As the pandemic ensues and anxiety, depression and sleep disorders increase around the world, many people are looking for a non-addictive, non-toxic addition to their lives – and with such a wide range of products getting in on the CBD trend, there’s no shortage of options out there.
While 2020 was tough for many businesses, the wellness industry continued to boom, as an anxious population sought out new ways to relax and feel good.
As part of this, interest in CBD products also continued to soar – unsurprisingly, since the product is well known for alleviating stress and insomnia.
With another lockdown announced (in the UK at least) and health and wellness once more at the forefront of people’s minds, CBD is once again piquing the public’s interest – so what’s in the pipeline for 2021?
You are what you eat
Edibles look set to continue to be big news, as consumers seek out drinks and snacks with an added health benefit.
With a whole host of options available – from soft drinks and teabags to gummies and chocolate – CBD has most definitely moved from a specialist product to a readily-available ingredient in its own right.
As the association with smoking grows ever weaker, it’s also worth noting that, from March 2021, CBD edibles must be classified as novel foods to be sold in the UK.
Time for bed
Meanwhile, as well as ingesting CBD to support sleep – something many people are struggling with under the stress of a global pandemic – bedsheets and mattresses infused with the herb could be the next big thing.
As Gerry Borreggine, CEO of Therapedic – one of the biggest names in the industry to develop a line of CBD products – said: “Currently, CBD is an unregulated supplement, but studies have been published claiming it has been clinically proven to induce calmness and has been used in treating insomnia. Who wouldn’t want that in a mattress?”
While, in the past, many people who reach for a glass of wine or a G&T to unwind at the end of the day, a new, more mindful generation is looking for something more wholesome.
Sales of low and no-alcohol beer, spirits, cider and wine are up 31.2% according to The Grocer – and one of the key ingredients driving the trend is CBD.
Because no-alcohol is not enough for today’s drinkers – they want added benefits too, and CBD, with its relaxing and calming properties, fits the bill perfectly.
Stay at home
Of course, no discussion of wellness would be complete without the obligatory scented candle – and here cannabis is showing its influence too.
With candles featuring blends of essential oils to support rest and relaxation, and cannabis oils being sold for the same purpose, it’s a match made in heaven.
However, CBD candles won’t necessarily fill your home with the telltale sign from your youth; rather, cannabis essential oil will be mixed with a number of other ingredients and fragrances to provide that famous mood-lifting effect.
While how and why it’s consumed continues to vary greatly, it’s clear that CBD’s popularity shows no sign of abating.
CBD and anxiety: What the research says
With more and more people reporting the use of CBD to ease stress and anxiety in these uncertain times, is the research there to back it up?
With a global pandemic raging, and many of us cut off from our friends and loved ones, it is no surprise that levels of anxiety and stress are at a high right now.
With many of our traditional stress-relieving activities – going to the gym, seeing a friend, travelling – out of bounds, and concern mounting about a rise in alcohol use, people are increasingly looking for alternative ways to relax.
A number of recent developments have once again highlighted the value of CBD in treating anxiety – so much so that a Canadian firm is developing a prescription drug based on the compound.
EmpowerPharm Inc is currently developing a unique prescription drug containing synthetic CBD as the active pharmaceutical ingredient to treat anxiety.
Pending the results of clinical research, it is thought the drug may help the thousands of Canadians who suffer from anxiety, as the firm has identified a growing need for innovative therapies as alternative treatments to avoid the addictive prescription products currently prescribed.
Meanwhile, CBD is also growing in popularity among those using it on a more recreational basis; almost half of UK users have increased their consumption since the pandemic.
A recent poll has found that more than a third (33 per cent) of Britons have tried CBD products, while 42 per cent have increased their usage since the outbreak of Covid-19, with anxiety the most common reason for using them.
While CBD has long had a reputation for promoting relaxation, research is still ongoing.
A landmark study in the US – billed as the first of its kind – was launched in October last year to investigate CBD’s use as a formal anxiety treatment.
The Cannabinoid Anxiety Relief Education Study is targeting millions of CBD and cannabis users across the US to assess the potential role of cannabinoids in reducing anxiety and other co-morbid conditions, such as insomnia and depression.
Such large-scale research is especially relevant given high Covid-19-caused anxiety levels, with many state and local governments deeming cannabis businesses “essential” and thus able to remain open during restrictions.
However, there are concerns that, while CBD can certainly help to relieve anxiety in the short-term, it is nothing more than a ‘sticking plaster’ solution.
Studies conducted by a team at Washington State University, led by phycology professor Dr Carrie Cuttler, analysed data from hundreds of people who recorded their symptoms before and after cannabis consumption.
Findings showed that in people who self-reported as having PTSD, cannabis reduced the severity of intrusive thoughts by about 62 per cent; for irritability it was 67 per cent and anxiety by 57 per cent.
However, researchers also found that there is no indication that cannabis reduced symptoms in the long-term.
Dr Cuttler cautioned: “We see a general theme that immediately after using cannabis most of the symptoms of these conditions are reduced by just over 50 percent.
“The bottom line is that it can work as an effective mask of the symptoms temporarily but it’s not benefiting the individuals in the long term.”
