CANNABIS CULTURE – Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound in cannabis plants that may help reduce anxiety with few or no side effects. CBD oil is a product made from cannabidiol, a chemical present in cannabis plants, otherwise known as marijuana. Cannabis is a genus of flowering plant in the family Cannabaceae.
CBD oil comes from the same type of plant as recreational and medical marijuana, but the chemicals in CBD oil do not affect the human body in the same way as other cannabinoids. Recreational and medical marijuana produce a pleasant euphoria, while CBD oil provides other health benefits. Research into the therapeutic effects of CBD oil is still in its infancy, but mounting evidence suggests it provides relief from anxiety for some people.
The cannabidiol in CBD oil is a type of cannabinoid, which are compounds found only in cannabis plants. There are at least 80 active cannabinoids in cannabis. These cannabinoids interact with the body to cause various effects. Cannabinoids interact with the body by binding to special receptors in the nervous system. The binding action is somewhat like a boat pulling into a slip at a dock – once one boat is in a slip, no other boat can enter.
Many compounds bind to specific receptors in the nervous system. Compounds from opioid painkillers bind to opioid receptors, for example, while cannabinoids bind to cannabinoid receptors. Binding to a receptor causes a specific action in the body.
Each cannabinoid causes different effects within the body. Some cannabinoids cause a pleasant euphoric feeling, commonly known as a “high.” Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the cannabinoid primarily associated with the high people feel after consuming marijuana. THC works by docking to cannabinoid receptors to trigger the production of anandamide.
When cannabinoids bind to cannabinoid receptors, the binding action stimulates the release of anandamide. Anandamide is a chemical that occurs naturally in the body. Anandamide and cannabinoid receptors are part of the body’s endocannabinoid system, which regulates the secretion of hormones relating to reproduction and stress. Many refer to anandamide as the “bliss molecule” because of its ability to cause relaxation.
Other cannabinoids produce therapeutic actions without binding to the cannabinoid receptors. The cannabidiol in CBD oil is one such cannabinoid. Rather than binding to cannabinoid receptors, CBD prevents the body from absorbing excess anandamide, thereby keeping levels of the bliss molecule high enough to alleviate anxiety.
Research Supports the Use of CBD Oil for Anxiety
For many years, proponents have argued the health benefits of cannabidiol, suggesting the extract could do everything from slowing the growth of cancer to improving mental health. Federal legal restraints had prevented scientists from investigating these claims, but many states now embrace the use of medical marijuana and its extracts, including CBD oil.
CBD oil is edible and easy to use. Consumers may use CBD oil as cooking oil, adding it to food, or putting a few drops on their tongue. CBD is not appropriate for smoking, and there is currently no evidence that it provides benefits when used as aromatherapy.
How CBD Oil Affects Anxiety
For centuries, people have used cannabis for relaxation. Its ability to ease tension makes cannabis a popular alternative treatment for anxiety. Much of the research on cannabinoids focuses on THC rather than CBD oil. The results from some of these studies suggest that anxiety increases the chances of recreational marijuana use or that using marijuana can make the consumer more vulnerable to anxiety.
There is an increasing amount of research into the benefits of medical marijuana, which often contains very high levels of THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids. CBD is an entirely different cannabinoid than the THC in medical marijuana, however, so people interested in managing anxiety should focus on research pertaining specifically to CBD.
As states continue to pass laws legalizing medical marijuana, research into the health benefits of medical marijuana will continue to increase. While there are not as many studies into the beneficial effects of CBD oil, researchers are beginning to investigate the CBD for its use as a therapeutic drug. Researchers are now investigating the potential for using CBD oil as an anxiolytic, which is a type of drug used to treat anxiety.
A 2010 small-scale study found that cannabidiol could reduce symptoms in people with social anxiety disorder. The researchers in that study used functional neuroimaging equipment to examine and measure blood flow to the parts of the brain associated with stress. They found that CBD made the participants feel better and changed the way their brains responded to anxiety.
Many other studies support the use of CBD oil for anxiety, including a 2011 study published in Neuropsychopharmacology that found that CBD reduces anxiety associated with public speaking. A 2014 study appearing in CNS & Neurological Disorders – Drug Targets found CBD oil had anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects in lab animals. A 2015 study published in Neurotherapeutics found CBD oil is a promising treatment for several forms of anxiety.
The results of these studies show that CBD oil holds promise as a safe, effective treatment for anxiety. This is great news for millions of Americans who want relief from anxiety without the groggy “high” feeling associated with marijuana consumption.