Anxiety can effect anyone at anytime, some more so then others. It comes in many shapes and sizes, whether it be a build up of nerves before the big game, dealing with the stress of a big exam or simply feeling anxious before a first date, anxiety is always right around the corner waiting to rear its ugly head. Anxiety effects everyone different, some people are able to manage anxiety and use it to their advantage where others can find anxiety very debilitating and very unmanageable. Most people turn to specific medications to help manage their anxiety, others take a more natural approach using things like meditation to level out their anxious feelings while others have started to use a new form of coping to naturally medicate.
CBD has been legal in the United States for just under a year with many people using it to help with a variety of ailments. One of the main uses of CBD in the U.S. has been managing anxiety levels, CBD has a direct correlation of how it interacts with specific receptors in our brain that relieves anxiety at the main source. With almost no side effects and it’s powerful natural components, CBD is becoming one of the most common supplements to help manage day-to-day anxiety.
How CBD Combats Anxiety In Our Brain
CBD has been studied and shown to help as an activator of the 5-HT1a receptor within our brain. 5-HT1a receptors is an activator for serotonin in our brain, which is what helps produce happiness in our brain. These receptors increase the synthesis of serotonin in our brain which helps improve things like appetite, temperature, sexual behavior, sleep and depression. When CBD actives the 5-HT1a receptors it increases the activity and presense of serotonin neurotransmitters in our brains, which brings forward positive effects in our brain. Pharmaceutical medications like Prozac and Zoloft which are used for dealing with anxiety and depression increase 5-HT1a levels over time to help mange symptoms for the long term, but they contain a long list of negative side-effects. This is where CBD beats out the usual pharmaceutical medications as CBD has very little side-effects if any. CBD doesn’t stop there when it comes to helping the brain manage anxiety, it is also showing signs that it can repair brains cells that we lose through stress. Disorders like depression and anxiety can have a severe effect on the brain, where it can interfere with healthy growth and maturation of our brain cells. CBD has shown that it can regenerate lost brain cells, specifically in the hippocampus area of our brain which is associated with our memory, further linking the possibility the CBD can help with future diseases like Alzheimers. More studies need to be conducted to connect CBD with helping brain cell regeneration but studies are looking positive.
CBD and Performance Anxiety In Athletes
Athletes experience various different types of stresses and anxiety, specifically before the big event. A little bit of anxiety can be helpful for staying focused and on your game, but for many, sports performance anxiety can hinder an athletes performance. Stress and anxiety do have somewhat of an importance with its contribution as a survival mechanism, when something is going wrong your brain starts to pump stress hormones into your blood stream which sends them throughout your body. This in turn effects our two main stress hormones in cortisol and adrenaline, both which cause a different reaction in our body. Cortisol increases blood sugar in our bloodstream and stops certain bodily functions which aren’t essential to our fight or flight reaction. Adrenaline boosts our heart rate and blood pressure and increases energy supplies. When we are anxious and stressed these two hormones combined can help make quick decisions to get out of alarming situations. This is where stress can benefit those partaking in a physical activities. However, the anxiety you feel when worrying about the big game coming up is different. Stress for an athlete can be quite crippling and effect various parts of the body they rely on to perform. Performance anxiety can damage things like self-esteem and confidence which comes with an abundance of bodily reactions like:
- Increased heart-rate
- Heavy breathing
- Dry mouth
Many athletes who deal with performance anxiety are usually effected by the psychological effects and there is nothing actually wrong with their body, but when anxiety effects your psyche your fight or flight reaction kicks in and this is where the above symptoms can take effect. Here enters CBD. Our body produces natural cannabinoids which is the main component we get when we consume CBD. Our endocannabinoid system (ECS) helps regulate functions in our body such as sleep, mood, appetite and memory. When we stimulate our ECS it can trigger anxiety, but when we consume CBD it indirectly stimulates our ECS effecting things like our GABA receptors which manage the communication between our brain cells, helping increase or decrease the firing of neurons in our brain. When we decrease neuron firing, our GABA provides a sedative effects, CBD is able to work with our GABA receptors which naturally increases the calming effect GABA provides to our body. CBD has also shown to work with our brain to produce higher levels of serotonin which helps produce better moods, reduces stress and overall calms anxiety.
There are many factors to why athletes get stressed before their big events which mostly point to our brain and body producing certain natural components which effect our fight or flight system. CBD enters the body as a natural component which helps various systems in our body to reduce our fight or flight system going haywire, therefore helping reduce the various bodily reactions athletes feel when they become anxious and nervous about their performance.
CBD And OCD
Obsessive-compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder that provokes a cycle of obsession and compulsions in the brain. These obsessions are sporadic and can be persistent, effecting productivity, daily routines and social interactions. OCD is when individuals frequently experience intrusive obsessive and repetitive behaviors, leading to intense feelings of anxiety, which fuels the cycle of obsession and compulsive behavior. There are treatments available for dealing with OCD, where individuals will get some type of psychological therapy and then be put on an antidepressant medication to help manage their various symptoms. Like many who deal with anxiety the medications that are prescribed usually have a long list of side-effects . CBD already has a leg up on dealing with OCD instead of using prescription medications, medications take considerable time to help deal with peoples OCD, where as CBD usually takes immediate effect resulting in a decrease of anxiety levels fairly quickly. OCD comes from various malfunctions in the brain, when our hippocampus, amygdala and basal ganglia become overactive they begin to send excessive messages within the brain. This leads our brains to produce consistent fears and thoughts activating and heightening anxiety throughout the body.
