I feel anxious when I have to give a lecture. It’s really important as a practitioner that I have compassion for my patients, so I’ve used CBD to help my own anxiety. I’ve been able to walk a lot of people through using CBD and other cannabinoids to regulate, tone, and help their anxiety.
So, first of all, what is anxiety and why does it happen? It’s both psychological and pathological. Both an experience and a physical ailment. As adults, we stress and fear over our jobs, mortgages, and kids. We can feel physical anxiety coursing in our body. We can have psychological anxiety where we’re just staying up all night worrying. Some issues such as OCD are also associated with anxiety.
Many clients in my practice deal with medication-induced anxiety. Benzodiazepines such as Valium and Xanax are supposed to help anxiety. However, these drugs can be biphasic, which means some people can still feel anxious and also become dependent on the drug. PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome or Disorder) and social anxiety are other common factors. A lot of evidence suggests that early trauma can play a role in anxiety. Meaning, if you had a traumatic home environment or experienced some acute brain trauma in your youth it can exacerbate anxiety later in life.
There’s evidence that trauma effects the endocannabinoid system, the largest feedback system in the body. If you have a traumatic event your endocannabinoid tone can be off.
Anandamide is a chemical naturally produced by humans and mimicked by THC, the chemical found in cannabis. If trauma affects anandamide it can factor into learning and emotions. If a person is in a car accident their endocannabinoid system can associate emotions with that event. So, they may have some anxiety every time they get into a car.
Anandamide is associated with learning and emotion while THC is associated with reduced memory. When people get high they forget things, right? There’s a lot of debate about whether THC permanently affects memory. The point is if you’re learning positive things then anandamide or THC may enhance those things. If you’re experiencing or learning negative things, then they can enhance that. The science is still thin and there’s a lot of research to do, but it makes sense that affecting the endocannabinoid system can go both help or hinder.
It’s very easy to test this theory because THC can increase anxiety in a lot of people and decrease anxiety in a lot of people. It’s biphasic as well. THC is a powerful chemical that directly effects cells. Some people who feel anxiety relief using THC may over time start to get more anxious because the THC is having such a strong effect on cells. This is similar to conventional medications that might help for a little while, but if you’re not addressing the underlying issues of anxiety your body eventually needs something to help its own system.
CBD is a really fascinating molecule
This is where CBD comes in. CBD is a really fascinating molecule from the cannabis plant called cannabidiol. It mimics another naturally produced human chemical called 2AG, a toning regulator primarily in the immune and nervous systems. But CDB is not a very powerful compound. Most people don’t feel it strongly in their system. CBD has been shown to attenuate the intensity of cortisol, a stress chemical that wakes us up in the mornings. Taking CBD at night tones your system over time so when your cortisol comes online in the morning it’s not so intense and you don’t wake up in a panic thinking about your day.
Another aspect of anxiety involves GABA receptors in the brain. GABA is connected to the anxious energy of peak worry and sedated feeling of depression. When you get anxious you use an unsustainable amount of energy and crush down into a depression. CBD seems to take those sharp edges off the anxiety and depression, so it seems to be interacting in that GABA receptor area. This also points to something really important when we’re talking about using CBD, which is that this nontoxic, plant-based compound can interact with anatomical systems and traditional antidepressants.
I’ve had hundreds of clients use my CBD, and I haven’t had anyone say they’ve had any negative interaction. I think it requires much higher doses and hundreds of milligrams, but I do believe in the FDA model that we have to understand what these drugs are doing before we can allow them out into the world.
That’s why I’m here. I try to educate people about how to use cannabis properly.