In the past, the fight-or-flight mechanism enabled our ancestors to react swiftly to avoid imminent death, prompting them either to confront and overcome the danger or flee to a place of safety. Put simply, it helped them to survive.
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WHAT IS ANXIETY?
Anxiety is our physiological and emotional response to stress. When we feel threatened, our brain triggers a process called the fight-or-flight response, an innate survival instinct passed down through generations over millions of years. Our body’s alarm system is activated and a surge of stress hormones – including adrenaline and cortisol – are released, causing a racing heart, shortness of breath, trembling, flutters in the stomach, nausea and sweating. We feel fearful and nervous and can exhibit hypervigilant and avoidant behaviours.
CAN CBD HELP?
Although most of us no longer face potential death on a daily basis, this same process is still kick-started by comparatively harmless situations such as sitting exams, job interviews and public speaking. This is natural, as a certain amount of anxiety is actually productive and helps us to prepare for and accomplish tough but necessary tasks and strengthens our resilience, so we learn to cope in similar circumstances in the future. When the stressful situation passes, our anxiety subsides.
A 2015 study into ‘Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders’ summarised that preclinical evidence conclusively demonstrates CBD’s efficacy in reducing anxiety behaviours relevant to multiple disorders, including PTSD, GAD, PD, OCD, and SAD, with a notable lack of anxiogenic side-effects.
As with any medication, anxiolytics have potential unpleasant side effects. These include drowsiness, confusion, dependence (and associated withdrawal symptoms), nausea, diarrhoea, sexual dysfunction, weight gain, and suicidal thoughts.
OCD is characterised by unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and/or repetitive behaviours (compulsions). It usually presents with the sufferer needing to complete a certain action to cause/prevent an certain outcome.
Traditional treatment for anxiety disorders
The hippocampus is the seahorse shaped area in the brain that is associated with memory, emotions, and motivation. People who suffer from chronic anxiety and depression tend to have a notably smaller hippocampus than those who don’t. By stimulating the growth of neurons in the hippocampus, thereby enlarging to a more normal size, anxiety and emotional response management could be improved.
Crucially, THC activates the brain’s neurotransmitters that are involved in the ‘fight or flight’ response and can actually lead to feelings of anxiety. THC does have its own benefits, and is present in medical marijuana; so, if you are using THC and find yourself suffering from THC induced anxiety, vaping CBD oil could help to counteract it.
Therapy is often the first port of call for people suffering from anxiety. Speaking with a licensed counsellor or psychotherapist can be helpful as they teach you coping techniques to overcome the irrational thinking that leads to attacks of anxiety.
A 2011 study published in Neuropsychopharmacology linked the usage of CBD to the reduction of social anxiety.
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Here’s what the science says regarding CBD’s anxiolytic properties, along with experts’ dosage guidelines and advice on how to take CBD safely.
Without clear FDA guidance, optimal CBD use for anxiety varies from person to person. You may find one method works better for you over another. You can consume CBD in the following forms:
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Cheryl Bugailiskis, M.D., a cannabis specialist at Heally, a telehealth platform for alternative medicine, also warns people with preexisting liver injuries and people taking medications that can cause liver injuries should practice caution when using CBD.
However, taking CBD while on other medications may pose a risk, as these substances may interact and cause unwanted effects, such as weight gain, drowsiness, upset stomach and change in appetite.
Eight years later, a 2019 test compared the efficacy of three CBD doses (150 milligrams, 300 milligrams and 600 milligrams) and a placebo in men taking an SPST  Linares IM, Zuardi AW, Pereira LC, et al. Cannabidiol presents an inverted U-shaped dose-response curve in a simulated public speaking test. Revista brasileira de psiquiatria (Sao Paulo, Brazil : 1999). 2019;41(1):9-14. . Compared to a placebo, 300 milligrams of CBD significantly reduced participants’ anxiety during the speech, but the 150-milligram and 600-milligram doses did not. These results highlight how dosage can be highly variable and that more CBD isn’t necessarily more effective.
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