A recent survey of stress in the U.S. has revealed that more than half of Americans feel they are living in the most stressful period in American history they can remember. Anxiety-related disorders affect 18% of the population (40 million adults). Does CBD oil perhaps provide one of the answers to this anxiety epidemic?
The state of the country is one of the major stress factors for Americans, according to the results of the annual survey done by the American Psychological Association (APA). Americans are worried about the state of the economy, healthcare, terrorism, and hate crimes. Other major stressors are money (62%) and work (61%).
Stress can have many different causes that vary from person to person and affect them in different ways. However, most people have certain common stressors. Finances are usually a leading cause of stress, particularly for those going through bankruptcy or living in poverty. Work-related stress is very common with both men and women who often work long hours in demanding jobs. Health problems, the death of a loved one and divorce also rate high on the stress scale.
The World Health Organization has estimated that stress-related conditions such as depression will become one of the leading causes of disability over the next 10 years.
The APA survey showed that the levels of stress have not increased much since the previous year but that the effects seem to be more pronounced. More people said that they lie awake at night and reported other symptoms like stomachaches, headaches and feeling anxious or overwhelmed.
Effects of stress on the body
Acute stress sets off the ‘fight or flight’ response in the body, raising the heart rate and releasing the stress hormones – cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. Blood vessels directing blood to the heart and large muscles dilate so that more blood can be pumped to these parts of the body and blood pressure is elevated. Once acute stress has passed, the body returns to normal.
The problem is when a person feels constantly under attack because then the ‘fight or flight’ response stays turned on. This means that the heart rate and blood pressure are constantly elevated and stress hormones continue to flood the body. A constant response to stress can cause major disruption in the body and brain.
Our bodily reaction to consistent and ongoing stress puts us at risk of anxiety, depression, headaches, sleep problems, heart disease, weight gain, digestive problems and memory impairment.
What studies say about CDB oil for Stress
There has been more research on using medical marijuana than on using CBD oil alone. However, the studies that have been done on CBD oil use are promising. CBD (Cannabidiol) is extracted from the cannabis plant which also contains THC (tetrahydrocannabinoil). The THC is the psychoactive element that produces the ‘high’. CBD-only oil will not produce a ‘high’.
Much of the research describing how CBD works is based on animal studies. These studies do provide evidence that can be built upon. In one animal study, for instance, researchers found that CBD may affect serotonin quicker than the SSRIs frequently prescribed for depression.
It’s fast anti-depressant and anti-anxiety effect could possibly help solve some of the limitations of current therapies. Another animal study on mice showed that CBD may help the hippocampus to regenerate neurons, which could help with treating depression and anxiety.
In 2010 a small study was done on people with social anxiety disorder. It was found that using CBD oil decreased the level of social anxiety significantly. A 2011 study corroborated this finding. It focused particularly on the anxiety associated with public speaking. A total of 24 patients never treated before received a single dose of CBD or a placebo prior to the test. The group who took the CBD experienced significantly reduced discomfort, cognitive impairment, anxiety and levels of alertness than the ones who received the placebo.
In 2015 an analysis of many previous studies concluded that CBD oil provided a promising treatment for anxiety. Panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and generalized anxiety disorder all appear to respond positively to use of CBD.
How does the CBD oil work?
The body contains a network of cannabinoid receptors called the Endocannabinoids system. These receptors are involved in processes such as mood, pain and appetite regulation. They can be activated by the plant cannabinoids found in hemp and cannabis. CB1 and CB2 receptors are activated by THC.
CBD does not stimulate these two receptors but others that are also involved in processes related to anxiety, appetite and pain perception. CBD helps to block the psychoactive effect of THC which is why CBD and THC are often combined for treatment. However, CBD has positive effects on its own without THC. Its health benefits can be obtained by buying products that contain only non-psychoactive CBD.
Considerations when using CBD oil for stress
Side effects: The research done to date on CBD oil has found that it has few side effects and so it might be a good option for those who cannot tolerate anxiety medication, such as those with addiction problems. Some medications are very addictive.
A quality product: A reputable company offering CBD oil will show the active amount of CBD found in a product on a label. Some companies claiming to contain CBD oil have been tested and found to contain little or none. They often use cheap methods of extraction, including the use of toxic solvents. You need to buy your products from a trusted supplier who uses a product grown under the best conditions without contamination and uses the right equipment for extraction. This will ensure you have a quality product with the highest bioavailability.
Laws: Some therapeutic products contain only CBD, others a ratio of CBD to THC and yet others a full range of compounds. Understand exactly what you are buying and what the laws are in your state. The laws regarding CBD oil are different throughout the U.S. and several states have CBD-only laws.
Dosage: It is important to begin taking the smallest amount possible and to increase dosage gradually. It is also better to take small doses regularly throughout the day rather than one single, large dose. If you have taken this dosage for a few days and you do not feel less anxious, you can increase the dosage slightly.
CBD takes a while to accumulate in the system so don’t overdo it. It may take a little time and patience to find the correct dosage but continue until you feel calm and relaxed without feeling too sedated.