Cannabis Oil for Anxiety: A Primer

Anxiety is the most common mental illness in Canada.

In fact, 3 million Canadian adults report having a mood or anxiety disorder, and it’s been estimated that 1 in 4 Canadians will have at least one anxiety disorder in their lifetime.

Whether it’s going to a job interview, taking a test, moving, or public speaking, any of these events can invoke nerves for some people, but crippling anxiety for others.

After all, these are all pressure-filled situations where stress or nervousness beforehand is common, even expected.

So when does anxiety become a serious condition and how can cannabis oil help manage symptoms?

If you or someone you know has an anxiety disorder, the next few minutes could prove helpful as we explore how cannabis oil can potentially help manage symptoms and more.

What is anxiety?

At some point everyone feels nervous or worried — this is typical low-level anxiety. Normal or mild anxiety becomes a disorder when the intensity of your uneasy feelings ramp up to an uncomfortable and problematic level. Your emotions become extreme, greatly interfere with your everyday life and can last for months or even years.

Most people suffering from an anxiety disorder experience it differently than the next person.

There is large number of symptoms associated with chronic anxiety. They range from a thumping heart to nightmares to panic attacks and so on. Since your symptoms may be completely different to another person’s knowing how to spot them is crucial, which leads us to our next topic.

The different types of anxiety

Medical professionals aren’t 100 percent sure what causes anxiety disorders but theories have been floated. Among them are genetics, an underlying physical illness and/or certain traumatic experiences. Severe anxiety affects people in many different ways, listed below are most well-known types.

  • GAD: Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by chronic anxiety, exaggerated worry and tension. It can be triggered by the smallest thing or nothing at all. People suffering with GAD often struggle to control their anxiety and have problems concentrating on everyday tasks.
  • OCD: Obsessive-compulsive disorder occurs when recurrent, unwanted obsessions and/or repetitive compulsions negatively impact or impede a person’s life. These irrational behaviors — such as repetitive hand washing, counting, or cleaning — are often performed in the hope of banishing obsessive thoughts. Choosing not to perform these “rituals” can cause a spike in the sufferer’s anxiety.
  • Panic disorder: Symptoms of this condition include unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear. These bouts are usually accompanied by dizzy spells, chest pain, heart palpitations, restricted breathing and/or abdominal discomfort.
  • PTSD: Often associated with war veterans, post-traumatic stress disorder can develop after experiencing a traumatic event or ordeal in which deadly physical harm occurred or was threatened. Known triggers of this disorder include military combat, natural disasters or those caused by humans, serious accidents or vicious assaults on your person.
  • SAD: Also known as social anxiety disorder, this condition is characterized by a fear of everyday social interactions. Symptoms include intense bouts of anxiety coupled with extreme self-consciousness when faced with a certain social situation. Public speaking or eating in front of others are two examples of triggers. In its most severe form the sufferer can constantly experience symptoms when around others.
  • Agoraphobia: This is a fear of certain places or situations that make the person feel trapped, helpless, or embarrassed. A panic attack will usually ensue after the negative feeling. Agoraphobics may try to avoid trigger places and situations to prevent these attacks. This can lead to certain individuals becoming reclusive.
  • Selective mutism:  Affecting mostly children it is an inability to talk in specific situations or places for a long period of time. This selective muted state can interfere with school and interacting with peers. For example, a child may talk at home but refuse to do so at school.

What is CBD oil?

This medicinal liquid is made by extracting cannabidiol — another name for CBD — from the flowers, leaves, and the stalk of the cannabis plant using solvents.

CBD is the second-most present and studied of the cannabinoids. It doesn’t deliver a “high” to the user but instead has been praised for its impressive and broad range of therapeutic values.

How CBD oil helps with anxiety

Although more studies are required CBD oil has deservedly gained a reputation in recent years as a potentially-viable treatment for anxiety. It appears the collective interest of researchers has been truly captured. CBD as a treatment for anxiety is currently one of the most well-funded sectors of modern cannabis research.

The future looks bright for the humble, once-neglected cannabinoid. Its multiple therapeutic uses means CBD is even starting to challenge the popularity of its psychoactive cousin THC. Online stats have revealed that ‘CBD oil and anxiety’ rank high among the most searched topics on the web in the field of restorative and cannabis-related medicine.

So what is all the fuss about and how exactly does CBD help those with anxiety disorders?

Let’s delve into the science of it.

Explore In-Depth: What is CBD oil?

CBD interacts with your body’s own natural endocannabinoid system or (ECS). Present in nearly every cell in the body the ECS plays a vital role regulating such things as your digestive system, appetite, mood, memory and perception of pain.

