Typical treatments for anxiety usually center around either therapy, medication or both. This includes talk therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy, and medications like benzodiazepines, antidepressants, beta blockers and SNRIs (serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors). But non-pharmaceutical solutions are also becoming more popular, especially as new research on them emerges. Case in point: CBD products.
CBD is short for cannabidiol, a cannabinoid compound that is found in hemp and marijuana. Both hemp and marijuana are part of the plant family known as Cannabis. The main difference between marijuana and hemp is the level of THC in each. THC, like CBD, is a cannabinoid compound. There are 60 different known cannabinoids, but THC is the most well-known—the Beyoncé of cannabinoids, if you will. The reason THC is so famous is because it's associated with the psychoactive high that people experience after smoking or ingesting weed.
Let's start with the most officially proven medical use of CBD. Earlier this year, the FDA approved the first-ever drug containing CBD, Epidiolex, to treat two rare forms of pediatric epilepsy. To get to that point, the drug's manufacturers had to do a whole lot of randomized, placebo-controlled trials on humans. They had to study how much children could take, what would happen in case of overdose, and any possible side effects that would occur.
To this point, CBD oil has existed in a kind of liminal space— at once an illegal drug, a legal medication, and some kind of “dietary” supplement. It’s possible this could change in the coming years, however. GW Pharmaceuticals, a U.K.-based firm, has developed a “pure CBD” medication called Epidiolex that has shown promising test results. It is currently on a fast-track to receive FDA clearance. For some patients, Epidiolex could be a miracle cure. This summer, in Wired magazine, writer Fred Vogelstein chronicled his family’s own struggles to find an effective treatment for his son’s epilepsy—including experiments with hemp oil— and the immense hurdles they overcame to gain access to Epidiolex prior to its FDA approval. The drug could be for sale on pharmacy shelves in the near future, though exactly how near is hard to say.
Another major reason people reported not being able to get to sleep, or maintain substantial sleep, was due to chronic pain. Many who suffer from insomnia say that they cannot find enough relief from pain to manage to get to sleep or at least to remain asleep through the night. A rodent study submitted to the European Journal of Pain noted a significant drop in inflammation and signs of pain in rats with arthritis after they received topical treatment of CBD for sleep.
Earlier preclinical studies have suggested that the therapeutic effects of CBD might depend on the presence of specific clinical conditions. As an example, Campos et al. (2013) showed that the chronic use of CBD for 2 weeks, while not directly increasing hippocampal neurogenesis, prevented its decrease by unpredictable chronic stress. Thus, the absence of changes in the sleep of healthy volunteers treated with CDB in our study should not be considered as a final indication that CBD could not have positive effects in patients with sleep disorders.
A geneticist, Kane studies cannabis from a unique perspective—he probes its DNA. He’s an affable, outdoorsy guy with a bright face and eyes that wander and dart inquisitively when he talks. He has studied chocolate and for many years the sunflower, eventually mapping its genome, a sequence of more than three and a half billion nucleotides. Now he’s moved on to marijuana. Though its sequence is much shorter, roughly 800 million nucleotides, he considers it a far more intriguing plant.
CBD Oil for Anxiety
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