Anxiety - very few of us are untouched by it these days in some shape or form. While in the US 20% of the population have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, for many it can be something more fleeting: worrying a little too much about a job interview, getting nervous before an exam or feeling uncomfortable while at a party full of strangers.
These are common experiences for most of us, the problem starts when they begin to dominate our lives or stop us from trying new experiences.
Anxiety and me
For some time now I have been somewhere on the anxiety spectrum. Not enough to get a big fat label slapped on me, but in sufficient quantity to come out in a cold sweat when meeting new people, or attending big occasions like weddings and family reunions. So as someone writing about medical cannabis, in particular CBD, it certainly pricked my attention when I came across the various reports suggesting the non-psychoactive cannabinoid might be an effective treatment for anxiety symptoms.
A selection of our products
Does CBD reduce anxiety - what does science say?
As ever in the world of cannabinoid science, clinical trials are relatively few on the ground. But the ones that have taken place point towards CBD as being effective particularly for social anxiety suffers.
Why? Well, the main reason appears to be because CBD is a 5HT1-A partial agonist - which in layman’s terms means it binds to the receptor site, only stimulating it partially - but scientists suggest it does so just enough to elicit an anti-anxiety effect. The 5HT1-A is a serotonin receptor and is found throughout the brain and in high densities in the cerebral cortex, hippocampus, and amygdala – all heavily involved in the mood and anxiety disorders.
Studies also suggest CBD’s ability to promote hippocampal neurogenesis (the part of the brain responsible for memory, emotion and the autonomic nervous system), could also explain why anxiety is reduced.
So with scientific research showing ever greater promise for CBD’s anti-anxiety potential, here are my top 5 anxious moments that have been helped by CBD.
Going on a date
Boy oh boy does going on a first date bring out the anxiety in me. Will I make a good impression? Will I even be able to string a sentence together? Will they notice that I’m practically having a meltdown? By the time I get there my deep, abdominal breathing has turned into hyperventilation and it feels like the date has ended before it’s begun. Of late before heading out the door, I’ve had a tiny amount of CBD extract to calm my nerves. So far, it’s definitely mellowed me out and allowed me the space to be myself, rather than feeling tied up in a knot of nervous tension.
Please note that CBD can heighten the effect of alcohol so it is unwise to mix the two.
2. In the midst of an anxiety meltdown
Sometimes my anxiety meltdowns are imagined in a kind of ‘oh no, what if I get anxious’ kind of way. But other times they are as real as I am sitting here writing this article. Which makes actually interacting in a normal way or getting any work done practically impossible, as all I can think about is how anxious I'm feeling. In these instances, some 20% raw hemp extract seems to do the trick. Not only does it seem to calm the raging beast, but it also helps me regain my concentration and focus. So it’s like, “Hello world, I’m back in the room”.
3. Before an interview
Again, for someone who tends on the socially anxious side of things, situations like job interviews promise the ultimate nightmare: outright rejection for not being up to scratch. Cue worrying thoughts, heart racing, feeling like I can’t get my words out. For moments like these, CBD drops come in handy. Just a quick trip to the bathroom while I’m waiting to be seen, a few drops under the tongue, and a few moments later, my nervous system seems to have wound down a few notches, enough to get the job done (and hopefully land one at the same time).
4. Catching a plane
I don’t have an outright flying phobia, but it’s not my favourite thing to do in the world. If I feel a bout of fear coming on mid flight, popping some CBD chewing gum in my mouth calms me down without having to turn to the duty free.
5. Doing an exam
I never used to get nervous in exams, must be the joys of being a mature learner. But the simple truth is that anxiety and performance are diametrically opposed. In fact generally one precludes the other. There’s a kind of brain fog that descends in the midst of anxiety, the simplest of information can be impossible to recall. In these instances CBD is a lifesaver, because it can actually help focus the mind and seems to bring greater clarity.
However, these are just my experiences and are most definitely not any form of medical advice. If you suffer from anxiety, it is always best to visit your doctor or a mental health professional, and no amount of CBD will make up for the important work that comes from therapy.
But if you do take CBD for anxiety, I’d really love to know about what difference it has made and what strengths or delivery methods you find most helpful. I personally have never tried vaping, so I’d particularly love to hear from anyone who swears by a quick vape to calm the anxious waters.