Is your brain home to stress or anxiety? Are you wondering how to keep it away from the imminent sword strike of anxiety or have already been struck but want to heal?
Well, you might answer to this whilst naming the various existing cures for anxiety & stress. Be it Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) like fluoxetine, paroxetine or mild tranquilizers like buspirone, the so very popular names are the various stops on the journey of cure to anxiety via psychotherapeutic or pharmaceutical means which bring with themselves the unwanted guests of downhill side-effects. However, the cure can be achieved by using a herbal hand that is gradually gaining popularity- CBD or Cannabidiol.
What is CBD?
As the name indicates, cannabidiol is a derivative of the cannabis plant & industrial hemp. Although, cannabis is home to around 104 different derivatives, CBD & THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) have been extremely popular. While the latter infuses the consumer with a sense of ‘highness’ & intoxication, the former just does its work in silence while keeping away from the “HIGH-way.” This CBD, however, given the lineage, is still illegal in most parts of the world apart from a few countries where it is legal for either medicinal or both medicinal & industrial purposes. While the UK has legalized it of late, the US has legalized it under the limits of certain on-paper boundaries which make it accessible, but, under limits. The silver lining is the fact that CBD can be derived from INDUSTRIAL HEMP too which is legal in most countries where cannabis cultivation for good has been accepted. Industrial Hemp is used in paper, textiles, biodegradable plastics, construction, health food, and fuel apart from being an abode to CBD.
This CBD is home to various remedies of which some have been proven while some are still awaiting confirmation whilst being headed towards the positive curve. It is usually available as supplements, salves & oil. CBD is believed to catalyze or directly induce the cure of acne, epilepsy, sclerosis, pain relief, etc. & hence is cementing its space not just in the medical jargons but also amidst the classes & the masses.
The ANXIOUS Attack
It is a known fact that 1 in 4 Americans suffers from an anxiety disorder in their lifetime. Anxiety is a feeling of keeping you anxious & stressful always where the feeling of unpreparedness, over-consciousness & imminent danger dwell in plenty in your brain. This condition often leads to release of the stress hormone – cortisol that gets the body into a ‘fight or flight’ situation. Long-term existence of this messes up the brain big time with direct impact on the brain’s chemistry & structure making zones in the brain either hyperactive or pushing them towards atrophy along with changing the levels of neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine & endocannabinoids) & their receptors. The major consequences of the increase in stress hormones are as below:
- Heart disease
- Digestive problems
- Weakened immune system
- Weight gain
- Muscular tension
- Endocannabinoid imbalance
Dropping the anchor on Anxiety
Coming straight to the point, CBD is considered to interact with the receptors within the human body’s Endocannabinoid System (ECS) which is involved in maintaining homeostasis in many physiological functions such as sleep, pain, memory, digestion & immune functions.
Various researches & studies have pointed out in the direction of positivity when it comes to the effect of CBD in helping anxiety. A 2011 study observed that when people with generalized Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) were given 600mg of CBD oil prior to a public speaking test, as opposed to a placebo, the former group experienced significantly lesser anxiety, difficulty & discomfort during their speech.
With more than 65 target points throughout the body, it becomes a bit challenging to pinpoint the sources of its extensive therapeutic properties. Studies of late have suggested that CBD counters anxiety by stimulating neurotransmitter systems & neural regeneration. Here’s the evidence:
Although it is considered to be ‘happy hormone’, the role of this neurotransmitter is extremely complex. While low levels of serotonin lead to depression (& that’s how the happy hormone can turn things really serious), a decrease in levels of it can throw the individual into anxiety. Where serotonin is & what it binds to.determines the course of its effects & though it has a minimum of 14 different receptors, CBD specifically binds to 5-HT1A (considered to have the strongest role in anxiety disorders). Buspirone – the anti-anxiety drug binds substantially to this receptor as concluded in the anti-anxiety experiment on rats exposed to stressful stimuli.
