Anxiety can be an absolute plague. Raise your hand if you’ve found yourself dealing with it entirely too often, experiencing it when you know full well that you shouldn’t be, your day-to-day activities colored by a persistent worry that you sometimes just can’t seem to turn off.
Guess what: You’re absolutely not alone.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the US, affecting 40 million adults…or 18.1% of the population every year.” More people deal with anxiety than we might realize, and to compound things just a bit, the ADAA also notes that only about 37% of those with anxiety issues actually seek treatment.
This is in large part due to the fact that, when it starts to truly rage out of control, anxiety can be a seriously debilitating part of life. But it isn’t actually supposed to be. Problematic anxiety is the product of one of your body’s natural systems, running amok, and it can actually go on to cause some relatively serious long-term problems, if it’s left unchecked for long enough.
Solutions for issues with anxiety are about as vast and varied as the people who suffer from it, and CBD extract has emerged as a viable new one in the last few years, with more and more studies showing that can potentially help us deal with anxiety to a surprisingly effective degree.
Let’s take a closer look at exactly how CBD can help you deal with anxiety.
For most of us, the word “stress” probably conjures up thoughts of a constant nightmare, an at-times inescapable part of life in the modern world. But anxiety is actually supposed to be a helpful thing. Of course, you’re not supposed to be feeling it before something like going to a party or heading into work on a random Tuesday…but under normal circumstances, the human stress response is actually designed to flood your body with chemicals that will help you think more quickly and clearly, and even move faster if the need arises.
Sometimes, though, anxiety can show up with either an intensity or duration that is disproportionate to the trigger that caused it (ongoing stress, or extreme stress in response to relatively normal situations, in other words). And this is when the real problems start.
Perhaps the worst part about chronic stress is that it doesn’t just limit itself to a worried mind. The stress response, as mentioned, floods your body with chemicals that, if present in your body for too long, can potentially have serious adverse effects. Just one of them essentially involves putting your immune system on high alert, systemic inflammation spreading throughout your body as it works to combat a threat that it perceives, but that isn’t really there. Good stuff, right? As you can see, controlling anxiety has an impact on your body, and your mind, in equal measure.
So how can CBD help us with our anxiety, exactly? The answer, as it turns out, lies in the nervous system.
In the last few decades, the medical community has been learning quite a lot about the nervous system and how it works for us. One of the more interesting things that we’ve found is the endocannabinoid system (or ECS). Its job, in simple terms, is to help your body maintain a sense of internal balance, or homeostasis.
It has domain over quite a few different sets of bodily functions, to help it carry out this task, being able to modulate things like appetite, sleep cycles, inflammation levels, and even emotional affect, in order to make sure everything is lined up properly. Our bodies make cannabinoids that interact with the ECS — think of them as the keys that fit into the ECS’ locks, enabling it to do its thing.
When we supplement our bodies with a bunch of extra cannabinoids (like CBD and THC, which are found in cannabis), it can be thought of almost like busting out a “cheat code” for your nervous system. CBD, in particular, enables you to powerfully tip your body’s internal scales in a more balanced direction, your ECS evening out whatever might be causing you discomfort or ill health, be it rogue inflammation or an out-of-control stress response (or both).
Full disclosure: The medical community is still actually working hard to fully understand the mechanics of how CBD extract actually helps us deal with our anxiety. We know that it does, that much is for certain — we have the studies proving this.
And while we have a pretty good idea as to how CBD interacts with the brain in a way that can help soothe anxiety, it’s very much one of those “further research is needed” situations, with researchers doing everything they can to find out exactly how far CBD can go to help us with our mental health issues.
The short, easy version of the explanation involves CBD and its ability to interact with certain receptors in the body’s nervous system — in particular, the CB1 and the CB2 receptors, along with a few others.
Several of these receptors that CBD interacts with are a part of the human body’s limbic system, which deals most directly with things like emotional affect and memory, helping to modulate these things and regulating cellular interactions in ways that help to tamp down things like the fear response and other potentially debilitating forms of anxiety.
One of the more interesting things about learning how CBD works is developing an understanding of how chemically-based so many of our emotional states really are. Not only does it help to chemically correct anxiety issues, but it also has been shown to help with several different modalities of anxiety, as well. Acute stress is the type you feel before taking a test or having that particularly difficult conversation, while chronic stress is persistent worry (usually over something like money or health issues) — CBD has been shown to help with both.
A Brazilian study from October of 2018 showed that CBD was effective in helping test subjects stay calm just before a simulated public speaking event, while another one from the Journal of Psychopharmacology showed that it was pretty powerful in mitigating the symptoms of social anxiety disorder.
In other words, CBD can help with stress on both the long and short terms, making it a great solution whether you find yourself dealing with a persistent anxiety disorder…or are just heading into a particularly high-stakes job interview.
One of the nicest things about CBD as an effective solution for anxiety and anxiety disorders is that it can bring us actionable relief without the need for any chemical or pharmaceutical intervention. Cannabis advocates have been insisting upon the plant’s many medical benefits for decades now, but the psychoactive component of THC has long been a roadblock for many, and understandably so.
CBD is changing the game in a number of exciting ways, building a bridge towards a more relaxed attitude around cannabis use, while also broadening the understanding around CBD and its various healthy applications.