Cannabidiol – more commonly known as CBD – has a number of health benefits. Along with treating pain, epilepsy and acne, several studies have found that CBD oil is helpful for easing symptoms of anxiety.
But is CBD oil something anxiety sufferers should consider over traditional treatments? We speak to Dr Mark Ware, Chief Medical Officer at Canopy Growth about cannabidiol and generalised anxiety disorder.
Is CBD oil effective for anxiety?
CBD has proven to be an effective natural remedy for anxiety sufferers, thanks to the way it interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system.
Studies generally support the position that CBD reduces anxiety behaviour
‘There is intriguing preclinical and some clinical data supporting the use of cannabidiol (CBD) as an effective treatment for the management of anxiety disorders,’ says Dr Ware. ‘There are more than 30 preclinical studies that investigate the anxiolytic [anxiety-reducing] properties of CBD. These studies generally support the position that CBD has an effect on reducing anxiety behaviour.’
In 2011 a study also found that when people with generalised social anxiety disorder were given 600mg of CBD oil prior to a public speaking test, as opposed to a placebo, they experienced significantly less anxiety, difficulty and discomfort during their speech.
How does CBD oil ease anxiety?
CBD is thought to interact with the receptors within what is called our endocannabinoid system (ECS). ‘The ECS is involved in maintaining homeostasis in many physiological functions, including sleep, pain, memory, digestion and immune functions,’ says Dr Ware.
In other words, this system is what helps us keep our bodily functions balanced. When you consume CBD, it affects the activity of ion channels, receptors, and enzymes within the ECS.
‘While it is not yet clear how CBD exerts its anxiolytic effect,’ says Dr Ware, ‘one possible target is its activation of the 5-HT1A receptor. This receptor is a target for a variety of antidepressant and anti-anxiety drugs.’
This means that CBD could have a similar effect to anxiety medications, but minus the negative side-effects.