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CBD and anxiety: What the research says

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A number of studies suggest CBD could be useful for managing symptoms of anxiety

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.

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Four ways to practice self-care with CBD

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Adding CBD to your self-care routine is a natural alternative to help you relax

Incorporating CBD into your daily routine could be the ultimate act of self-care.

If there’s one thing we could all do with right now, it’s a little self-care

The Covid-19 pandemic has been hard for everyone, and whether you’ve been furloughed, are homeschooling or simply trying to get through each day, we should all take some time out for ourselves.

There are plenty of ways CBD can help you relax, from a healthy alternative to an evening drink to part of your skincare routine – but whichever you choose, you deserve it.

 

Take a bath

There’s nothing like a long soak in the tub to let your physical and mental stresses fade away and, for that added relaxation, why not try adding some CBD bath salts or bombs in place of your usual bubbles?

CBD bath products are great way to absorb the compound, as the warm water opens pores, allowing it to be absorbed into the system faster.

It can also be an easier way to benefit from the famous calming properties than drinks or edibles, which may still have the earthy, natural taste that CBD is known for.

Skin deep

After your bath, what could be more pampering than a mini facial? There are plenty of skincare products out there containing CBD, and while it may not be in concentrations hefty enough to have any medicinal benefits, it’s still jam-packed with anti-inflammatory properties.

That means it’s a great choice for dry, inflamed skin, as well having proven acne-fighting benefits thanks to the way it reduces the production of sebum (an oily, waxy substance produced by your body’s sebaceous glands) in the skin.

Scent of relaxation

Recreate that spa feeling at home with a fragranced candle; not only does the soft light make a welcome change from the harsh glare of your laptop or phone, but you can choose one with an anxiety-busting scent too.

CBD candles are another gentle introduction the world of cannabis, perfect for those who are reluctant to try edibles or drinks. Combined with other fragrances such as relaxing lavender or soothing sandalwood, they’re the perfect way to wind down at the end of the day.

A good night

It’s not called beauty sleep for nothing, and a good night’s rest is the ultimate in self-care. Your body needs sleep to rejuvenate and replenish from head to toe, and a full eight hours with do wonders for both your mind and your skin.

However, now, more than ever, a restful night is nothing more than a pipe dream for many. With the stresses of daily life, combined with the anxiety caused by living through a pandemic, its not surprising that many people need a little help to drift off.

While the effect of CBD on sleep remains an underdeveloped area of research, there is growing interest out there as we search for natural alternatives to potentially addictive sleep aids such as diazepam (Valium) and zolpidem.

A review from 2017 found that preliminary research into CBD discovered that it “may have therapeutic potential for the treatment of insomnia” and “may hold promise for REM sleep behaviour disorder and excessive daytime sleepiness”.

Self-care is set to be big news in 2021 as we all take time for ourselves; will CBD be an important element?

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Mental health

Can CBD help you lower your alcohol intake?

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CBD can bring a natural alternative to the stress-relief effects of alcohol

Thanks to long days working from home and home schooling stresses, many of us have upped our alcohol intake during the Covid-19 pandemic – can CBD help us put down the bottle?

The Covid 19 pandemic has caused a lot of people to change their habits, and not always for the better.

Research has shown that more than a fifth of people admitted drinking more alcohol than usual during lockdown, rising to two fifths of parents and those on furlough.

And while a glass of wine at the end of the day is seen by many as a small treat, it’s not a harmless hobby; even moderate alcohol consumption – around seven to 14 drinks per week – is thought to be associated with a heightened risk of cardiovascular disease.

Those looking for a way to relax at the end of the day might want to consider the ever-increasing range of CBD drinks, which offer the same calming effects without any of the side effects.

In fact, they’d be in good company; earlier this year, CBD drinks brand TRIP made the headlines when it was revealed that its products were flying off the shelves at the Queen’s farm shop.

The Windsor Farm Shop sells goods from the Royal Estates, but, according to reports, it also recently enjoyed huge demand for TRIP before selling out completely.

Each can, which is infused with 15mg of CBD, has also been popular at the Queen’s Tennis Club in Kensington, alongside stockists such as Selfridges, Liberty, Fenwick, Planet Organic, Harvey Nichols and Daylesford Farm.

Co-founder Olivia Ferdi, a Cambridge-educated lawyer who left her career to launch TRIP, said: “We’re thrilled so many customers are finding much needed calm with TRIP, especially in these particularly tricky times.

