Worry is part and parcel of life, but when it becomes all-consuming, it can quickly turn into persistent feelings of panic and anxiety, otherwise known as Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD). For those grappling with GAD, being in a constant state of worry can have far-reaching emotional consequences, but equally damaging is the toll it takes on your physical wellbeing, disrupting everything from your sleep to your appetite.
While there are quick-acting anti-anxiety medications available such as Xanax (Alprazolam), these can be highly addictive and don’t offer a long-term solution. Long-range medications like Prozac are also commonly prescribed but they don’t always work and come with unpleasant side-effects ranging from nausea and dizziness to insomnia. So what’s the alternative? For those whose experience with mainstream medications has yielded no results, cannabidiol (CBD) is showing promise as a natural remedy worth adding to your treatment toolkit.
Research on CBD as a therapeutic treatment is still in its infancy, but there is growing anecdotal and scientific evidence pointing to it as an effective natural anti-anxiety. One study* conducted in 2019 examined the effects of CBD on 47 outpatients at a mental health clinic in Colorado, USA. The majority of patients received 25mg of CBD daily and after the first month a staggering 79.2% reported an improvement in their anxiety scores. While more clinical trials in humans are needed to further prove CBD’s anti-anxiety capabilities, there are a number of animal studies that show the potential of CBD to not only improve the behavioural signs of anxiety, but to also improve the physiological symptoms such as increased heart rate.
The power of this plant-based medicine lies in its ability to interact with the endocannabinoid system, which is responsible for maintaining balance in the body and is believed to regulate anxiety and fear-based responses. Chronic stress, which can trigger anxiety, can throw the endocannabinoid system off kilter. CBD helps to keep the endocannabinoid system functioning optimally by interacting with certain receptors in the nervous system, which in turn helps to stabilise everything from your hormones to your mood. CBD has also been shown to elevate levels of serotonin, often referred to as ‘the happy chemical’ because of its role in regulating your mood.
Equally important, CBD is also considered an effective sleep aid. For those suffering from GAD, an overactive mind can make it difficult to fall (and stay) asleep. Unlike sedatives, CBD helps to promote relaxation naturally, encouraging better sleep without leaving you feeling drowsy the next morning.
As with any medication, dosing is key when it comes to CBD’s efficacy in treating your anxiety. Consider your weight, your level of anxiety and the concentration of CBD in the product you choose, be it an oil, a vape or an edible when determining the right dosage for you. A general rule of thumb is to start on a lower dose and build up from there.