Hemp/CBD for Anxiety

Can cannabidiol (CBD) products provide help for anxiety? As I mentioned last week, everyone is afraid of something. And at some point, a daily news diet of mass shootings, cyberterrorism, climate change, species extinctions, pandemics, mega-storms, earthquakes, and near-miss asteroids may inspire a certain amount of dread. Usually, you can put these things out of your mind and get on with the business of living. But there’s a cost to learning to live with dread. I think that cost may be the rise of widespread anxiety.

Wikipedia says anxiety is “the subjectively unpleasant feelings of dread over anticipated events.” It is different from fear in that it is focused on threats that are perceived but not immediate. When it gets intense enough, anxiety can become anxiety disorder. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “an estimated 31.1% of U.S. adults experience an anxiety disorder at some time in their lives.”

Hemp/CBD vs. Anxiety

That’s a lot of clinical anxiety. No wonder there is so much ongoing research on the ability of CBD to control it. A 2015 report in the journal Neurotherapeutics reviewed the existing research and concluded, “We found that existing 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.” (“Acutely” means as needed.) The researchers said they found considerable evidence of efficacy, although they found few studies of clinical populations.

CBD seems to help with anxiety by promoting synaptic serotonin activity. In a way, this makes it similar to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as Prozac. SSRIs work by limiting the reabsorption of serotonin in the brain so that more of it is available to the synapses. That’s about where the similarities end, however. SSRIs are available only by prescription. CBD is an oil extracted from the hemp plant and is generally considered a nutrient rather than a drug. Side effects (fatigue, nausea, change in appetite) are not unknown, but hemp/CBD is considered safe, and its principal risk is in interacting with drugs you may already be taking. Hemp/CBD is not a drug, but since it readily interacts with drugs, you should be sure to speak with your doctor before using it.

Very Low Risk

Exactly how CBD helps anxiety, however, is not entirely understood. But a handful of clinical studies, such as this one, suggest that it does help.

The bad news is that there is very little research on dosing. If you want to try CBD oil tinctures, you have to rely on the best experience of people who have used them before you, and then work out your own ideal dosage. That means starting small and gradually working out the right amount for your particular body chemistry.

But that bad news is offset by at least three pieces of good news:

    1. Hemp/CBD works not on your brain but with your synapses, and it won’t get you high.
    2. CBD has been pronounced safe by the World Health Organization (PDF): “CBD is generally well tolerated with a good safety profile. Reported adverse effects may be as a result of drug-drug interactions between CBD and patients’ existing medications.”
    3. In New Hampshire, CBD from hemp (as opposed to CBD from marijuana) is legally available without a prescription.

Ready to Try?

If you want to try a hemp oil tincture on your own anxiety, Peak Recovery & Health Center offers two. Our products — Peak’s Full-Spectrum Hemp Oil and Peak’s Iso-Filtered Hemp Oil — come from American-grown hemp and are typically much purer than Asian hemp products. Questions? We are here to help. Call Peak at 603-402-4564.

Photo: “Hemp” by Chris H, who describes the photo as depicting “A sustainable versatile crop.” Creative Commons license.