Such research points to the fact that, whole CBD may not be a solution for long-term anxiety, it is a useful took for treating shorter spells of stress – such as those caused by the pandemic.
The best ways to take CBD for a good night’s sleep
More than a third of UK adults don’t get the recommended amount of sleep (and that was before the pandemic) but many have found CBD helps them drift off.
According to the sleep council, 38 per cent of the UK recommend a comfortable bed as their top sleep tip, but amongst other answers such as switching off gadgets, avoiding alcohol and caffeine and using meditation or mindfulness, was there an option missing?
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults should get between seven and nine hours sleep per night. However, according to a study from The Guardian, 35 percent of adults in the UK sleep for fewer than the minimum seven hours.
As a solution used by people across the world to treat depression, anxiety and chronic pain, CBD is now becoming increasingly popular as a treatment for insomnia and other sleep-related issues.
While many have turned to herbal and pharmaceutical remedies to relieve restless and disturbed sleep – as well as no sleep at all – the effect of cannabis on sleeping patterns remains an underdeveloped area of research however it is gaining momentum.
One study from 2019, showed that cortisol levels reduced significantly in participants who took between 300 and 600 mg of CBD oil.
Another 2019 study of 103 participants with anxiety or poor sleep found that a higher dose was needed to improve their ability to fall and stay asleep. After a month on a 25mg dosage of CBD oil, 66.7 percent of patients said their sleep had improved.
It still remains unclear if CBD has a direct impact on sleeping patterns, however, its ability to reduce anxiety and pain, which are all common causes of insomnia, is more widely researched and accepted amongst the academic community.
There are a variety of ways CBD can be taken to aid sleep, with an array of products to choose from.
Oils and tinctures, pills, capsules and edibles such as gummies are often considered a direct route and offer a range of strengths and tastes, however vaping is considered to be the method that gets the CBD into your system faster – albeit posing more general respiratory risks.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) – which is responsible for regulating CBD as a novel food – recommends that healthy adults take no more than 70mg a day, unless under medical direction. This equates to roughly 28 drops of five percent CBD. This guidance is based on recent findings by the UK government’s Committee on Toxicity (COT).
Each individual may also have different CBD sensitivity, impacted by factors such as weight, height and metabolism speed. In tandem, the way people take CBD will be different, for example some may take CBD multiple times throughout the day and others just once in the evening.
Suffering from restless or disturbed sleep and insomnia is not something that can be cured quickly or with one solution, especially as this may be caused by an array of factors.
Ensuring caffeine and alcohol are avoided, creating a dark space, exercising regularly and keeping a sleep diary will all help to ensure sleep comes easier and stays longer.
Five ways CBD can help you cope with anxiety
With at least half of the population experiencing some anxiety since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s hardly surprising sales of CBD have soared. This is what the research says.
Anxiety is one of the most common mental health disorders, with an estimated four per cent of the population suffering from some form of the condition.
With global issues such as the Covid-19 pandemic causing the number of people with anxiety to continue to rise, many are left searching for solutions – so, could CBD be the key to alleviating symptoms?
Although more research is needed in the area, a 2019 Gallup poll found that 37 per cent of CBD users take the supplement to relieve anxiety. Here are five ways it could help…
While low serotonin levels are generally linked with depression, there is evidence to show it could also be a cause of anxiety. In conventional mental health care, cases of low serotonin are treated with a category of anti-depressant medications known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, such as fluoxetine (Prozac).
However, CBD may have the potential to change serotonin signals in the body through the interaction with CB1, a receptor found in the central nervous system, meaning it can ‘boost’ your overall mood by changing the way your body reacts to serotonin.
Anxiety and trouble sleeping have been linked for years, but recent studies have found that CBD could be a solution to both issues.
Research published in 2019 looked at whether CBD could improve sleep and reduce anxiety. The study involved 72 subjects experiencing anxiety and/or poor sleep. In the first month, 79.2 per cent of patients reported lower anxiety levels and 66.7 per cent reported better sleep.
While research into this area is still ongoing, preliminary studies from the National Institute on Drug Abuse suggest that CBD has been shown to reduce stress in animals such as rates.
Study subjects were observed as having lower behavioural signs of anxiety, and physiological symptoms of anxiety, such as increased heart rate, also improved.
Help with relaxation
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis and causes the sensation of getting “high” that’s often associated with marijuana. CBD, however, will not get you high, but may offer similar feelings when it comes to relaxation.
While THC activates CB1 receptors that are associated with euphoria, CBD is a CB1 antagonist and will block or modulate THC’s intoxicating effects. This has led many to believe that CBD is a good way to decrease the negative side effects of THC, such as anxiety, and help you relax and de-stress without feeling high.
Improve quality of life
In a 2020 study, researchers evaluated CBD’s effects in 397 adults living in New Zealand, with study participants receiving medical CBD prescriptions for a variety of ailments, including mental health symptoms.
All groups reported improvements in their overall quality of life after 3 weeks of CBD treatment. The individuals who received CBD treatment for anxiety or depression reportedly experienced improvements in their ability to perform daily functions and reduce pain and anxiety or depression symptoms.
Around 70 per cent of study participants reported some level of satisfaction with CBD treatment, ranging from good to excellent.
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