Anxiety is a debilitating condition estimated to affect more than 17% of those aged 16- 85 or 3.2 million individuals in Australia each year. There are many different types of anxiety, ranging from panic attacks and social anxiety to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that can be suffered solely or in conjunction with other anxiety types.
What Triggers Anxiety in Our Anatomy?
Within our temporal lobe, there’s a collection of nuclei known as the amygdala. When the decision area of our brain determines that there is a threat, it triggers a response within the amygdala, which in return causes the hypothalamus to initiate a fight or flight response. When this occurs is when anxiety is felt throughout the body. This can cause everything from tense muscles and pale, flushed skin to an increase in your heart rate and breathing.
Luckily, many people who suffer from anxiety-related conditions can find relief with the assistance of therapy, lifestyle changes, and medication. Unfortunately, many of the medicines utilized come with a long list of potentially dangerous side effects. This is where many are turning to cannabis to explore the potential benefits while reducing potential side effects that are commonly experienced with other traditional medications.
The Science Behind Cannabis & Anxiety
Cannabinoids within cannabis work with receptors throughout our anatomy that are a part of our endocannabinoid system. Cannabinoids are also able to trigger responses in receptors in other areas of the body as well as the amygdala. Our natural ECS can help regulate anxiety as well as our response to stress by essentially dampening excitatory signals with relations to glutamate, a neurotransmitter.
Discussion of CBD
CBD or Cannabidiol has become a hot topic regarding cannabis’ ability to reduce anxiety. Many people turn to cannabis products containing high concentrations of CBD rather than THC as they do not produce the same intoxicating effects. CBD has been proven scientifically and through anecdotal claims to reduce anxiety, especially when consumed in high concentrations. CBD is also known to counteract the psychoactive effects of THC.
Adverse Side Effects of THC
Many research studies have also shown that THC can help reduce anxiety when taken in small concentrations. However, it is known to increase anxious feelings when consumed in higher concentrations. For this reason, many people find that cannabis strains that offer a higher concentration of CBD than THC tend to produce better results when addressing anxiety.
References to Clinical Trials
The University of Sydney is conducting a 12 week trial of CBD for anxiety in collaboration with The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health as part of the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics at the University of Sydney and Orygen. You can learn more about that research study here.
Tips for Managing Anxiety
Aside from cannabinoid therapy and modern medicine, there are some other easy ways to help reduce and prevent anxiety. Exercise is highly recommended as it can boost both your mental and physical health. Sleep is another essential part of our overall health, and irregular sleep patterns, as well as the lack of sleep, can lead to an increase in anxiety.
Reducing your consumption of alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco, if applicable, can also help to reduce anxious feelings as they are known to kick anxiety into overdrive. Learning and practicing breathing exercises can also be of great value to those looking to reduce anxiety.