The human body is a natural producer of cannabinoids which are used throughout our body & brain in the endocannabinoid system. Reiterating the previous words, the endocannabinoid system or the ECS has numerous roles to play including those of maintaining homeostasis in the various physiological functions like sleep, pain, memory, digestion & immune functions. To make it simple & short, ECS helps to keep our bodily functions balanced. Chronic stress may deregulate this system thus derailing the body’s physiological undertakings. CBD is considered to help restore the balance of the endocannabinoid system by interacting with the ions, receptors, enzymes in it & preventing overstimulation of the CB1 receptors, thus boosting the body’s production of endocannabinoids. As studies estimate, CBD activates the HT1A receptor which is a target for anti-depressant & anti-anxiety drugs.
Rodent experiments have shown that CBD curbs OCD & other anxious behaviors by acting on the endocannabinoid system, which is highly involved in processing and forgetting our fears — vital for extinction learning.
- Neural Regeneration:
Chronic stress is dangerous. It keeps the brain at the edge always by reminding it repeatedly & working hard to not make it forget the occurrence so that more stress could be avoided in the future. However, that’s not what we need as we don’t run into dangers every day & every time. This gives it the ability to shrink the brain in size whilst damaging the neurons. But, certain areas of the brain remain capable of regeneration.
CBD oil helps in hippocampal neurogenesis, i.e. neural regeneration in the hippocampus (region of the brain associated with cognition & memory). CBD oil helps to build new connections by inducing the growth of new neurons thus growing our brain & achieving neural regeneration. This means that CBD could help counterbalance the brain damage caused by chronic stress.
Proving & Concluding
Given the fact that anxiety disorders impact 18% of the American population annually, CBD oil is being looked up to as a good remedy for anxiety. Though there are individual claims shining brightly on the treatment of anxiety using CBD oil, there are lab tests as well that fortify its position as a defender against anxiety, stress & other disorders associated with it. There have been various experiments on rodents since human experiments come with a long list of legal & costing complications. However, two conditions narrated ahead have shown similar responses in both humans & rodents.
- Less Anxiety Vs Stress
The subjects’ anxiety levels were studied in response to stress around them. In one example, a rodent placed in boa constrictor after a little dose of CBD showed how it looked for alternatives around for a safe place to hide instead of panicking. In a similar situation for humans, where public speaking was the boa constrictor, people with doses of CBD showed more confidence & fluent speaking as compared to a placebo group suffering from SAD.
- Extinction Learning
For people suffering from Post Traumatic Anxiety Disorder or PTSD, CBD oil has proven extremely beneficial especially in case of Extinction Learning. Here, subjects are exposed to some harmless triggers which are similar to the painful triggers & trained to face it. The duration the subjects take to forget the triggers is what is taken into note here.
Rodents freeze when expecting an electric shock & human subjects too anticipated an electric shock based on a visual cue. It was found that not only immediate impact was seen as of not freezing up while expecting when dosed with CBD but this effect persisted also after 2 days (when CBD effect had worn off).
These evidences, studies & explanations from various researches & studies point towards the impactful role of CBD oil on anxiety, needless to mention the reason why more & more people including an array of medical experts & research scholars are taking it up as a possible cure that doesn’t arrive partnered with the heavy side-effects that come from normal anxiolytics. If stress & anxiety have been associated with your brain for long, the process of normalizing will seek patience. Adopting a holistic approach to the treatment of anxiety by resorting to yoga & meditation as such a process will help your mind regenerate & rise up from the clutches of anxiety sooner. However, it is always advisable to consult a physician when resorting to CBD oil especially when the individual is already on prescription medications. The reason being certain cases where CBD oil has been seen to promote certain side-effects which include drowsiness, loss of appetite, dry mouth, nausea, etc. It is hence advisable to not be a doctor or physician & consult one & proceeding only with proper guidance when switching to this line of treatment involving CBD oil.