Stress recovery and management is a primary function of the ECS as it relentlessly strives to achieve balance within your body, no matter what type of mayhem or serenity is occurring externally.

While interfacing with CB2 receptors CBD communicates with a neurotransmitter called GABA. Individual messages are then sent by GABA to a series of brain cells, or neurons.

That message usually tells the body it’s an appropriate time to shut down. Since a vast amount of brains cells are inhibited by GABA the results of that shut down are beneficial. They include a reduction in anxiety and a relaxing of the muscles which highlights CBD’s anticonvulsant and anxiolytic qualities.

Then there’s its versatility. A 2015 summary of prior CBD studies came to the conclusion that it’s a very promising treatment for several anxiety disorders. Which includes many of the above-mentioned types such as PTSD, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, OCD, and generalized anxiety disorder.

CBD oil vs conventional anti-anxiety medicine

So you’ve been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, you’re obviously upset and wondering how to proceed. Before going straight to your doctor in search of medication try using natural methods to tackle your condition first.

Exercise of all kinds such as walking, running, swimming and yoga can help with stress reduction in your life. The same can be said for relaxation methods like meditation, reading or simply taking a warm bath in silence.

This approach should be given a try before medicine is considered. However, if the natural route fails it’s time to make an important choice. Prescription drugs or cannabis extracts. Conventional anti-anxiety medicines are called benzodiazepines. They are like minor tranquilizers and are versatile sedatives.

‘Benzos’ are used as muscle relaxants, to induce sedation for surgery, to treat seizures and to aid those in the depths of alcohol withdrawal. Yes, they have useful functions and can soothe anxiety but what about the downside?

It’s been well documented that benzodiazepines come with an unpleasant collection of side effects. The tamer and most common of these side effects are drowsiness, sedation, loss of balance and dizziness.

However, people on heavier doses may experience amnesia, depression, problems breathing, confusion and disorientation. It seems wrong that a pill to treat an anxiety disorder comes laden with a whole other range of problems.

CBD oil, on the other hand, has very few side effects, none of which are too serious.

It can cause reactions like diarrhea and fatigue in some people and may interfere with certain medications so consult a doctor before trying it.

Although studies are still in their infancy, CBD’s  safety profile is already established in a plethora of ways.  With a growing reputation as a respected treatment for several anxiety disorders, it seems like a safer, healthier choice.

Aside from benefiting anxiety sufferers, multiple studies point to CBD being a promising treatment for depression, arthritis, epilepsy, certain cancers, psychosis and more.

How to best consume CBD oil

There a several ways to send your CBD oil to its destination. For the fastest results though the oil should be dropped straight under the tongue for sublingual ingestion. Another very efficient method is to inhale it through vape pen but avoiding this method with children is recommended.

Then there’s edibles and drinks. CBD oil can be purchased as capsules, candy, foods, or beverages but for convenience, you can always just add some of your oil bottles to a meal or a drink.

What about cannabis oil with THC for anxiety?

Cannabis oil goes by several different names. CBD oil falls under its umbrella as does THC oil. It’s a tad confusing but the simple difference is some oils contain non-psychoactive CBD and some contain psychoactive THC. Mixtures of the two are also popular for medical purposes.

THC is the most studied, present and stigmatized of the cannabinoid family. Also known as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, it is best known as the compound that gets you “high” but that doesn’t mean its therapeutic uses should be overlooked.

Can a psychoactive compound like THC really help with anxiety?

THC and anxiety have a complicated relationship. For some, just one pull off a joint can flare up their anxiety symptoms, inducing worry, panic and stress. Sadly, it doesn’t end there. Heightened paranoia can afflict others following even minimal THC use.

This is understandable because, honestly, today’s THC levels in cannabis have never been higher, excuse the pun. However, studies show that most anxiety disorders are not linked to increased cannabis use.

So what about the other side to THC? The one many fail to notice, the more useful side.

When it comes to treating anxiety the majority of people aren’t aware of the low-THC strains out there. CBD heavy strains with just a dash of THC are changing the way anxiety sufferers view the stigmatized cannabinoid. These CBD-THC hybrid strains help with several anxiety disorders, whether they’re turned into oil or consumed in another way.

However, that’s not to say THC-rich strains don’t serve a purpose too. When used in low doses, carefully chosen indicas, sativas and hybrids of the pair can help with the symptoms of GAD, PTSD, and SAD.

To sum up

Right now it appears the sky’s the limit for the medicinal capabilities of CBD oil and for anxiety.

The truth is though it’s not going to help everyone — no drug in the anxiety field can claim it will — but it could prove to be a healthier alternative to ‘benzos’ and their harmful side effects.

As always, consult your doctor before trying CBD oil for your anxiety, and remember that calculating your dosage is key.