Anxiety is a cruel, unrelenting little bastard that takes great joy in imposing general misery on the lives of those affected by it. And though we’ve all experienced a form of it at some point or another, there’s a marked difference between ‘healthy’ anxiety – the kind we get before a job interview or when we have to speak in front of class – and persistent, chronic anxiety, which is a tenacious and all-consuming monster fully capable of infiltrating our happiness, personal livelihoods, and general well-being.
Anxiety disorder is, in fact, the most common form of mental illness in the United States – the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that nearly 30% of U.S. adults will at some point in their lives experience a form of anxiety disorder worthy of treatment. That’s nearly 45 million Americans — over 18% of the U.S. adult population.
Conventional Anxiety Treatments and Their Side-Effects
Out of those 45 million people, the NIMH estimates that over 42% of them – about 18.9 million people – will actively seek treatment for their condition. And of those 18.9 million, over 88% will resort to ‘conventional’ healthcare options — in other words, prescription medication.
This is, of course, a simple and direct result of advertising. We see it day in and day out on our TV’s, phones, and computers: “Suffering from anxiety? Go see your doctor, take this pill, and it’ll all go away.” Then, of course, we can be happy as a clam again and take off on camping trips with our shag-a-doo pups and J. Crew husbands.
In all seriousness though, the general route of medicated anxiety relief is often a dangerous one – we’ve all heard the horror stories of abuse, tolerance, and side effects that stem from reliance on prescription medications.
And in any regard, it’s far from a guarantee that the drugs will even be effective for any given individual: of nearly 17 million people who sought prescription treatment for an anxiety disorder in 2013, only 34% of them reported “minimally adequate treatment.” Pretty sad, when it all comes down to it.
As far as the drugs themselves, conventional anxiety treatments generally fall into two main categories: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s), and benzodiazepines.
SSRI’s – such as Zoloft, Prozac, Lexapro, and Celestra – are long-term treatments for chronic sufferers; they generally take between four and six weeks to start relieving symptoms. And although they’re not as prone to abuse/reliance as benzodiazepines, intense side effects are very common and include symptoms such as insomnia, extreme depression/fatigue, and severe nausea.
Benzodiazepines on the other hand – drugs like Xanax, Klonopin, and Valium – represent the real danger in prescription anxiety treatment; out of all fatal prescription medication overdoses in 2014, they accounted for nearly 30%.
These drugs are an as-needed medication that act as a “quick-fix” in the event of intense onset anxiety — they work much quicker and are prescribed much more commonly than SSRI’s, hence their significant potential for abuse, dependence, and reliance.
Also, given the fact that they work by slowing down the physiological processes of the nervous system, even low doses can produce difficulties in normal, day-to-day functioning. Common side effects range from severe drowsiness and dizziness to confusion, memory loss, blurred vision, and seizures.
The bottom line is, while prescription medications certainly have potential to provide relief from anxiety disorders, it seems that they all too often come at an unsafe, unhealthy, and highly dangerous price.
What is CBD?
Enter CBD. CBD (cannabidiol) is the non-psychoactive component found in marijuana — THC’s boring little cousin, if you will. While it won’t get you stoned, it’s an incredibly active neurological compound that binds to naturally-occurring cannabinoid receptors in our brain, as well as other parts of our body.
And it just so happens that the majority of these receptors are found in the portion of the brain that controls, among other things, our emotional behavior.
Just like any other process in the human body, emotional behavior (anxiety of course being one of them) is 100% reliant on proper cell-to-cell communication; a deficiency in even a single molecule in the cell communication pathway could present a significant disruption in normative behavior.
Could CBD perhaps then be the ‘missing molecular link’ that’s responsible for virtually all of our emotional/chemical imbalances?
A growing number of high-profile, well-respected physicians and researchers are seriously beginning to think it might.
Current Research on CBD and Anxiety
This whole idea of an innate, naturally-occurring complex of cannabinoid receptors in the human body is incredibly nascent; it wasn’t until the early 1990’s that the first glimpses of the endocannabinoid system were even discovered.
Since then, though, we’ve come to learn that every single living human on earth has these receptors floating around naturally in their bodies – and it’s becoming more and more evident that they might just play a key functional role in virtually every neurological and physiological process.
In fact, Dr. Bradley E. Alger of the University of Maryland School of Medicine claimed in 2013 that the endocannabinoid system is “…one of the most important physiologic systems involved in establishing and maintaining human health — endocannabinoids and their receptors are found throughout the body: in the brain, organs, connective tissues, glands, and immune cells.”
And while research on CBD and anxiety specifically has been somewhat limited to date, the several studies that have been carried out in the past several years have shown phenomenally promising signs.
A 2015 publication in the academic journal Neurotherapeutics, for example, stated that “… preclinical evidence strongly supports CBD as a treatment for generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder when administered acutely…”
Likewise, researchers at the University of Nottingham just this past year released a report suggesting similar evidence that CBD can be a relevant treatment for anxiety-related disorders, stating that “…cannabidiol, the main non-psychotomimetic phytocannabinoid found in Cannabis sativa, reduces anxiety via 5-HT1A and (indirect) cannabinoid receptor activation in paradigms assessing innate responses to threat…”
We’re not really sure what the last portion means, but the overall sentiment is clear enough: scientific research is continually proving CBD to be an effective treatment for a range of serious anxiety disorders.
Where to start: Why CBD Oil, and Which CBD Oils are Good For Anxiety Treatment
As it turns out, though, not all CBD oils are created equally. In the table below, we’ve conveniently mapped out a few specific oils that have proven to be the most effective in minimizing symptoms of onset anxiety.
- Full-spectrum Hemp extract
- No pesticides, solvents or chemical fertilizers
- 3rd party laboratory tested
- Price Range ($48.00 – $139.00)
- Maximum potency and purity
- Compounded by a licensed pharmacist
- Highly concentrated extraction process
- Price Range ($26-$169)
- Over 5 Years Experience
- 3rd party laboratory tested
- Organic hemp CO2 extract tincture
- Price Range ($62.00 – $204.00)
- Organic hemp CO2 extract tincture
- Available in Cinnamint & Natural
- Full-spectrum extract
- Price Range ($39 - $249)