Right now, it’s estimated 264 million people worldwide have some kind of anxiety disorder, with approximately 40 million of them residing in the United States.
Due to their complex and often individualized nature, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to treating anxiety disorders. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT is often combined with anti-anxiety drugs like SSRI antidepressants or benzodiazepines, known as tranquilizers, like Xanax and Ativan for a more immediate calming effect. While they may lull patients into a state of anxiety-free calm, taken long term they can result in addiction.
Life is filled with external stressors — pollution, poor sleep, that argument with your boss, the 24/7 news reports about the millions of people dying worldwide from the coronavirus. Thankfully, the (Endocannabinoid System) ECS works as a buffer to ensure our organisms don’t develop some kind of illness as a result. It also plays a crucial role in regulating fear, anxiety and how we cope with stress.
Activating CB1 receptors in the brain and central nervous system has been found to calm feelings of anxiety, which explains why consuming cannabis tends to chill people out.
The more you smoke Marijuana, the more anxious you may feel, as higher doses of THC, the main psychoactive compound in cannabis, can actually be anxiety inducing.
Enhanced signaling between CB1 receptors and the endocannabinoid anandamide in the amygdala, an area of the brain key to processing fear, has been shown to help mice forget frightening experiences.
That’s something of clinical interest for the treatment of anxiety disorders where frightening events of the past become indelibly marked in a patient’s memory, fueling future feelings of anxiety.
Chronic stress itself can eventually impair our endocannabinoid system. Prolonged exposure to stress downregulates CB1 receptor signaling in brain regions involved in emotional processing.
Chronic stress also increases levels of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), the enzyme that breaks anandamide down in the body, resulting in lower concentrations of the feel-good endocannabinoid.
With weakened endocannabinoid signaling, we are more vulnerable to developing anxiety and depression. Indeed, one study showed a clear inverse relationship between anandamide levels and anxiety severity in women with major depression;
So, in basic terms, the more anandamide deficient we are, the more anxious we may become.
Cannabidiol (CBD), the non-intoxicating compound found in cannabis, has been shown to inhibit anandamide reuptake and delay its metabolism by FAAH. Several studies confirm that administering CBD enhances CB1 signaling, in turn promoting the creation of new neurons in the hippocampus, which scientists believe further contributes towards the compound’s anxiolytic effect.
However, CBD’s anti-anxiety action extends beyond increasing endocannabinoid signaling. Animal studies show how CBD interacts with serotonin 5-HT1A receptors in the brain, which are tried and tested targets for anti-anxiety medication.
While more still remains to be discovered about the mechanisms behind CBD’s anxiolytic effect, in certain US states and countries where medicinal use of cannabis is legal, doctors are treating their patients with CBD-rich cannabis strains for anxiety disorders.
Right now, a number of clinical trials to study the effectiveness of CBD for anxiety are in the process of recruiting, including one using 25mg of full spectrum CBD soft gel capsules over a period of twelve weeks; and a phase II clinical trial evaluating the efficacy of CBD for social anxiety, which will also measure changes in endocannabinoid levels.
In the meantime, in a bid to minimize any damage to our endocannabinoid system caused by daily living stressors and coronavirus stress which may make us more vulnerable to anxiety disorders now and in the future, using a High-Quality Broad-Spectrum CBD daily is a smart addition to our daily self-care routine.
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