. Today, healthy anxiety manifests as performance anxiety, such as worrying about our competence and capabilities when taking a test or giving a speech. However, unhealthy anxiety can have detrimental effects on our brain and bodies.
Anxiety affects about 20% of the adult population and is the experience of excessive worry about a number of different things, which leads to excessive nervousness and an inability to control the worry. Those with anxiety often experience restlessness, irritability, sleep disturbance, and concentration issues. This type of anxiety disrupts the quality of life and well-being and causes difficulty and impairment in functioning. Those with severe anxiety may find it challenging to live in the present moment because they are continually thinking about the future or past situations.
Traditional Treatments for Anxiety
Psychotropic medications used for anxiety include benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines affect the chemistry of your brain by altering the activity of nerves. It is believed that increased nerve activity may lead to anxiety, so benzodiazepines suppress the activity to stimulate a calming effect. However, benzodiazepines may have long-lasting and detrimental side effects for users. Reported side effects include depression, drowsiness, confusion, irritability, sleep disturbances, and increased emotionality days later. Some chronic users report significant memory impairment and reduction in cognitive abilities. Research suggests that long-term use of benzodiazepines may not be the best choice for anxiety symptoms.
Cannabidiol (CBD) Treatment for Anxiety
While there are many prescription drug options for anxiety disorders, cannabidiol is proving to be an effective alternative. Research shows that CBD has anti-anxiety properties that help with a variety of disorders that include anxiety. CBD may be useful for those experiencing generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social phobia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
CBD assists in reducing anxiety for individuals suffering from these disorders on a cellular level. Similar to antidepressants, CBD enhances the effects of serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain. The CBD allows serotonin to be absorbed more readily and makes it available for the brain to metabolize. There have been numerous studies identifying the therapeutic effects of CBD for anxiety. Namely, Brazilian researchers administered CBD to participants with anxiety-related disorders, and they reported lower levels of perceived anxiety post-intervention when compared to pre-intervention.
Additionally, participants had lower heart rates and blood pressure post-intervention. Most importantly, CBD reduced cognitive impairment for those suffering from anxiety. Cognitive impairment is a side effect of most medications prescribed for anxiety.
Best Cannabis Strains for Treating Anxiety
Once you learn that you’re suffering from anxiety, the next step is to choose a strain of CBD that works best for you. Many strains are better suited for those experiencing symptoms of anxiety, including excessive worry, restlessness, cognitive difficulties, and sleep disturbance. Typically, strands higher in CBD or well-balanced with THC are the most effective in reducing symptoms. These strands include Harlequin, Harle-Tsu, ACDC, CBD-Shark, and Canna-Tsu.
Harlequin: This strain is mostly Sativa (75%) known for its high CBD levels. The ratio is typically is 16% CBD to 5% THC. This provides a relaxation response without sedation.
Harle-Tsu: Harle-Tsu has an extremely high amount of CBD, which is almost 19 times that of THC. This type of strain produces an elated effect without euphoria. Some typically report feeling joy after taking it.
ACDC: This is also a Sativa-dominant strain with the highest levels of CBD compared to any other type of cannabinoid. Most people report a deep, relaxed feel after taking it.
CBD-Shark: CBD-Shark is an Indica that has the same amount of CBD and THC. Most people utilize this strain at night, as it may produce slight grogginess. This is helpful for those who have anxiety symptoms before falling asleep.
Canna-Tsu: Finally, Canna-Tsu is a strain that promotes mental clarity and grounding effects. Most people report reduced anxiety while taking it, as it has an equal amount of CBD and THC.
Overall, research indicates that CBD is effective in reducing symptoms associated with anxiety. Anxiety is a condition that affects about 20% of the adult population. It causes impairment in one’s social and occupational endeavors, as well as produce significant distressful symptoms. They include restlessness, irritability, sleep disturbance, and concentration issues.
Although there are many traditional treatments for anxiety, such as benzodiazepines, the side effects have the potential for long-term damage. CBD oil appears to be a safer and more effective alternative for reducing anxiety. As such, numerous strands are advantageous for treating anxiety, including Harlequin, Harle-Tsu, ACDC, CBD-Shark, and Canna-Tsu. CBD should be considered as an effective treatment for those struggling with anxiety.
Ron Goedeke MD, BSc Hons MBChB, FNZCAM
Dr. Ron Goedeke specializes in alternative and functional medicine and sees huge medical potential in cannabis-based extracts such as CBD. With over 20 years of experience in the anti-aging field, Dr. Ron Goedeke is recognized as one of New Zealand’s leaders in this new and growing field of medicine.