What is CBD?
You only have to walk into your neighborhood pharmacy, health food store or supermarket to see various Cannabidiol (CBD) products smiling happily at you. If you’re a lover of all things cannabis, you might just happily smile back, and with good reason!
A few decades ago, cannabis and its related products were listed as harmful and illegal in the United States and many other countries worldwide. The United States recently made it legal to produce CBD products under the Hemp Farming Act of 2018. Today, CBD is the latest ‘buzz word’ and you can’t seem to escape the plethora of marketing strategies positioning CBD as the latest wonder drug. Manufacturers are putting CBD in almost everything; from skincare products and health tonics to edibles such as brownies and gummies.
To get an appreciation of the current trend, you need to know what CBD is. Discovered in 1940, CBD is a naturally occurring chemical compound found in the Cannabis Sativa plant. The plant has two main species, hemp, and marijuana, which both contain CBD although marijuana contains less. CBD is only one of 113 identified cannabinoids that accounts for approximately 40% of the total plant extract. CBD is not to be confused with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), although they hail from the same source. CBD, unlike THC, is not psychoactive, i.e. it doesn’t cause the ‘high’ associated with THC. CBD imparts a sense of calm and relaxation, which makes it popular in alternative medicine and is the main ingredient in therapeutic oils and potions.
CBD’s popularity is largely owed to a clinical study in 2018 that showed a correlation between CBD and relief in anxiety, pain, and cognitive disorders. This has spurred increased interest in the substance, which is now the focus of further research.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is the most common form of anxiety, which affects numerous people on a day-to-day basis. Anxiety manifests in many other ways such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), agoraphobia, social anxiety, and panic disorder. Anxiety is prevalent on a global scale as nearly 264 million people are living with some form of anxiety, according to a 2017 report released by the World Health Organization (WHO). The good news is, depending on the type of anxiety you’re living with CBD may be able to help alleviate the symptoms of the condition.
Anxiety is characterized as a condition that causes emotional and behavioral disorder typified by excessive worry. Everyone worries at some point and this is perfectly normal. People living with anxiety, however, tend to worry compulsively about major and minor things. They also tend to have difficulty making decisions, facing problems, handling criticism, or managing daily tasks. How do you know you have anxiety apart from being a ‘worry-wort’? Below is a list of some of the symptoms of anxiety, according to the experts at health.com:
This is a tell-tale sign that you may have anxiety and this goes beyond the normal tendency to fuss over things. This is repeated, compulsive worry about every-and-anything.
If you find yourself occasionally staying up at night rehashing your eventful day, this doesn’t count. However, a cycle of lying awake and not being able to fall asleep due to restlessness or worry is a sign you may have anxiety.
Many people suffer from stress that causes muscles to get tense or sore. When you’re stressed, your brain produces cortisol which slows down your circulation and creates tension. If you’re experiencing constant muscle tension and you’re unable to relax even with some form of exercise, you may suffer from anxiety.
Anxiety is an emotional and mental disorder but it can manifest in physical ways, such as with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). If you often experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps, you may be suffering from anxiety of the digestive tract. In such a case, you need to seek medical help for your IBS.
People living with anxiety tend to be fearful for no apparent reason. Their minds tend to create frightful scenarios that haunt them and further compound their anxiety. If you have trouble dealing with intrusive thoughts of fear, you more than likely suffer from this condition.
The scary, debilitating, paralyzing experience of a panic attack is something unmistakable. Once you get one, you never forget it. Having a panic attack doesn’t mean you have anxiety. However, people who suffer from anxiety tend to have panic attacks.
This is a symptom that is hard to diagnose as most people are self-conscious about something. People living with anxiety, however, tend to become self-conscious to the point where it interrupts their lives. They may obsess about their appearance so much that they avoid public places, or spend hours getting dressed.
People living with anxiety tend to experience some form of emotional or physical trauma in their past and may relive the experience at times. If you find yourself constantly having flashbacks of a painful or humiliating experience, you may have anxiety.
Traditional Treatment and the Effects
People undoubtedly have suffered from anxiety since the dawn of time but pharmaceutical medications have only been available for the past several decades. The psychiatric industry produced the drug known as anxiolytics to treat the symptoms, but the side effects of anxiolytics are so unpleasant that they seem to outweigh any benefits gained. People who struggle with this mood disorder often have a difficult time dealing with the mundane things of life, let alone the side effects of prescription drugs. The side effects are many and they include nausea, vomiting, and stomach cramps. As such, many people choose to self-medicate or ignore the symptoms of anxiety all-together.
The holistic health community has long since made a connection between CBD use and improvements in mood and emotional behavior. As such, some healthcare professionals have elected to incorporate CBD in their treatment for anxiety. Numerous people reported experiencing significant relief from their symptoms and many experts believe CBD can positively impact the brain, reduce stress, relieve pain, and help with the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Scientific Evidence Supporting CBD
There is strong scientific evidence that CBD is effective in treating epilepsy, namely the Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS). These two syndromes do not respond to antiseizure medications. CBD not only reduced the number of seizures in patients, in some cases it completely stopped them, which has been a major breakthrough for children suffering from these diseases. The Food and Drug Agency (FDA) approved Epidiolex, which is the first-of-its-kind CBD medicine, a significant nod in the direction of research and breakthroughs in future cannabis-derived medicine.