“Lockdown has been very tough and it’s so important to unwind in stressful moments.”

Meanwhile Craig Hutchison, founder of Ceder’s non-alcoholic gin and CBD Botanical Spirit, Maria and Craig’s, says booze-free options are becoming more popular with both those who are teetotal and those who want to cut down on alcohol.

“We’re seeing popularity increasing across all demographics and age groups,” he said.

“A lot of people are resorting to alcohol and self-medicating [during the pandemic] and it’s up to each individual to decide when they should or shouldn’t drink alcohol, but I would say that when you’re stressed and anxious, it’s not always the way to go.”

While there have been calls to regulate CBD in the same way as alcohol, the two are not comparable, not least when it comes to the harms associated with them.

Alcohol misuse is connected with domestic violence, sexual assault, liver toxicity, cancers and neurodegeneration, among a range of other ill-effects. CBD, on the other hand, has actually been shown to have health benefits, including stress and pain relief.

It appears that more people are turning away from alcohol and to CBD for that stress-busting effect; a poll released at the end of 2020 found that more than a third (33 per cent) of Britons have tried CBD products, while 42 percent have increased their usage since the outbreak of Covid-19.

More than 60 percent of those surveyed said they had found CBD products to be effective, with anxiety the most common reason for using them – making the fizz of a can of CBD just as alluring as a G&T.

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Lifestyle

Can CBD help you age better?

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Dr Harrison Weisinger

Dr Harrison Weisinger, co-founder of Truth Origins, shares his insight into the role that CBD and other natural supplements play in slowing down the ageing process.

Adding Vitamin A to our routine, drinking more water, trying every cream under the sun – most of us have tried to reverse the effects of ageing at one time or another, most of the time with great expense and not much luck.

But there is one solution which is emerging to help us age better – CBD and associated supplements.

Dr Harrison Weisinger – or Dr Harry, as he is more commonly known – is a family doctor who has committed his life to improving human health and performance, with special interests in nutrition and longevity.

Along with his childhood best friend and business partner, Trent Scanlen, Dr Harry is a popular advocate of the use of CBD supplements for anti-ageing and many other purposes. The duo are so passionate, in fact, that they launched the Truth Supplements brand to share their knowledge and dedication to improving human health.

A sub-brand of Truth Supplements, Truth Naturals offers an array of 100 percent natural, organic CBD products, ranging from oils and sprays to gumdrops.

The pair have also developed the Truth Origins range –100 percent plant-based, immune-supporting supplements. The mission of the brand, they say, is simple: “To innovate and create natural solutions for people in search of optimal health and wellbeing.”

Dr Harry recently fronted a presentation on health optimisation, titled ‘How can we age better’, where he discussed how a variety of CBD products can affect our health and how we mature.

In the webinar, Dr Harry declared that “life expectancy without drugs and supplements is closer to 30 years than 100 years of age” – but how exactly can CBD, and other supplements, have that much of an impact?

According to Dr Harry, the biggest problems we face today revolve around stress, anxiety and insomnia; pain, inflammation and chronic disease; and nutrient deficiencies – a proclamation which many of us would agree with.

By tackling each of these issues through its impact on receptors in the endocannabinoid system (ECS), CBD could help us decrease the effect these factors have on how we age.

The ECS is thought to affect a range of psychological and physiological functions, including appetite, mood, immune function, pleasure and pain – and by interacting with the system, CBD can regulate these.

Prior research has shown that CBD usage can ease symptoms in chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia and MS, as well as improving sleep quality.

In terms of its psychological effects, several studies have found that CBD can reduce stress and improve our overall quality of life  – both of which affect how we age physically, as well as mentally.

In a range of formats and with varying levels of potency, the Truth CBD supplements promise to tackle these issues with “guaranteed purity, transparency and efficacy”. Its Rest, Recover and Rise range, in particular, is made up of 100 percent natural, organically grown CBD to be used both at night and along with drinks through the day.

Another popular solution is the brand’s CBD oil, which has proven results in customers suffering from chronic back pain thanks to its rich hemp oil blend, which features no THC and won’t offer unpleasant ‘high’ feelings.

The rest of the range targets ailments ranging from arthritis and vitamin deficiencies to insomnia, while also boosting the immune system.

By targeting these ‘problem areas’ and reducing our aches and pains, it’s likely that CBD can play a role in improving both our physical and mental health, which in turn will help us age better.

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