Can vaping CBD oil really help anxiety?
Research into the full potential of CBD oil is still in its infancy; but people suffering from anxiety are reporting significant relief. In this article we explore how CBD oil is helping to reduce the symptoms of various anxiety disorders.
What is CBD oil good for?
In our comprehensive guide to cannabidiol (CBD) we outlined the science behind cannabinoids, how they interact with our bodies, and the benefits that are being reported for various conditions including arthritis, chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, and ADHD.
In this article we want to specifically explore the benefits for anxiety disorders as that is one of the most common reasons that our customers look to CBD oil for relief.
What is CBD oil NOT?
In that guide we also clear up some of the misinformation surrounding the legality of CBD oil, as well as the common misconception that vaping CBD oil will get you high (spoiler: it won’t!).
If the idea of using cannabis related products makes you uneasy, read that guide first to put your mind at rest. If not, read on...
Research into CBD oil
It’s true to say that most of the existing research into the benefits of cannabis has focused on the use of marijuana rather than the CBD component as a standalone entity. That’s why it’s important to separate the research that specifically looks at cannabidiol (CBD) and its effects on the symptoms of anxiety - and the preliminary research is extremely promising. More on the research later. Firstly, let’s look at anxiety in more detail.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health issues in our society. A 2017 report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) claims that over 260 million people worldwide suffer from a form of anxiety.
Anxiety manifests as five major types. Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Social Phobia (aka Social Anxiety Disorder or SAD), Panic Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) all fall under the more general ‘anxiety’ banner. As well as the feelings of worry, nervousness and unease that underpin anxiety disorders, each type has its own key characteristics.
Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
GAD is characterised by exaggerated and disproportionate worry and tension, usually without any justification or provocation.
Social Phobia (aka Social Anxiety Disorder or SAD)
SAD is characterised by overwhelming self-consciousness in everyday social situations. It can be limited to a single situation, such as public speaking or eating in front of other people. In its most severe form it can lead to agoraphobia.
Panic disorder is characterised by repeated and unexpected episodes of intense fear. It it usually accompanied by physical symptoms such as palpitations, shortness of breath, chest pain, and/or dizziness.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD can manifest following exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal such as a violent assault, an accident, or military combat.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
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
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.
However, when anxiety becomes so severe that it significantly impedes daily life, medication is normally the next option.
Anxiolytics are a range of medications that inhibit anxiety. They are common in the ongoing treatment of anxiety disorders and their associated psychological and physical symptoms. Barbiturates, benzodiazepines, opioids, and antidepressants are all prescribed as anxiolytics.
What are the side effects of anti-anxiety drugs?
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.
As a result, attention is being turned towards the natural anxiolytic-like potential for cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD) from legal industrial hemp. Expert opinion is growing that CBD in particular can have a beneficial effect on the brain, thereby reducing the symptoms of anxiety disorders. Let’s take a look at some of the more significant research.
CBD oil effects on anxiety
Brain scans of participants in a 2010 study into social phobia revealed changes in blood flow to the parts of the brain that are linked to anxiety when cannabidiol (CBD) was introduced.
A 2011 study published in Neuropsychopharmacology linked the usage of CBD to the reduction of social anxiety.
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.
A 2016 report published by The Permeate Journal associated cannabidiol with the safe treatment of PTSD.
Finally, and perhaps most significantly, a 2013 study on mice connected the repeated administration of CBD to the regeneration of neurons within the hippocampus.
Anxiety and the hippocampus
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.
Vaping CBD oil for anxiety disorders
Vaping is arguably one of the fastest ways to feel the beneficial effects of CBD, which is critical when faced with an acute anxiety attack.
Also, the legal CBD oil that is extracted from certified industrial hemp for use in vaping e-liquid contains negligible amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), if any. THC is the psychoactive component of cannabis that gives you the ‘high’. Since this is missing in CBD oil e-liquid, it can be vaped at any time during the day when you feel your anxiety heightening.
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.
Using CBD for anxiety safely
To date, there is no evidence to suggest that CBD oil is harmful to humans. It is a plant based cannabinoid, and cannabinoids are found naturally in our own bodies. Hence, if you decide to try CBD oil to find relief from your particular anxiety symptoms, even if you don’t find the positive results you were hoping for, you’re unlikely to find any negative ones.
This being said, it’s still absolutely essential that you consult with a doctor before taking CBD oils if you are taking prescribed anxiety medication.
The research into CBD continues
As more studies are undertaken, and more research published, we will continue to update you with all the latest findings regarding CBD.
In the meantime, if you have any questions, or need any advice, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’re always happy to help.
- Nicola Webster