Some medical practitioners bemoan what they see as the lack of research on CBD. Despite the glut of anecdotal evidence, some are hesitant to make any definitive conclusions on CBD’s efficacy in treating some conditions. They are concerned that there is still a lot that they don’t know about CBD, and as such, they would advise that people err on the side of caution. The US government is also increasing its scrutiny on manufacturers who make broad claims of CBD’s cancer-healing properties, without known scientific evidence.
How CBD Helps with Anxiety
As stated earlier, many people dealing with anxiety have great difficulty tolerating the unpleasant side effects of psychiatric medication. CBD in the form of hemp oil or other cannabis products such as edibles may be a good alternative. CBD tells your brain to relax and helps to calm your body. It reduces anxiety by calming the nervous system so you feel less anxious and more serene. CBD binds to CB1 receptors and causes the brain to produce serotonin, which is a powerful neurotransmitter that positively impacts your mood.
One of the symptoms of anxiety is insomnia and some people suffer from extreme sleep deprivation. CBD is used to treat patients who suffer from insomnia and some studies suggest that CBD helps people to both fall asleep and sleep longer. CBD also helps with depression and stress and can be a viable alternative to traditional treatments of these two conditions as well.
According to the experts at Depression Alliance, CBD oil is effective in treating a wide range of conditions, from multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s to chronic pain and severe mood disorders. It is also touted as being able to reduce blood pressure and serve as an anti-inflammatory agent.
Is CBD Safe?
As stated above, the cannabis plant has both CBD and THC as main properties. However, CBD is non-psychoactive which means it won’t produce the high you get from THC. Nevertheless, there are some people who still react to CBD. These are the folks who, for unknown reasons, react to aspirin or most over-the-counter painkillers. There are also possible side effects of taking CBD, namely nausea, fatigue, and irritability. As with any new supplement, use CBD as directed, and under appropriate supervision.
The WHO reported that there is no evidence of potential for dependence or public health concerns arising from CBD use. This is very encouraging news for the CBD community. However, users should note that CBD can increase the level of the blood thinner Coumadin in the bloodstream, plus CBD is counter-indicated with certain medications the same way grapefruit is. It is therefore advisable to consult with a doctor before taking CBD.
Another safety concern is that some CBD-derived products are sold as supplements, which fall outside the purview of the FDA. This makes it difficult for these products to be regulated for safety and purity. Consumers are currently unable to confirm the amount and/or purity of the CBD listed on product labels. Steps should ideally be taken to research manufacturers and merchants before you purchase these supplements.
What’s the Best Way to Take CBD?
As mentioned before, there is currently a gap in research and a lack of regulation as it relates to CBD. There is no federal body or authority that can state definitively how it should be taken, in what dosage, at what time or regularity, or definitely state what the side effects are. It really boils down to what your goal is and your reason for wanting to use CBD. For some, a topical application of a cream, oil or ointment is preferred over ingestion. Others prefer edibles and so CBD-infused brownies, cookies, gummies, coffee or other foods are their preference. Some still prefer the time-honored method of smoking their cannabis and so they may go for vape pens etc.
If you want fast relief for a couple of hours, a vape pen can give it to you. Just bear in mind that this only works if you need short-term relief. Edibles take a longer time as they go through a digestion process, which produces a slow-release. Tinctures also take a longer time to work as your skin absorbs the CBD at a slower pace. Both edibles and tinctures are long-lasting as they can go up to five or more hours.
People have been using CBD to treat conditions for several decades. It has been used by naturopaths and members of the holistic health community for ages and was recently brought to the fore of mainstream medicine. There is conclusive evidence of CBD’s ability to treat certain diseases and conditions. The recent passing of the Hemp Act in the US has made it possible for state lawmakers to regulate the use of cannabis. People who suffer from anxiety and the effects of pharmaceutical drugs can now legally try CBD and decide if it works for them.
CBD is being touted as a wonder drug or ‘panacea of all ills’, which is a big misconception. While there’s no denying its efficacy at treating some conditions, consumers should be wary of some trending marketing ploys. CBD should not replace a healthy lifestyle, which includes stress management, good nutrition, and regular exercise. Despite legislative support at the federal level, more research and evidence is needed to support the various claims being made about the drug. Additionally, the emerging sector needs regulation to protect the stakeholders involved.
If you would like to try CBD for yourself and benefit from its healing properties, we at Wholesome Monkey would be happy to assist you. We have a wide range of CBD products and we will help you identify the ones that suit your individual needs. Our products are tested and safe. Contact us today by giving us a call or visiting our website and our helpful and professional staff will assist you.