According to the WHO (World Health Organization), health is defined as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and [which] does not consist only of the absence of disease or infirmity”.
Therefore, the notion of mental health is an integral and essential part of the state of well-being. According to the WHO, in less than 25 years, the number of people with symptoms of anxiety and depression has increased by 50%.
In 2017, more than 260 million people suffered from anxiety disorders worldwide. With the current Covid-19 crisis and the exceptional containment measures, social isolation has significantly increased, as have the manifestations of stress and anxiety.
After reviewing where stress and anxiety come from and how they manifest, we will see why CBD turns out to be a good calming solution and finally consume it optimally.
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WHAT IS ANXIETY, WHERE DOES IT COME FROM?
Stress is a phenomenon well known to all; it is not necessarily pathological, on the contrary. Stress is a physiological reaction. It can be useful and allow, for example, to alert oneself in a dangerous situation: it is one of the manifestations of the survival instinct.
It can also be felt when approaching an important event such as an exam or a public performance. But stress can also be limiting when it is part of the pathological manifestations of anxiety disorders, it then becomes irrational. Larousse defines anxiety as an “emotional disorder resulting in an indefinable feeling of insecurity”. It is a diffuse sensation, difficult to explain by the anxious person.
It can come from an exogenous source linked to lifestyle or profession, for example. It can also come from an endogenous source and, therefore, from physiological disturbances. This will be the case in several pathologies such as PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome), OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorders), manic-depressive disorder called bipolar, depression, GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) or phobias. Invasive (eg agoraphobia).
The somatic manifestations of anxiety are numerous; it can range from sweating to nightmares through palpitations to a panic attack.
HOW COULD CBD HELP MANAGE ANXIETY?
CBD (cannabidiol) is a phytocannabinoid obtained from the cannabis plant. It has been recognized for many years for its effectiveness in a multitude of mental pathologies. Its action on the management of stress and anxiety disorders could be explained scientifically by several observations.
On the one hand, the presence of endocannabinoid receptors CB1 on the brain’s amygdala, the hippocampus, and the cingulate cortex (brain structures known to regulate anxiety) indicates that the endocannabinoid system is involved in controlling pressure.
Here is a study published in 2015, which found that “CBD has tremendous potential as a treatment for multiple anxiety disorders”.
On the other hand, The TRAILS Study (Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis Reactivity to Social stress and Adolescent Cannabis Use) was conducted on 591 subjects and published in 2011 in the journal Addiction by Dr Andrea Prince van Leeuwen and colleagues highlighted the benefits of cannabis in the stress response.
Indeed, one way to assess the body’s response to stress is to measure what is called the “hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis of reaction”. The endocannabinoid system also regulates this axis. In their study, cannabis users have much lower results than non-users, highlighting their better stress management.
Besides, this HHS axis modulates the release of steroid hormones from the adrenal glands, such as cortisol, called the stress hormone. Finally, the endocannabinoid system is also involved in emotional memory, which is closely linked to stress.
As described above, anxiety is often a bodily manifestation of mental pathologies, such as depression. In this case, scientists have identified a serotonin deficiency, that is, too low a brain concentration of this neurotransmitter closely linked to mood, sleep and aggressive behaviour.
CBD is also very interesting when the traditional treatments for these disorders are in most benzodiazepines for anxiolytic, antidepressants or sleeping pills. Indeed, the latter have effectiveness questioned for a few years and are accompanied by very serious side effects such as irritability, confusion, memory loss, aggravation of depression but above all, a very strong addictive potential.
CBD would ensure effectiveness at least equivalent to benzodiazepines but without their side effects and considerably reduce addictive consumption.
WHAT DOSAGE TO TAKE AND IN WHAT FORM?
Regarding the dosage, there is no precise dosage that can apply to all. The endocannabinoid system differs from one individual to another, as does the disorder’s origin or expression. It is advisable to start herbal medicine based on CBD gradually: start with a low dosage (20-30 mg/day), increasing very slowly. There is no maximum dose that should not be exceeded. The goal will be to arrive at an amount to relieve the targeted symptoms.
It is essential to try to determine the correct dosage as accurately as possible. It is true that in the case of vaporization. However, this mode is very effective and appreciated by many users; it is more difficult to assess how many mg of CBD is consumed with each puff due to losses of phytocannabinoids to the outside, lung capacity, and variability from plant to plant. As for the mode of administration, it is preferable to choose it according to the symptoms:
- If it is generalized anxiety throughout the day (constant pressure), it is better to favour oral or sublingual intake of the oil, capsule or infusion type, two to three times a day. This will ensure a prolonged effect throughout the day and night.
- If it is an unpredictable peak of anxiety, such as a panic attack, it is better to opt for a so-called “if necessary” intake, such as sublingual oil or spray. There will then be an almost immediate effect and a reassessment by the anxious person every 20/30 minutes to resume a dose if the symptoms persist.
- Suppose it is anticipatory anxiety linked to a particularly stressful scheduled event, such as an exam, for example. In that case, it may be useful to start a daily intake 10/15 days before to strengthen the endocannabinoid system gradually.
The alliance with other plants having the same therapeutic virtues, such as valerian, can also be very beneficial.
Finally, it is preferable to favour broad-spectrum CBD oils to take advantage of the entourage effect and, therefore, the benefits of the other active ingredients of the plant, such as terpenes . Indeed, linalool, also present in lavender and bay leaf, or limonene, present in peppermint and citrus peels, have anxiolytic, anti-stress and anti-depressant properties.
In conclusion, as for most of the supposed therapeutic virtues of cannabis, it is necessary to continue clinical studies on the human model, on larger samples, to more precisely determine the appropriate dosages and thus strengthen the scientific evidence. It is also necessary to remember the importance of informing your attending physician and psychiatrist about taking CBD.
Finally, it is important to remember that CBD does not replace the psychotherapies essential for the treatment of mental disorders. The combination of psychotherapy and herbal medicine proving to be the most beneficial and the least toxic for patients.