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Health anxiety and how CBD could help

Health anxiety is a recognised condition, characterised by obsessive thoughts about becoming or being ill. 



It is not surprising that living through a pandemic has caused a rise in anxiety, particularly when it comes to our health.

Health anxiety is a recognised condition, characterised by obsessive thoughts about becoming or being ill. 

According to the NHS, other symptoms include frequently checking body for signs of illness, always asking people for reassurance that you’re not ill, worries that medical tests may have missed something and obsessively looking at health information on the internet or in the media.

And with a near-constant media focus on coronavirus – its symptoms and its death rates – over the past 12 months, more and more people are suffering.

A Dutch study shortly after the pandemic hit confirmed that people who already had depressive, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorders were experiencing a detrimental impact on their mental health from the Covid-19 pandemic.

For some people, the anxiety deteriorated to such an extent that could barely leave the house for fear of contracting the virus, with others leaving their jobs or spending hours washing everything that came into the house. 

How to manage symptoms

However, there are ways to manage health anxiety and lessen its impact on daily life.

In recent months particularly, sufferers have been advised to limit the time they spent scouring the media for the latest news, and to stick to only reading credible sources. 

Other advice included staying in touch with people (virtually, if necessary) and talking about any fears and worries, as well as eating a healthy diet and taking regular exercise.

The NHS also recommends keeping a diary of episodes of health anxiety, as well as techniques on how to challenge such intrusive thoughts. 

If self-help techniques do not work, cognitive behavioural therapy is also recommended, which focuses on challenging intrusive thoughts and beliefs, and gradually changing behaviour.

An alternative?

While some restrictions are still in place, and people are beginning to find what they are comfortable doing, many of the activities that are often used to ease stress and anxiety are out of bounds.

And with concern mounting about a rise in alcohol use over the course of the pandemic, they are increasingly looking for alternative ways to ease their anxiety.

Enter CBD, which is well-known to help ease symptoms of anxiety, no matter what is causing them.  

A recent poll 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.

In fact, it’s becoming such a popular remedy that a Canadian firm is currently 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.

Earlier this year, Florida-based Nutrition Formulators published findings from a two-year study in the peer-reviewed Innovare Journal of Medical Science. 

Examining worldwide clinical papers from 2019 and 2020, researchers found that more than 70 percent of CBD research on anxiety and stress showed positive outcomes. 

The meta-analysis focused on CBD isolate and grouped the research into several categories, including CBD impacts on depression, sleep, panic attacks, dementia, inflammation, metabolism, behaviour, Parkinson’s disease, and psychiatric illnesses. 

When looking at anxiety, the studies show that CBD reduces anticipator anxiety, such as speaking in public by affecting the part of the brain that processes emotional information.

Dr Marcelo Ferro, lead author and biochemist with Nutrition Formulators, said: “After spending 10 months reviewing the research, I was surprised at how many people with anxiety and depression could be helped by incorporating CBD into their lives.”

While more research is needed – there are worries that CBD could be no more than a sticking paster for anxiety – the short-term benefits could be perfectly suited to easing the symptoms of Covid-induced health anxiety.



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