Anxiety is a common mental health concern that affects millions of people worldwide. People with anxiety who have been searching for alternative treatment options may have come across cannabis-derived products. These products have gained popularity in recent years for their potential to alleviate anxiety symptoms.
There are two main components used in cannabis-derived products: cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Preclinical trials support the use of cannabis-derived products as beneficial for people with anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Currently, there are few clinical trials that have been conducted to support the use of cannabis-derived products for the treatment of anxiety disorders. However, with the legalization of these products in some areas, research is on the rise.
Anxiety is a mental health disorder characterized by persistent worry, fear, and apprehension. Anxiety is experienced differently by everyone, and various types of anxiety disorders exist.
Fear and anxiety aren't necessarily bad things. Our body and brain feel fear and anxiety as an adaptive coping strategy to perceived threats to our survival. However, when anxiety and fear become excessive and persistent, our brains and bodies may interpret most things as a threat. Thus causing our anxiety to become maladaptive.
With anxiety affecting 31% of the adult population, there is a consistent need for treatment and symptom management. Because of this, many people are interested in learning more about how cannabis-derived products might benefit those living with anxiety.
In recent years, cannabis-derived products have been gaining popularity as a possible treatment for anxiety disorders.
Two primary components take the spotlight when discussing cannabis-derived products — cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It is important to understand the distinction between these two ingredients when exploring their potential benefits for anxiety treatment.
Cannabidiol is a derivative of the cannabis plant. It is non-psychoactive, meaning it doesn't produce the "high" associated with cannabis.
CBD is the most common cannabis-derived molecule. While its use for potentially supporting mental health is relatively new, CBD has a history of use as a pharmacological agent in different cultures across the world.
Preclinical and clinical research suggests that CBD has a wide range of therapeutic properties. Studies have looked at CBD's possible use as an:
- Antipsychotic. Medication used to reduce or relieve symptoms of psychosis.
- Analgesic. A drug used for pain relieve or management of pain symptoms.
- Neuroprotective. A mechanism that is aimed at protecting the nervous system from injury and damage.
- Anticonvulsant. To prevent or reduce the severity of epileptic fits or other convulsions.
- Antiemetic. Used to prevent or treat vomiting.
- Anti-inflammation. Reduces inflammation, pain, and/or fever.
- Antarthritic. Drugs used to relieve or prevent arthritic symptoms and pain.
- Antineoplastic. Medications used to treat cancer.
There are many different types of CBD, each with various pros, cons, risks, and benefits. It is important to do research prior to taking any supplement to find the one that best suits and targets the areas of concern.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is also a derivative of the cannabis plant. It is the main psychoactive agent in cannabis and is responsible for its euphoric effects. However, there is very little information about THC's use to treat anxiety disorders.
With the legalization of cannabis in regions
around the world, investigation into its effects on anxiety and mental health
treatment is quickly gaining momentum. However, the legal status of these
products varies depending on location, so it's essential for consumers to familiarize
themselves with local regulations.
How cannabis-derived products work
The human body has an endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is an intricate cell-signaling system that plays an influential role in regulating many critical body functions, including the following:
- Mood regulation
- Emotional processing
- Pain perception
Our bodies naturally produce molecules called endocannabinoids, which feed the ECS. The ECS and endocannabinoids are naturally active in our bodies, even if we do not use cannabis.
Cannabis-derived products contain cannabinoids, which are very similar to endocannabinoids. When used, cannabis-derived products interact with and mirror what should naturally occur in our body with the ECS and endocannabinoids.
While scientific investigations into CBD as a proposed treatment for anxiety are still ongoing, initial findings suggest potential therapeutic benefits. However, it is important to note that more extensive research is needed to understand efficacy and safety.
CBD to treat anxiety: pros and cons
The potential benefits of cannabis-derived products for anxiety are promising. Preclinical trials suggest that CBD has calming properties, which may be beneficial for mental health concerns such as:
- Anxiety disorders
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Another big draw for CBD as a possible treatment for anxiety is the variation in products and methods of use. For example, cannabidiol oil is useful for micro-dosing and its fast efficacy, while gummies are popular due to their convenience and option for adding other ingredients to treat various concerns simultaneously.
Despite these positives, due to the limitations in clinical trials with human subjects, the research still remains sparse. Also, how CDB works to help anxiety and mood regulation isn't yet clear, although researchers believe serotonin plays a significant role.
It is crucial to consider the potential risks associated with cannabis-derived products. Consider the potential for the following side effects before using CBD:
- Changes in appetite
- Dry mouth
- Drowsiness and fatigue
- Temporary cognitive impairment (rare)
It is essential to consult with a healthcare professional before adding cannabis-derived products to an anxiety treatment regimen to ensure safety.
Other anxiety treatment options
Cannabis-derived products are not the only option for anxiety treatment. Traditional therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and counseling, are evidence-based approaches with proven efficacy. Additionally, many people benefit from taking anti-anxiety medications and implementing self-care strategies like exercising, eating well, and having a regular sleep schedule.
Each individual's experience with anxiety is unique, so it's essential to find a personalized treatment plan that works best.
Cannabis-derived products, particularly those containing CBD, have gained attention for their potential to boost mental health. While the scientific evidence supports the potential benefits of cannabis-derived products, more research is needed to understand their optimal usage and long-term effects fully. Remember, mental health treatment is multifaceted, and it's crucial to explore various options to find what works best. Prioritize mental well-being and always seek professional guidance when considering alternative treatment approaches.
- Neurotherapeutics. Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders.
- Journal of the American Pharmacists Association. Use of cannabidiol in anxiety and anxiety-related disorders.
- Permanente Journal. Mechanisms of Action and Pharmacokinetics of Cannabis.