CBD can directly effect those areas of our brain that start the fears and overactive thoughts when OCD starts to kick in, producing calming down chemicals between the space in our neurons in our brains. CBD contains cannabinoids which as we noted earlier are a natural compound that interacts with our receptors in our body known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS). CBD binds to fatty acid bind proteins which prevents the body’s cannabinoid from decreasing from our fattay acid amide hydrolase, this results in an increase in our anadamaide levels which is where the symptoms of OCD are generated. This results in less repetitive thoughts and an alteration of behaviors that happen to prevent intrusive thoughts which is a major issues with those with OCD. A study published in the journal of Fundamental & Clinical Pharmacology where animal subjects were given the drug ecstasy which is known to increase symptoms of OCD. The animal subjects then began to bury marbles in the sand profusely which were laid out for them, once these animals were given a high does of CBD they stopped burying the marbles, this showed that the OCD stopped once they took the CBD. Resulting in CBD effectively countering the symptoms of OCD. The same test was conducted again but instead of CBD they administrated Prozac which is used to help anxiety, and the same results occurred as it did with CBD. There are still more studies needed to definitively prove CBD can decrease the effects of OCD, but the signs point towards a positive influence in helping individuals dealing with OCD.
CBD and PTSD
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is experienced by 3.6% of adults in the world according to the National Institute of Mental Health, with women being nearly three times more likely to be affected then men. PTSD can come from a long list of traumatic experiences in ones life, whether they have experienced a death of a loved one, been attacked or been involved in a high stress situation like going to war, it can be an extremely difficult condition to manage on a day-to-day basis. The trauma felt during PTSD can be both mental and physical and once the trauma occurs those effected can become disoriented, become anxious, experience extreme moods swings or have vivid nightmares. As these symptoms progress PTSD is developed. It is common for those experiencing PTSD to develop things like depression, substance abuse, sleep issues and various other mental health disorders.
There are various treatments that are conducted to help deal with PTSD, things like cognitive processing therapy where the individual talks through their trauma with a therapist or eye movement and reprocessing where the individual focuses on the trauma while watching or listening to another neutral trigger. Recent research is starting to point out that CBD has an effect on the main symptoms that come with PTSD, like arousal symptoms, avoidance symptoms and re-experiencing events. When CBD is consumed it actives the two main receptors in the endocannabinoid system known as CB1 and CB2, this directly effects the body’s central nervous system by increasing things like pleasure and the way our memories are processed and acting as a blocker of traumatic memories. This provides a lessened emotional experience allowing for those suffering from PTSD to feel less anxiety towards a traumatic event since they are having less of a negative emotional experience. As time goes and the use of CBD continues, CBD starts to block the consistent memory retrieval, which is a big issues with those suffering from PTSD as they are constantly thinking of their traumatic moments. CBD can also contribute to helping those who have had to deal with a predator in their lives. A study done by the Department of Pharmacology, School of Medicine of Ribeirão Preto at the University of São Paulo showed that when mice were exposed to a cat which is their main predator, they displayed threat stress, but when they were given repeated doses of CBD they showed signs of lower levels of stress and anxiety towards the cat over the following 7 days. Researches believe this is due to the CBD having an activating effect on our 5HT1A receptors, providing an anti-anxiety effect in the mice. This led them to believe CBD can help those suffering from PTSD through the anti-anxiety effects.
CBD has also been seen as a good treatment option for those suffering from PTSD and substance abuse disorders. This is commonly seen in individuals who have returned from war or combat, where 1/3 of veterans who return from war suffer from both PTSD and substance abuse. Those who suffer from both PTSD and substance abuse face the challenge of consistently re-experiencing the events that brought on PTSD, creating a conditioned fear response which can get more intense with every episode. This puts those individuals into a negative loop that heightens PTSD and the reliance on substance to reduce those experiences. CBD is hoped to help break that cycle by altering their fear memory response which CBD can disrupt and reduce.
CBD For Your Social Life
Being in large groups or interacting with people can be very difficult for some people, this is known as social anxiety disorder (SAD), this can cause a significant distress in their day-to-day function. This can include social interactions, performing in front of people, being in a small group or playing sports. SAD has been linked to mental health problems with both a combination of biological and psychological factors, coming from things like a traumatic life event, a family history of anxiety or mental health and substance problems. Again, like most mental health disorders the way it’s commonly dealt with is through various therapy options and anti-depressant medications. CBD is known to work as an anxiety reducing drug, especially those suffering from SAD. CBD has been found to increase blood flow in the body’s cingulate cortex effecting how we interpret the reactions of others. CBD is also known to reduce blood flow to both the hippocampus and parahipposcampal gyrus, which is the area of our brain that recalls memories, therefore helping reduce the constant stress of going out into public. Each part of the brain that involves anxiety like the prefrontal cortex, amygdala, hippocampus, hypothalamus, and PAG all contain CB1 receptors which is known to be boosted by CBD as it binds with those specific receptors throughout the body. Using CBD to deal with SAD looks like it can help deal with unpleasant memories of anxiety or embarrassment and better help individuals perceive the reactions of others.