Living through a pandemic has made us all, understandably, a lot more anxious and increasingly people are finding relief in CBD.
Whether we’re worried about finances and or concerned for our health, what’s being termed Covid-anxiety has hit the population in a major way, with dedicated anxiety helplines even extending their hours of operation to accommodate demand.
Now, many people are turning to CBD to help them manage their anxiety – but is it effective? And, if so, how much should we be taking?
Is it effective?
It would appear so, yes.
A recent two-year review of the research so far has shown that CBD can have a significant positive impact on anxiety and stress.
The report, which examined worldwide clinical papers from 2019 and 2020, was produced by Florida-based Nutrition Formulators and published in the peer-reviewed Innovare Journal of Medical Science.
When focused specifically on anxiety, the studies showed that CBD reduced anticipator anxiety, such as speaking in public, by affecting the part of the brain that processes emotional information.
How does it work?
According to the authors of one 2015 review, CBD works by interacting with the cannabinoid type 1 receptor, the serotonin 5-HT1A receptor, and other receptors in the brain that regulate fear and anxiety-induced behaviours.
In a more recent 2020 study, researchers evaluated CBD’s effects on 397 adults with a variety of ailments.
Those 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.
How should I take it – and much should I take?
There are a variety of CBD products on the market, so which you choose will depend largely on when and why you’re feeling anxious.
Methods include the oral route, through tinctures, oils and gummies, or more topical remedies, such as balms and creams.
For anxiety, you will probably be more suited to an oral administration method, as this will enter the bloodstream, but here too there is a world of difference between products.
The effects of orally administered CBD, such as oils, edibles, or capsules, begin working within 30 minutes to 2 hours, as they have to work their way through the digestive system.
Products such as gummies are pleasant-tasting and discreet, meaning you can use them to relieve anxiety throughout the day. Alternatively, you could take a drop of oil in the morning with some food.
Smoking or vaping CBD oil on the other hand, results in more immediate effects, which may help people during especially stressful events, such as giving a speech.
In terms of dosage, as with using CBD for any issue or ailment, the key is to start low and go slow.
There is a misconception that you will only get the desired effect using a higher dose, but this is far from the truth; micro-dosing can be just as effective.
Studies have shown that between 300mg and 600mg a day is affective for controlling the symptoms of anxiety, but this is dependent on a number of factors, such as the type of CBD used and the consumer’s own health, weight and metabolism.
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Could the endocannabinoid system and CBD help with treating SAD?
A new study examines the role that the endocannabinoid system may play in regulating our moods such as stress, happiness and anxiety
A paper in the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry has examined the potential of the endocannabinoid system to play a part in treating SADs.
Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is a common psychiatric disorder. People with SAD have an excessive fear or anxiety of social situations where they worry their behaviour may cause embarrassment, humiliation or rejection by others. This could be related to performance situations such as public speaking but may also be starting a conversation or socialising at an event. This may cause people to avoid attending events, work or relationships.
The NHS currently lists cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or anti-depressant medication as options for treatment with SAD.
The researchers reviewed existing scans of the brain to see if hormone imbalances could be the reason for the development of SAD. They examined dopamine which is responsible for how we feel pleasure, serotonin which stabilises our moods and the stress hormone cortisol.
They wrote: “The monoamine hypothesis and pharmacological approaches suggest that the neurobiologies of depression and anxiety share imbalances in the monoaminergic neurotransmission system.41 In this regard, neuro-molecular positron emission tomography (PET) and single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) studies in SAD have largely focused on imaging serotonergic and dopaminergic neurotransmission, based on the reported efficacy of antidepressants.”
The authors wrote: “Emerging evidence suggests that the endogenous cannabinoid system, also referred to as the endocannabinoid system (ECS), could play a potential role in the pathophysiology of SAD. This review discusses the known pathophysiological mechanisms of SAD, the potential role of the ECS in this disorder, current drugs targeting the ECS, and the potential of these novel compounds to enhance the therapeutic armamentarium for SAD.”
The researchers concluded that the ECS could be a potential biological pathway in the treatment of SAD and is a promising avenue for developing more therapeutic approaches. They highlighted that there is a lack of human ECS studies or clinical trials which allow for ‘significant gaps in our knowledge.’
Could CBD help?
The ECS involves three core components: endocannabinoids, receptors and enzymes. These receptors can be found throughout the body. Endocannabinoids bind to them to send a signal that the ECS needs to do something.
The main receptors are CB1 found in the central nervous system and CB2 in the peripheral nervous system. Endocannabinoids can bind to either receptor and produce effects depending on where the receptor is located and which one it binds to.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) binds to CB1 or CB2 receptors while it is thought that potentially CBD can influence the receptors. Researchers aren’t sure how it interacts exactly.
A study explored the potential effects of CBD on people with SAD. Participants were given 400 mg of CBD or a placebo. Those given the CBD reported less anxiety than those given the placebo.
Another study on anxiety and sleep also revealed the potential of CBD to help stabilise our moods. The study involved 72 patients with 47 primarily experiencing anxiety and 25 suffering from poor quality sleep. Each person was given 25 milligrams of CBD each day and the majority of participants at 79.2 percent recorded they had lower anxiety while 66.7 percent reported better sleep after just the first month.
However, there is more research needed on both the endocannabinoid system and how CBD interacts with it to help treat SAD.
One in five autism caregivers give their child CBD products
A new report by reveals that the majority of parents started using oils during the pandemic for older children.
A study by Autism Parenting Magazine revealed that almost 20 percent of people caring for an autistic child give them CBD products.
The autism parenting survey was sent to 160,000 subscribers around the world revealing the extent of CBD use by parents caring for an autistic child. 18.6 percent of respondents confirmed they use CBD for a child on the spectrum to relieve a variety of their symptoms. This was further broken down to 22.16 percent of US parents compared to 14.29 percent of UK families.
It is estimated that there are 700,000 people in the UK with a diagnosis of autism. This is equal to one in 100 children in the UK.
The new survey also revealed that 31.3 percent of those using CBD products started during the Covid-19 pandemic. A further 16.6 percent revealed they have increased the amount since the pandemic began. The reason for this was thought to be down to increased anxiety and panic.
The data showed 76.3 percent CBD only use while the remaining 10 percent used other forms such as hemp, CD/THC and Epidiolex or CBD with terpenes.
The majority of those who responded were parents at 72.4 percent but there were also grandparents, careers, teachers, therapists, doctors or individuals on the spectrum.
Autism symptom relief
The survey revealed that the primary use for CBD was anxiety relief at 42.9 percent or challenging behaviour at 36.9 percent. The rest stated pain relief, inflammation, sleep or relaxation. A small number of parents, 4.3 percent, said seizures. Other reasons were given as speech or supporting potty training.
The survey also asked how much support the parents felt their child needed with 42.9 percent stating ‘requires substantial support.’ A small number at 17.9 percent said very substantial support. CBD use tended to be daily in the form of oils.
Oils were a favourite amongst parents with 60.8 percent opting to use this method. Other popular methods included 21.5 percent using gummies, 7.5 percent consuming capsules or tablets. A few used lotions or balms while 1.9 percent used vapes.
A large number of participants used CBD for their teenagers with 21.39 percent confirming their child was aged 13 to 18.
Only a small number of parents were combining the CBD with therapies at 7.4 percent. The therapy was listed as Applied Behaviour Analysis Therapy (ABA Therapy). ABA therapy considers a person’s understanding of how behaviour works in real situations. The aim of therapy is to increase helpful and decrease unhelpful behaviours that could be harmful or affect learning. ABA is being used increasingly in the UK.
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