CBD For Stress Management And Anxiety

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Kevin Aister DO

Apr 26, 2020

Cannabidiol (CBD) has come to prominence recently as a remedy for a range of medical conditions. These range from arthritis to seizure disorders. Although more research is still needed, CBD also looks very promising as a remedy against anxiety and related mood disorders.

What is cannabidiol?

As the name suggests, cannabidiol is a derivative of the cannabis plant. It differs from the better-known tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in that it does not have psychoactive effects. CBD allows users to benefit from the positive effects of medical cannabis without the ‘high’ caused by THC.

Does CBD help anxiety?

Several studies support the use of CBD for various types of anxiety disorder. In animal studies, CBD has been convincingly shown to reduce stress. Test subjects were evaluated based on behavioral signs of stress and anxiety, as well as physiological signs such as elevated heart rates. These improved when the animals were given CBD. Human studies are still limited, but it is reasonable to extrapolate from these results and predict that humans with a generalized anxiety disorder will also benefit from CBD.

Other mood disorders may also respond to CBD. For example, a 2011 study on patients diagnosed with SAD demonstrated a positive effect. This was a double-blind study that compared patients taking 400 milligrams of CBD by mouth with a control group who received placebos. Patients in the CBD group showed improvements in overall mood and had lowered anxiety levels when compared to the control group.

Another condition that may be helped by CBD is post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. In studies, CBD appears to mitigate many symptoms, including nightmares and reliving traumatic memories. CBD has been tested both on its own and as part of a broader treatment protocol involving traditional treatments.

CBD and other disorders

Proponents of CBD have suggested that it may be useful in treating other forms of neurological and psychiatric disorders. Human studies for most conditions remain limited, but there are some positive results. A review of the literature in 2017 found that while there is not enough evidence to conclude that CBD is an effective treatment for depression, it does show promise as a treatment for various psychiatric and mood disorders.

One particularly interesting study, published in 2016, found evidence of anti-psychotic effects from CBD in patients with schizophrenia. This is in stark contrast with cannabis, which may, in fact, cause psychotic symptoms when overused by susceptible individuals. If CBD is found to be an effective treatment for psychotic symptoms, this would be good news for patients. CBD appears to lack the devastating side-effects associated with conventional antipsychotics.

Side effects of CBD

Like any medicinal preparation, CBD can have side effects. Some people may find that CBD makes them fatigued or somnolent, while others may experience increased or decreased appetite. Changes in weight are also associated with CBD. Some people experience upset stomachs and diarrhea when taking CBD internally.

If you are taking other medications, you should speak to your doctor before using CBD. It can have potentially dangerous drug interactions.

Legality

Most commercially available CBD is derived from hemp, a variety of cannabis that contains no THC and is legal to grow and sell. Even so, CBD’s legal status is something of a gray area. Cannabis-derived CBD is regarded as falling under prohibitions against cannabis at a federal level, although hemp-derived CBD is permitted at a national level. It is illegal in some states, however, although these prohibitions are seldom enforced. In some regions, CBD is widely available from a variety of outlets, including whole food stores and stores specializing in alternative treatments. In others, it is only available on prescription. It is your responsibility to check the relevant laws in your state and any states you visit when you have CBD in your possession. If you decide to try CBD, keep in mind that the FDA does not approve or regulate non-prescription CBD products. This means that labeling isn’t always reliable or accurate. The concentration of CBD in a particular product may be weaker or stronger than you expect. It may also contain unwanted additives.

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